A Record Number of Top US CEOs Are Women: 2.6%
And Then There Were 13
We knew this was coming — now it’s official:
- A record 13 women are CEOs of one of the top 500 US companies, thanks to Ellen Kullman’s taking the top post at DuPont at the start of 2009. But that still leaves the overall share at a meagre 2.6%
- Ten women remained at the helms of their companies throughout the difficult 2008, while Meg Whitman resigned as eBay chief and Paula Reynolds arranged the sale of Safeco to Liberty Mutual Group for $6.2 billion.
- According to a count maintained by USA TODAY, the number of women in charge has varied from seven in 2005 and nine the preceding year before inching higher in recent years. As recently as 1996, only one Fortune 500 company was run by a woman.
- After two strong years — 2003 and 2004 — when those few companies headed by women did far better on average than the other Fortune 500 companies, USA TODAY has seen one comparatively bad year — 2005 — for female-run companies, and parity with male-run counterparts in the following two years.
- In 2008, the average large company run by a woman fared a bit worse than the S&P 500 — which of course did atrociously. On average, companies run by women fell 42.7% compared with the 38.5% drop for the S&P 500.
- But the comparison would look better were the calculations to take into account only the time a company was actually run by a woman, as Sunoco dropped 40% over the full year, but in the time after Lynn Elsenhans replaced a man as CEO (from Aug. 8 on), it was down only 4%.
- The big “winner” among women-run companies was Kraft Foods, down just 18% in 2008 under Irene Rosenfeld. PepsiCo under Indra Nooyi and TJX (which owns the discount retail chains T.J. Max and Marshalls) under Carol Meyrowitzlso both managed to limit losses to just 28%.
- The big loser was Rite Aid, down 89% under Mary Sammons.
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