Women in the Executive Suite

July 4, 1980

Report Outline
Corporate Women: Few among Many
Psychic Barriers to Advancement
Outlook for Managerial Women
Special Focus

Corporate Women: Few among Many

Recent Increase of Women in Management

After more than a decade of affirmative action legislation, pressure from the women's movement and some significant victories in the courts by women alleging job-related sex discrimination, U.S. corporations are opening their managerial ranks to women as never before. The number of women in high-level, high-paying corporate jobs still is quite small and it is likely to be at least several decades before women come anywhere near parity of representation in the executive suite. But, according to a recent report published by The Conference Board, an independent business research organization, “a change process leading in that direction is now clearly under way and it has already had an important effect on at least some very large U.S. corporations.”

Women are such recent entrants in the race up the corporate ladder that up-to-date statistics are difficult to find: the numbers are changing too rapidly. Between 1970 and 1975, The Conference Board reported, the overall representation of women in the corporate sector increased from 31 percent to 32 percent. During that period the number of women managers and administrators in U.S. corporations increased from 13 percent to 17 percent, while the number of women professional and technical workers rose from 13 percent to 15 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 1979 nearly 2.6 million women were employed in managerial and administrative jobs in both private industry and government. Women accounted for nearly a quarter (24.6 percent) of all workers in this occupational group last year, up from 16.6 percent in 1970, 14.4 percent in 1960 and 13.8 percent in 1950. Put another way, 6.4 percent of the 40.4 million women employed in 1979 were managers. Of the 56.5 million men employed last year, 14 percent were managers.

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