The power of women
Women's impact on corporate performance
BY PROFESSOR CRISTIAN DEZSŐ
In the past few decades, women have made great strides in their involvement in economic activity, moving ever closer to what one might call “gender equality.” We have reached a point where women’s college participation and graduation rates exceed those of men, and more and more women are pursuing “traditionally male” college majors, particularly in professional fields such as law and medicine. However, discrepancies persist in the field of business administration, and this state of affairs is mirrored in the workforce: the proportion of women in managerial occupations is only about 35%.
While this represents a significant imbalance, it pales in comparison to what we find at top management levels. In 2006, less than a third of the largest 1,500 US companies had even a single woman on their top management team; overall, women represented less than 9% of top managers. At the CEO level, the difference is even more staggering: only 2.5% of US companies are run by women.
It is beyond question that these large disparities raise issues of fairness and equality. From an economic perspective, an equally important question is whether US companies efficiently identify, develop and promote managerial talent. That is, do companies that are relatively better at identifying and developing female managerial talent have a competitive advantage or is there some “good” reason why companies are not promoting more women to the top?
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