Little Progress for Women Execs in California’s Top Corporations

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When you look at graphics that chart the progress of women corporate executives in California you see a lot of flat lines.

The ninth edition of the University of California, Davis’ “Study of California Women Business Leaders” paints a “disappointing picture” of 2012 that looks familiar. A survey of the 400 largest publicly-held corporations headquartered in the state found not a single company with a gender-balanced board and management team.

About one-third of the companies didn’t have any women on the board of directors or in high management positions. Nearly 45% of boards lack a female presence. If a board does have a woman, she’s probably the only one. Only 21.8% have two or more.

Around 9.9% of combined board seats and high executive positions were held by women in 2012 and 10.5% of 3,189 board directors were women, barely up from 8.8% in 2006.

The report calls that “a modest upward trend.” At that rate of improvement, .2125 percentage points a year, the genders will reach board room parity in the year 2299. 

Only 13 of the 400 CEOs were women, the same number as 2011. Four were new to the list and four old ones were gone. The survey found 47 female chief financial officers, up slightly from 45 the year before.     

Big companies with larger market capitalization had a significantly higher number of women on their boards, and there wasn’t much regional difference. Women made up 9.8% of the boards in the Bay Area and Southern California, where almost all the companies were headquartered.

High-paid women executives fared best in the pharmaceutical, consumer goods and health care industries. The nine industries represented didn’t show as marked a difference for female board members. But women in both jobs had their worst presence in the semiconductor industry.

The lack women in top executive jobs and corporate board rooms is one way of looking at the study’s results. The highest levels of the corporate world in the otherwise very diverse California could also be described as dominated by white males. The report also looked at ethnicity in 85 California corporations from the top 400 that were listed in the 2012 Fortune 1000 list.

Nearly 89% of the 846 board directors were Caucasian, an even higher percentage than male (83.8%). Caucasians dominated both genders. Only 9.5% of female directors were a minority compared to 11.6% for the men.

There are no African-American CEOs.

–Ken Broder       


To Learn More:  

Latest UCD Study of Women Execs in State Notes Some Progress (by Mark Glover, Sacramento Bee)

UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders (pdf)

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