Paths to the Top for Women
Although we are now in the last decade of the twentieth century, there are still only a very small number of women in the upper management levels of American business corporations. In this chapter we will examine, in some detail, the backgrounds and positions of those women and also look at their progress during the 1980s. Our analyses show that fewer than three percent of all high level corporate executives are women. Even when we examined the number of newly appointed managers at the highest levels, we found women to be less than six percent of the total.
Why are the numbers so low? There are a variety of suggested explanations. Perhaps they have chosen not to be business executives either by entering other occupations or by not being willing to make the commitment to the organization that is needed to rise to the top. Perhaps women are just not as well qualified; or perhaps there are even basic gender differences that prevent women from being as effective as men in the role of business executive. Perhaps they are just as capable but they have been discriminated against by the men in their "old boy" networks who have created a "glass ceiling" to keep women out of top management positions. Or perhaps they do want those positions, can handle them very well, and today's business organizations are trying to move women into higher level executive positions, but--this is a long, tedious process and perhaps some of the strategies for accomplishing this goal have been of limited effectiveness.