There is an alarming dearth of women at the top of America’s biggest companies -- even at companies that make things like lipstick and tampons, as the graphic below illustrates:
Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.
Companies often claim they can't find enough women qualified to take on C-suite or director positions. But there are plenty of women filling lower- and middle-management roles. In the U.S., women make up 51.4 percent of management, professional and related occupations, but just 4.8 percent of CEOs, according to Catalyst data.
“We just see that in every industry, that women are tending to cluster more in the lower levels and lower-paid sectors of the industry,” said Heidi Hartmann, the president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
Many makeup purveyors, retailers and other firms that sell a lot of products to women tout their records on gender diversity in their lower ranks:
- At Nordstrom, about 68 percent of executives and senior managers are women.
- At Macy’s, more than 66 percent of management level executives are women.
- At Procter & Gamble, which makes Always and Tampax feminine care products, more than 40 percent of managers are women.
- At Kimberly-Clark, which makes the Kotex feminine care products, about 26 percent of those holding director-level roles globally as of the end of 2013 are women.
Though women tend to have an easier time making it to the top of female-focused industries, according to Hartmann, women still rarely make up majorities of boards or executive suites.
How can this be? For one thing, even at these companies, subconscious prejudices against women as leaders might make it harder for women to get promoted from middle-management roles. Those same biases also mean men tend to have an easier time getting high-level jobs.
And once companies get a few women at the top, they may stop pushing for diversity. One way to fight this tendency could be to require companies to have a certain share of women on their boards, as they do in some European countries, Hartmann said.
“When we do see women in leadership, they do tend to hire and promote other women,” she said.
-- Alexander C. Kaufman contributed reporting.