Skip to main content

Report on Business Women helmed just 5 per cent of top U.S. companies last year

The number of female chief executives at the top 500 U.S. companies hit a high last year of 27 women, according to research that experts said shows a glass ceiling remains firmly in place.

The survey found men at 95 per cent of top CEOs jobs in 2017, despite more women getting higher education and joining the workforce, along with efforts to advance women in business.

The Conference Board, a business research group, used as a stock market index known as Standard & Poor’s 500 to determine the number of women at the helm of large companies.

Story continues below advertisement

The amount of female CEOs increased by one since 2016, marking the highest number since the board began counting 17 years ago.

The figure of 5 per cent for women CEOs remains “ridiculously low”, said Matteo Tonello, managing director of corporate leadership at The Conference Board and a co-author of the report.

“Women do not advance through the ranks, especially at the top,” Tonello told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The number of female CEOs has actually dropped in recent months to 24, said Anna Beninger, senior director of research and corporate engagement partner for Catalyst, which works to promote women in business.

“We are literally moving backwards,” she said.

Barriers range from bias and exclusion in the workplace, to being held to higher standards than men, and overwhelmingly male corporate boards making hiring decisions at the top, she said.

“The deck is very much stacked against women,” Beninger said.

Story continues below advertisement

David Cadden, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy emeritus at Quinnipiac University, dismissed such explanations as women dropping out of the workforce to raise families or men being reluctant to mentor young women.

“I think that good old-fashioned sexism has a much more pertinent role,” he said. “We still have to confront the glass ceiling.”

The findings come amid calls by advocates for quotas in company leadership.

California legislators this week signed a law requiring publicly listed companies with headquarters in the state to have at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter