Friday, November 21, 2008

Not Breakout, but Brutal!

Marie Cocco is syndicated through the Washington Post Writers Group; one of her recent op-ed pieces (online in the Indianapolis Star) summarized her assessment of the 2008 election for women with the following quote:

"It is time to stop kidding ourselves. This wasn't a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one."

In the piece, Cocco argues that 2008 was not a breakout year for women in politics and that neither Hillary Clinton nor Sarah Palin really managed to crack the glass ceiling. She's not impressed with the talk of Hillary Clinton's likely nomination as Secretary of State (women have been there) or the slight gains for women serving in Congress, noting that the number of women holding statewide elective office has actually declined. Cocco quotes Barbara Lee, whose family foundation has done a great deal of research on women in elected office. Lee says that the issue for women continues to be the need to be "likable" in addition to being competent and experienced.

Others who have weighed in on the subject:
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Women Lawyers: Retention and Promotion

The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) and NAWL Foundation recently released their third national survey of that status of women in law firms. The results are not encouraging.

We know the drill - women have been graduating from law schools at the same rate as men for over two decades. Yet we still find:
  • Only 16% of equity partners are women.
  • On average, only 15% of a firm's highest governing committee members are women (and 15% of the national's largest firms have no women on their highest governing committee).
  • Only 6% of firm managing partners are women.
  • From associate to equity partners, male lawyers out-earn female lawyers - at the equity level the difference in average median compensation is almost $90,000.
And, as is almost always the case, the numbers are bleaker for women of color. While 11% of firm associates are women of color:
  • only 3% of non-equity partners are women of color
  • only 1.4% of equity partners are women of color
And note: while men of color make up only 8% of firm associates, they are 6% of the non-equity partners and 4% of equity partners. Even though there are more women of color at the associate level, men of color outpace the women into firm leadership positions.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Election 2008

The dust is starting to settle from the 2008 election, although there are a few races still in question. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has compiled the good news and the bad news for women's participation in elected office; their findings include the following.
  • A record number of women will serve in the U.S. Senate - 17 total (out of 100), up one from the previous election (OK, this will definitely put us over the top).
  • The U.S. House of Representatives will also include a record number of women: 74, up from 71 prior to the election. (Note that there is one race - the 15th District in Ohio - that is still outstanding.)
  • That's 91 women total - or 17% of the 535 seats total. The Inter-Parliamentary Union did their most recent ranking just prior to our elections, and the U.S. was 71st among 188 countries for the percentage of seats held by women (in this case, the "lower house" - our House of Representatives).

The number of women serving in state legislatures will also increase in 2009 to 24.9% of the total.
  • New Hampshire achieved a first - the majority of seats in their Senate will be held by women (13 of 24 total).
  • The South Carolina Senate earned the distinction as the only state legislative body with no women serving.

It was Democratic women, however, who put these numbers over the top. In both state senate and state houses (or assemblies) races, Democratic women gained seats while Republican women lost representation.
  • The number of Democratic women serving in state legislatures increased from 1200 to 1261
  • The number of Republican women serving in state legislatures decreased from 535 to 509. (If you're doing the math - the number of women identified as "non-partisan" increased by 1, as "progressive" increased by 1 and as independent lost 2).
The Institute has done an initial assessment of the outcome of the recent election on the number of women serving at that state and national level for Ohio. Visit our wiki for the most recent information:
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PricewaterhouseCoopers' Gender Gap Study

The professional services firms have often led the way in analyzing the reasons why women leave before advancing into senior leadership ranks, in part because they understand the investment they make in training an associate in their methodology and the amount of revenue that walks out the door when they leave. They have also shared their findings as part of their efforts to communicate their commitment to advancing women leaders. The most recent effort comes from PricewaterhouseCoopers and is a film entitled Closing the Gender Gap: Challenges, Opportunities and the Future. It's based on interviews with 100 women and men around the world - from all arenas, and it makes some of the following points regarding what it will take and why it is important to close the gap between women and men.
  • competing effectively for talented people will continue to be a critical factor for success, and striving for gender equity will help countries and regions increase their economic vitality
  • companies need to plug the leaking pipeline by addressing a triple threat: women need to see opportunities outside of their traditional roles, men need to be less exclusive and society's gender expectations need to change.
  • mentoring is imperative, and paths for career re-entry are essential
  • companies must strive for a critical mass at the top (which some peg at 30%) - those that do will see significant, long-term, financial impact
  • men have to be engaged in the process and need to understand the ways in which they will benefit from closing the gender gap
The film will be shown at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos. The 25-minute film can be viewed online at:
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Women in Leadership in California; Global Gender Gap Report

Here are a couple of recent research reports worth noting.

U.C. Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders (2008)

The U.C. Graduate School of Management has just released their fourth census of women directors and executive officers in California. Their results include the following:
  • half of California's 400 largest public companies have no women in top executive offices,
  • almost half do not have a woman on the board of directors, and
  • nearly a third do not have a woman in either a top executive post or on the governing board.
Wondering how we fare in Ohio? I've not looked at statewide figures (our goal is produce our first statewide census of women leaders in Ohio in business and government this academic year), but central Ohio figures have always lagged behind the national averages. The public companies not included in the Fortune 1000 in particular often lack diversity in their executive suites and on their boards. And to date, only one Fortune 1000 company in Ohio has had a female CEO, when Kerrii Anderson served as the CEO at Wendy's.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2008

The World Economic Forum has also recently released their 2008 update on the status of women and girls around the world. Out of the 130 countries ranked, the U.S. came in 27th, behind Sri Lanka, Cuba and South Africa (Norway, Finland and Sweden lead the list) among others.
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