Monday, September 15, 2008

Are Americans Really Sexist? 100 Most Powerful Women in the World

There is an awful lot of talk about sexism and gender bias in the current political campaign. Whether you are a fan of Senator Hillary Clinton, or Governor Sarah Palin you have to admit that both have put topics like glass ceilings, workplace politics, family, worklife balance and gender bias back in the headlines.

As a country we have yet to deal with a lot of the gender bias that exists in today's workplace. A couple of the issues to be addressed include less than equal pay for equal work or qualified women being overlooked in favor of less qualified men.

However, to be fair, those who would decry America for gender bias should take another look at the 2008 list of the world's 100 most powerful women. Quick math shows 55% of the women are from the United States.

Despite the picture the Forbes List of 100 most powerful women shows, there are still major gender bias issues on the table since only 3% of America's biggest companies have female chief executives.

It made me wonder what percentage on such a list would we be happy with? Is the main concern the types of roles women hold? For example, not counting Queens, there are 8 women who hold the highest political office in their countries representing less than 5% of countries worldwide.

Here is first 25 women in the list: (See the complete list here)

1 Angela Merkel Chancellor Germany
2 Sheila C. Bair Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. U.S.
3 Indra K. Nooyi Chairman, chief executive, PepsiCo U.S.
4 Angela Braly Chief executive, president, WellPoint U.S.

5 Cynthia Carroll Chief executive, Anglo American U.K.
6 Irene B. Rosenfeld Chairman, chief executive, Kraft Foods U.S.
7 Condoleezza Rice Secretary of state U.S.

8 Ho Ching Chief executive, Temasek Holdings Singapore
9 Anne Lauvergeon Chief executive, Areva France
10 Anne Mulcahy Chairman, chief executive, Xerox Corp. U.S.
11 Gail Kelly Chief executive and managing director, Westpac Bank Australia
12 Patricia A. Woertz Chairman, chief executive, president, Archer Daniels Midland U.S.
13 Cristina Fernandez President Argentina
14 Christine Lagarde Minister of economy, finance and employment France
15 Safra A. Catz President and chief financial officer, Oracle U.S.
16 Carol B. Tome Executive vice president and chief financial officer, Home Depot U.S.
17 Yulia Tymoshenko Prime minister Ukraine
18 Mary Sammons Chairman, chief executive, president, Rite Aid U.S.
19 Andrea Jung Chairman, chief executive, Avon U.S.

20 Marjorie Scardino Chief executive, Pearson PLC U.K.
21 Sonia Gandhi President, Indian National Congress Party India
22 Risa Lavizzo-Mourey Chief Executive and President, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation U.S.
23 Sri Mulyani Indrawati Coordinating minister for economic affairs and finance minister Indonesia
24 Dr. Julie Gerberding Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention U.S.
25 Michelle Bachelet President Chile


James said...

Regarding: "there are still major gender bias issues on the table since only 3% of America's biggest companies have female chief executives".

A percentage alone does not mean there is gender bias. There was only one african american in the men's 2008 swimming competition at the Olympics (that I remember), and there are more african americans then whites in some other American sports. And neither of these are necessarily due to racial bias I would argue.

Just my opinion. I think determining gender bias based on this statistical measure is really not a good idea. A better measure would be measuring a ratio that compares the available talent pool to draw from, education of those in the talent pool, demonstrated experience, etc... Based on viable candidates for senior positions, then determine if there is bias, something along those lines.

Marcia said...


Your points are excellent and well taken.

One other component I would consider when identifying the "available pool" would be one's "desire".

Sometimes I wonder if the debate is to increase the number of women in C-Level roles or to increase women's desire for C-Level roles.