Even though women constitute 40% of all executives and administrative
posts (up from 24% in 1976), they are still restricted mostly to the middle and
lower positions, and the senior levels of management are almost entirely male
domains. A 1990 study of the top Fortune 500 companies by Mary Ann Von
Glinow of the University of Southern California, showed that "women were only
2.6% of corporate officers (the vice presidential level up)." Of the Fortune Service
500, only 4.3% of the corporate officers were women - even though women are
6l% of all service workers.
Even more disturbing is that these numbers have "shown little
improvement in the 25 years that these statistics have been tracked". (University
of Michigan, Korn/Ferry International). What this means is that at the present rate
of increase, it will be 475 years - or not until 2466 before women reach equality
with men in the executive suite.
This scenario is not any better on corporate boards. Only 4.5% of the
Fortune 500 industrial directorships are held by women. On Fortune Service 500
companies, 5.6% of corporate directors are women. The rate of increase is so
slow that parity with men on corporate boards will not be achieved until the year
2116 - or for 125 years. (The Feminist Majority Foundation News Media
Publishing Inc., 1995)
In 1980, only one woman held the rank of CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
This woman came into the top management by inheriting the company from her
father and husband. In 1985, this executive was joined by a second woman who


reached the top - by founding the company she headed.
Even though the newspapers are reporting that women have come a long
way and are successful in the corporate world, women are banging into a "glass
ceiling" that is "so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents
women from moving up the corporate hierarchy". (Ann Morrison, The Feminist
Majority Foundation and News Media, Inc, 1955) Women can see the high-level
corporate positions but are kept from reaching the top. According to Morrison
(http//www.feminist.org/research/ewb glass.ntml.) and her colleagues, the glass
ceiling is not simply a barrier for an individual, based on the person/s inability to
handle a higher-level job. Rather, the glass ceiling applies to women as a group
who are kept from advancing higher because they are women.
Just as the overall labour market remains sharply segregated by sex,
women executives are concentrated into certain types of jobs - mostly staff and
support jobs - and these offer little opportunity for getting to the top. The highest
ranking women in most industries are in non-operating areas such as personnel,
public relations. or, sometimes finance specialties that rarely lead to the most
powerful top-management positions. It seems that women are shut out of jobs in
the route that is taken by CEOs and presidents and even when they do get a line
job it will more than likely not be in the significant part of the business or the type
of job that can stamp them as leaders.
It seems to be that the biggest barrier to women in top management levels
is the bunch of boys sitting around a table making all the decisions. In


other words when a decision has to be made concerning who should be
promoted to management, male corporate leaders are inclined to select people
as much like themselves as possible - so there is no astonishment that women
are often not even considered at promotion time. The guys at the top look at
their former colleagues and old school ties. Women executives are often left out
of social activities because they do not fit into the "boys club". Even on a more
traditional level, women report there are "certain kinds of meetings" they do not
get invited to because they are not seen as policy makers.
In a Wall Street Journal//Gallup study 80% of the executive women stated
they believe there were disadvantages to being a woman in the business world.
They stated that men did not take them seriously, they have been mistaken for a
secretary at business meetings, they have been prevented from moving up the
ladder because of male attitudes towards women and they believed they are paid
less than men of equal ability. Many corporate environments tolerate sexual
harassment which intimidates and demoralizes women executives. However,
many women hesitate to speak out, fearing it will jeopardize their careers.
In conclusion, many women have been discouraged from going to the top
by a set of