When I was in my twenties starting out in business, I asked the septuagenarian man sitting next to me at a meeting held at his private club whether it accepted women as members. Without missing a beat, he said, "Of course we do. We have many widows here." I thought that if he could not distinguish between women able to join a club on their own and those who gained membership as adjuncts to their husbands, he probably would have difficulty promoting or working for a woman in the business realm.
While finding women in executive positions is hardly novel today, finding them in the boardroom is much more unusual. This fact not only verifies a persistent hesitancy among established males to open doors to women, but it also may be a cause for concern over the strength of U.S. business.
I wrote an article about this in Business week. See this link: http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/oct2009/ca20091016_661618.htm