Report: Women hold only 14.3 percent of executive positions at major companies

map of women board members and executive officers

Today, Catalyst released their 2012 report detailing the gender gap in the leadership of the Fortune 500 companies. Here are some facts:

  • Women held 14.3 percent of executive officer positions.
  • Women held 8.1 percent of top earner positions.
  • Women held 16.6 percent of board seats.
  • Women of color held just 3.3 percent of board seats.
  • One-quarter of the companies had no women in executive officer positions.
  • One-tenth of the companies had no women on their boards.
  • Two-thirds of companies had no women of color on their boards.

And, as Bryce Covert notes, things have barely gotten any better in recent years: “2012 was the seventh consecutive year in which we haven’t seen any growth in board seats and the third year of stagnation in the C-suite.” At a certain point, “progress” is so slow that it’s more appropriately spelled p-l-a-t-e-a-u.

Check out the report here and here, as well as Catalyst’s new Corporate Board Resource, a real “binder full of women.


Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Sepp

    That is indeed baffling.

    Despite all the women’s networking, women’s mentoring, legislation providing better conditions for women in business, and more women than men in Universities…why are women still not making it to the top in greater numbers?

  • Stella

    Its not baffling to me at all – as someone who had a working mom in the 80s and is now a working mom, it makes perfect sense. To get ahead in the professions or big business nowadays, you increasingly have to work very long hours and be connected 24/7. Yes, people had to work long hours back in the day, but its far worse now.

    The more hours you have to work to compete, the harder it is to succeed without a full-time support person (i.e. “wife”). Men are far more likely to have someone filling that role for them than women are. So if we want to have a professional culture where you are expected to work all the time, women are not going to get ahead in equal numbers to men unless gender roles on the homefront change a whole lot.

    • Sepp

      Thanks for pointing that out. It is true that the competition has stiffened and that people have to work longer hours at the office and at home (through online connectedness) in order to get ahead.

      If we consider that it is hard for single moms to succeed in this game because they have to invest time in their children then we should apply the same thinking to the numbers presented above.

      So given that child care is (still) unevenly distributed between men and women, what do the numbers look like if you compare men without children with women without children?

      In my view having children is a choice that people should make consciously. It DOES have an impact on your career. Having it all is impossible – You can have some of everything though. You can work full time and have kids, but you won’t see them much. Or, you stay with your kids and won’t have much of a career. Not, that I like this much.

      I’d be curious to see what a statistics on time spent with offspring for fathers and mothers would look like. Would we find that only 20% of the total child-parent contact time goes to men?