In the corporate world, it looks like women are making significant strides. This year's Fortune 500 list boasted 18 female CEOs, more women to make the list than ever before.
But despite those gains, black women aren't faring quite as well, facing harsher penalties than other leaders when organizations fail.
It's a reality that professors Ashleigh Shelby Rosette of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Robert W. Livingston of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management say exists whether an organization is performing negatively or not.
In a study conducted by Rosette and Livingston, 228 participants read fictitious news articles about a company’s performance, including permutations in which the leader was black or white, male or female and successful or unsuccessful. What they found was that black women who failed were viewed more critically than their underperforming white or male counterparts -- even those of the same race.
The findings, which were published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology this month represent a case of "double jeopardy," the study authors say, or the product of being neither white nor male.
According to a report called "Risk and Reward" released by the League of Black Women Global Research Institute last year, professional black women made up only one percent of U.S. corporate officers, despite the fact that 75 percent of corporate executives believed that having minorities in senior level positions enables innovation and better serves a diverse customer base.
Similarly, black women held just 1.9 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500 compared to 12.7 percent for white women, numbers that The Huffington Post said compounds overall dissatisfaction among black women in corporate jobs.
The disparity, along with limited opportunity for upward mobility might also explain the shift black women have been making from corporate America to entrepreneurship, with black women starting their own businesses at three-to-five times the rate of all businesses.
In July, the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), an independent, non-profit organization designed to aid in the advancement of African-American corporate leaders at Fortune 500 companies, hosted more than two-hundred black female executives at the annual Women’s Leadership Forum in Minneapolis.
On the agenda: The ELC's plan to work with companies to promote and hire at least one African-American woman to a CEO or senior level executive position at every fortune 500 company for the next five years.
Related on HuffPost:
Sign: Boys Are Falling Behind in School
"Whatever its origins, the problem of young men falling behind is becoming entrenched ... Now, in families where the fathers have a high school education or less, girls are much more likely than boys to finish college. If the boys do go, they are more likely to drop out. The difference is especially pronounced in families where there is not father."
Sign: Women Are Earning More Degrees Than Men
"Women now earn 6-0 percent of master's degrees, about half of all the law and medical degrees, and about 44 percent of all business degrees. In 2009, for the first time women earned more PhDs than men, and the rate was starting to accelerate even in male-dominated fields such as math and computer science."
Sign: Hooking Up Isn't Hearbreaking For Women
In contrast to all that's been written about the one-night stands with acquaintances common on college campuses being disadvantageous to women, Rosin found that "for most women the hook-up culture is like an island they visit mostly during their college years, and even then only when they are bored or experimenting or don't know any better. But it is not a place where they drown. The sexual culture may be more coarse these days, but young women are more than adequately equipped to handle it, because unlike in earlier ages they have more important things going on, such as good grades and internships and job interviews and a financial future of their own to worry about. The most patient and thorough research about the hook-up culture shows that over the long run, women benefit greatly from living in a world where they can have sexual adventure without commitment or all that much shame, and where they can enter into temporary relationships that don't derail their careers."
Sign: Women Are Moving Into Formerly Male-Dominated Professions, But Men Aren't Doing The Reverse
"Over the course of the past century," Rosin writes, "feminism has pushed women to do things once considered against their nature -- first enter the workforce as singles, then continue to work while married, then work even with small children at home. Many professions have gone the way of the pharmacist, starting out as the province of men and now filled mostly with women. Yet I'm not aware of any that have gone the opposite way. Nursing schools have tried hard to recruit men in the past few years, with minimal success. Teaching schools, eager to recruit male role models, are having a similarly hard time. The range of acceptable masculine roles has changed comparatively little, and has perhaps even narrowed as men, operating under the outdated <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w8985" target="_hplink">pollution rules</a>, still shy away from some careers as women begin to dominate them."
Sign: Jobs At Which Women Excel Are The Jobs With Staying Power
"Sure bets for the future are still jobs that cannot be done by a computer or someone overseas," Rosin writes. "They are the jobs that require human contact, interpersonal skills, and creativity" -- jobs in fields like home health, child care, teaching, veterinary medicine -- "and these are all areas where women excel."
Consequence: Families Are Investing More In Their Daughters Than Their Sons
"Reversing centuries of tradition, families are investing in their daughters. The son preference that prevailed for so much of history was not based only on sentimental attachment or habit. Families poured their resources into sons because sons were the most likely to succeed, and perhaps to help support their parents in old age. With women dominating American colleges, the still-striving middle class is putting its best bet on its daughters."
Consequence: A Dating Market Bad For Women
"These days the problem in the dating market is caused not by women's eternal frailty but by their new dominance. In a world where women are better educated than men and out-earning them in their twenties, dating becomes complicated. Men are divided into what the college girls call the players (a smaller group) and the losers (a much larger group), and the women are left fighting for small spoils. The players are in high demand and hard to pin down. The losers are not all that enticing. Neither is in any hurry to settle down."
Consequence: Marriage Is Less Appealing Than Ever To American Women
We know women are marrying less and later than ever, but experts disagree about why. Rosin argues, "the most compelling theory is that marriage has disappeared because women are now more economically independent and thus able to set the terms for marriage -- and usually they set them too high for the men around them to reach... The whole country's future could look much as the present does for many lower-class African-Americans: The mothers pull themselves up, but the men don't follow. First-generation college-educated white women may join their black counterparts in a new kind of middle class, where marriage is increasingly rare.
Consequence: In Asia, Women AND Men Are Avoiding Marriage
In a chapter that focuses mainly on the rise of women in Korea, Rosin notes that Asian women dominate in the classroom and have grown up unwilling to take on the traditional female role of the subservient homemaker, even as men continue to want wives who fit that mold. "Asia's looming problem right now is not the dangers of seduction but threat of industrial-scale sexual indifference. In a host of Asian countries, including Korea, the new woman and the same old man have looked each other over and each has deemed the other a wholly unsuitable life partner, creating a region of 'lonely hearts,' as <em>The Economist</em> recently called them."
Consequence: The Rise Of The "Seesaw Marriage"
The one socioeconomic bracket in which the divorce rate is down is among the affluent. This, Rosin writes, in tandem with women's increases in education, opportunity and earnings, has made possible a new mode of time sharing in upper-class marriages: "Couples are not just chasing justice and fairness as measured by some external yardstick of gender equality. What they are after is individual self-fulfillment, and each partner can have a shot at achieving it at different points in the marriage."
Sign/Consequence: Even When Women Work Full-Time, They Do More At Home -- And They're Exhausted
Over the course of her research, Rosin writes, she didn't encounter any woman who worked full-time and had relinquished control of the domestic space to her husband. "This is true even if the woman is working two jobs. It's true even if the woman makes considerably more money than the man." As Rosin told Lisa Belkin, "Women demanded choice, and now there is an excess of choice. But they are not overwhelmingly happier. Partly that's because even women who make significantly more money than the men they are with never ceded the domestic space. And that can be exhausting. Women don't give up things. They don't give up responsibilities. They add new things. They exhaust themselves and still don't give anything up."
Consequence: Employers Will Offer More Flexible Work Schedules -- For Men And Women -- To Attract Top Talent
"What were once considered exclusively women's concerns are now becoming the baits of the rising workforce. Surveys of Generation Y reveal them to have almost exactly the same workplace expectations and desires as a forty-year-old working mother: They want flexibility, the option to work remotely, to dip in and out of full time and to find their work meaningful ... Women have written the blueprint for the workplace of the future. The only question left is, will the men really adapt?"
Consequence: Leaders With "Feminine" Qualities Are More Valuable
"The aim is to behave like a good coach, and channel your charisma to motivate others to be hardworking and creative. The model is not explicitly defined as feminine, but it echoes literature about male-female differences. A program at Columbia Business School, for example, teaches sensitive leadership and social intelligence, including better reading of facial expressions and body language. 'We never explicitly say, "Develop your feminine side," but it's clear that's what we're advocating,' says Jamie Ladge, a business professor at Northeastern University."
Consequence: Women Are Exhibiting More Violent Behavior
Discussing recent cases of female chemists poisoning their husbands, Rosin reflects, "Singular and exotic though these cases may be, they raise the broader unsettling possibility that, with the turnover in modern gender roles, the escalation from competitiveness to aggression to violence that we are used to in men has started showing up in women as well ... For some people the rise in female violence must come as a great disappointment. Many of us hold out the hope that there is a utopia in our future run by women, that power does not in fact corrupt equally. But that vision ... has always had an air of condescension behind it. The most distinctive trait of women is not necessarily that they are kinder or gentler or will do anything to protect their young ... it's that they ... bend their personalities to fit in what the the times allow."
WATCH: Hanna Rosin On 'Today'