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Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in Leadership Positions Artemus Ward Dept. of Political Science Northern Illinois University

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Presentation on theme: "Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in Leadership Positions Artemus Ward Dept. of Political Science Northern Illinois University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in Leadership Positions Artemus Ward Dept. of Political Science Northern Illinois University

2 Introduction While there have been some women in positions of leadership throughout American history, it was the womens rights movement of the early 20 th century that began to make inroads. But significant gains were not achieved until the womens rights movement of the 1970s. Still, women have not been able to achieve parity with men when it comes to the highest levels of leadership in government, business, and academia. Many suggest it is a lack of leadership training and experience and that women need to get into a leadership pipeline at lower levels in order to make inroads at the highest levels. Others suggest that the problem is biaseither overt or hiddenon the part of both men and women.

3 In 2011, women held 90 (17%) of the 535 seats in Congress: 73 (17%) of 435 in the House and 17 (17%) of 100 in the Senate.

4 Women in the Federal Bureaucracy In 1990 only 11% of senior managers in the federal government were women; now women make up nearly a third. Women now hold 44% of professional and administrative jobs, up from 20% in Still, there was little change in these numbers in the last ten years.

5 Includes such statewide offices as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Treasurer among other positions.


7 Judges: One Third There have been four women justices of the U.S. Supreme Court (three currently sitting). 31% (51 of 165) of U.S. Courts of Appeals judges are women. 30% of U.S. District Court judges are women. 33% (111 of 341) of state supreme court judges are women. Of the 53 chief judges of state supreme courts, 19, or 36% are women. Women comprise a majority of judges on state supreme courts in California, Michigan, Tennessee, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. Women constitute at least 40% of the judges on an additional 17 state supreme courts.

8 The Legal Profession At the 200 largest law firms in America: Women make up barely 15% of equity partners, and just 26% of nonequity partners. Women hold only 20% of the positions on a firm's highest governance committee, and only 4% of firms have a firmwide female managing partner.

9 Women in Business 14.7% of all corporate board seats in the Fortune 500 list are occupied by women. While the number of women on Fortune 500 corporate boards continues to rise, the average rate of increase is only one-half of one percent per year. Currently around 30% of US firms are majority- owned by women. Women represent only 36% of enrollments in M.B.A. programsa figure unchanged in the last ten years.

10 Women in Academia In 2010, women earned 80% of the undergraduate degrees, 77% of the master's and 67% of the doctoral degrees in education. In Engineering, by contrast, women earned just 18% of undergraduate degrees, 22% of masters and 23% of doctoral degrees. Women comprise only 18% of computer science majors, 37% of philosophy and religious studies majors and 43% of math majors.

11 Women in Voluntary Organizations 30% of women in America volunteer. And while women make up roughly half of the membership in voluntary organizations, they hold only 1/4 to 1/3 of the leadership positions.

12 Hope for the Future? Studies routinely show that girls outperform boys in school. They are more resilient, better at reading, have better verbal skills, are better at math, have greater social intelligence… 50% of medical and law students are women. 57% of all undergraduates are women. 60% of all Masters degrees are earned by women. 52% of Doctoral degrees are earned by women.

13 What Can Women Do? Begin by taking on leadership positions on campus. Some positions are appointed, others are elected. Start in class with group assignments, then campus organizations (groups, clubs), and finally move to campus-wide offices (student government). Once you leave school, take the same approach to getting involved in your community. Join voluntary organizations and inquire about local government involvement. There are many local government positions (such as sitting on boards) that are appointed and relatively easy to join. Just go to your local government offices and start asking around. If you have an interest in politics, volunteer for political campaigns. Again, start local and move up the ladder. Smaller, local races will allow you to take on more leadership right away than say a national presidential campaign. Once you gain experience in leadership roles for voluntary organizations and government positions, you may be recruited by political party leaders to run for office.

14 What Can Men Do? Men need to be conscious that gender disparities exist in positions of leadership. Men should consider careers in fields that have traditionally been dominated by women such as health care and education. Men need to begin bearing an equal share of, if not primary responsibility for, housework and the care of children and elderly parentsareas that men have traditionally relied on women to take care of.

15 Sources Carmon, Irin, Better Numbers for Women in Federal Government, But Room to Grow,, May 26, Chen, Vivia, Women are Now 70 Percent of Staff Lawyers, But Stuck 15 Percent of Equity Partners, The Carreerist, October 22, Mangan, Katherine, Despite Efforts to Close Gender Gaps, Some Disciplines Remain Lopsided, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 29, Wall, Audrey, Women in State Government, Knowledge Center – The Council on State Governments, July 1, 2011.

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