Although women are already making up a huge proportion of the working population, the actual gender makeup of leadership remains substantially unchanged. According to Forbes, although there is an increase in the number of women leaders, their overall number in the entire work population is still very low. Based on 2009 figures, women were at 49% of jobs in the US and 50% of these were holding leadership functions. A report by the Department of Labour in 2006 also indicates that there are more women than men in mid-level work as financial managers, human resources managers, medical and health managers, accountants and auditors as well as social community service managers.
However, on top management level positions, the numbers are not very promising for women. Based on 2010 statistics released on the US Fortune 500 leaders, only 2.4% were women. Based on the FTSE 500 figures, only 1.8% of their companies are women-led. Boardroom access for women is very troubling, especially for the US and UK. In other parts of the world, there are some better numbers for women. In Norway for instance, about 44.2% of their board members are women, especially as the country passed legislation calling for publicly listed companies to include boards at least 40% being women.
For the rest of the world, however, the numbers for women leaders are very much dismal. On the one hand, women are still being discriminated against in relation to top leadership roles in companies. While the commitment of companies in increasing the number of women occupying leadership roles has increased in the past few decades, such commitment has not translated to substantial numbers.
Women are still being passed on for promotion or placement in top leadership posts. There are different theories and explanations which would help understand the phenomenon. Some of these theories relate to biology, gender roles, causal factors, as well as attitudinal drivers.
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