Even though a paltry 35 of the Fortune 1000 companies' CEOs are women, some In The Know types think the days of that embarrassing statistic are coming to an end. Companies with dress codes and webinars and teambuilding exercises and the word "corp" in their names, under social and political pressure from their boards of directors, are increasingly hiring more women in leadership track roles, which means that while executive suites are still a dudeapalooza, women are poised to take over, kind of. At this rate, by the middle of the century, women could even be 10% of the 1%. Equality!
The Wall Street Journal notes that executive search firms have reported increased interest from companies looking for well-qualified women to kick ass and take names and make the picture inside of the company's annual report look less like it was taken in 1965. A McKinsey & Co study found that a full 24% of Senior Vice Presidents at 58 large companies are now women, which means they're 24% in the running when the dude in charge retires. And a recent Fins Finance article even profiles some of these CEO's-in-waiting, women who are poised to lead companies like GE, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, General Mills, and The Walt Disney Company.
The Journal doesn't delve too deeply into why companies are more interested in women than ever (the board.... wants it?) but it seems that none of this could have been made possible without some shifting of gender expectations within families, because the gauntlet anyone has to run through in order to advance to the top of a Fortune 1000 company is so demanding that it would be nearly impossible for someone to take care of children without help from a spouse. Case in point: nine of the Journal's picks for potential future CEO's have children, but many of those women have husbands who were willing to abandon their careers in order to support their wives' ambitions — basically, someone has to stay home or work a totally nontraditional schedule in order for this to work. This makes perfect, depressing sense in light of the fact that the US is still one of the only industrialized nations in the world that doesn't guarantee paid maternity leave, and companies that require rigid adherence to a schedule and don't allow telecommuting make it hard on mothers who are trying to balance family and career.
So hooray for ladies and girl power and if you wanna be my lovah you gotta get with my friends and all that, but if women are ever to occupy a number of CEO positions proportional to their numbers in the workforce, something has to give — either work needs to become less demanding (which is a nonsensical expectation), motherhood needs to be more supported by the government and/or employers, or dads need to make like Mrs. Cleaver and stay home with the kids.