Yea, We’re Almost 4%

By Sheree Winslow

The elevator to the executive suite had been designed to only move one person at a time.  Located toward the back of the lobby, you might walk right by it if you didn’t know where you wanted to go.  Kimberly, however, knew where she wanted to be so she passed the banks that took people to other floors and pushed the “up” button.

A few seconds later the sound of the elevator signaled that it had reached the bottom floor and was ready for its next passenger.  Before Kimberly could take a step forward, a man named Rex rushed by her and stepped into the car.  “Sorry but I need to head up there first,” he said.

After Rex had left, Kimberly pushed the button again and while she waited, a familiar face approached.  Michael said, “hello,” and the two engaged in chit chat until the familiar “ding” sounded again.  Michael didn’t even say “excuse me” as he walked past Kimberly and onto the elevator.  He turned and just before the doors closed, he said, “I didn’t realize you were waiting.”

Kimberly was frustrated.  Both men had clearly seen her but they didn’t seem to realize it was her turn.  Again, she pushed the button.  But when the car returned to the lobby level, Kimberly experienced the same thing all over again.  This time John got into the elevator.

Then it was Ryan.  Kimberly waited and tried again.

Then Daniel.  More waiting and trying.

Jeffey.  Waiting, trying.



















And after 24 men had pushed by her to take their rides to the c-suite, it was finally Kimberly’s turn.

Repetitive?  Frustrating to read?  I hope so because I want to give you a glimpse into the composition of our Fortune 500.  For every 24 men that get the top spots at their companies, there is one woman.  In 2012 there was “big” progress because of the 500 CEOs listed, 18 were women.  And the reason this is called progress is because in 2011, the number of women in top spots had dropped from 15 to 12.  I recently read an article celebrating the fact that we have so many women CEO’s this year and it struck a nerve with me.  Yea, we’re almost 4 percent?!

I don’t want to scoff at positive change because at a minimum, a negative trend was reversed.  Instead of declining further, the number of women CEO’s did increase.  But when reviewed in context of the below, it just doesn’t seem like reason for celebration quite yet.

I have been working to better understand the root causes of this inequality in order to work toward solutions and I would love to hear back from you.  Why do you think the numbers of women in top jobs is so ridiculously low?  And what do you think we need to do to change this? 



3 thoughts on “Yea, We’re Almost 4%

  1. Sheree,
    What an excellent conversation starter! Love, love, love the concept of your website. As I progressed in my career, changed careers when my child was a toddler, and now back on the first career track, my desire to be “the boss” is much lower than before. Not because I think I have at least as much experience or leadership ability as the bosses, but because selling ideas as a women takes more effort and I am tired. Despite being the bread winner in the house, I also have primary responsibility for child rearing and homemaking. I love all three roles – maybe not the homemaking part as much as the others – a housekeeper would be amazing! But I have allowed career advancement to take a backseat to put that allotment of energy to child rearing. As an older mother – mid-40s with an 8-yr-old – I feel the pressure to get back on the career advancement track before age is a hinderance competing with the needs of my child. Education for smart kids in this country is discouraging, so it takes a lot of effort to keep pushing for and/or providing educational opportunities. Where do I use my energies? Or is there an energy bank that I can get a bigger allotment? I would love to hear about how women leaders employ energy smartly. Thanks again for the conversation on this important topic.

    • Misty,
      Thank you for joining the conversation! As I find resources and materials that will help you, I will post them. There simply isn’t enough information on how women can better “on-ramp” after they take time to focus on family and I hope to find resources that help with this. If I find the energy bank (smile), I will let you know!

  2. What a great post Sheree. One of the things I believe needs to happen is a drastic change of patriarchal work culture. I started because I wanted to channel women’s spending power towards women-led companies. I was shocked when I learned that the store Anthropologie doesn’t have even one woman on its board of directors. That got me thinking about using the over 80% purchasing power women do have to promote more women leaders in business by rewarding companies that do advance women. (a great organization called rates large companies in their W directory).

    My thinking has evolved and so has the business model, to one where we are promoting small to medium sized women-led growth companies. Why? These companies are necessarily changing the culture of the workplace. They are breaking the mold. Many women entrepreneurs started their companies to create a work/life culture that satisfied their needs. They are also important economic drivers. When we grow great women-led businesses, we are growing more women business leaders, a stronger economy and changing workplace cultures.

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