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Survey Finds Women Holding More 'Corporate Clout' Titles

November 19, 2002|Rebecca Gomez | Associated Press

NEW YORK — Despite all the recent shocks to corporate America and the faltering economy, women continued to make inroads into the upper ranks at Fortune 500 companies, a survey being released today said.

The number of female corporate officers at Fortune 500 companies increased 3.2 percentage points over the last two years, according to the biannual survey by Catalyst, a New York-based women's advocacy group.

"Historically, in down economies, women tend to be hit very hard. We have data showing that this has not happened, which is a surprise for many," Catalyst President Sheila Wellington said. "When times are bad, to maintain a competitive position, you've got to keep top talent, and there's a recognition that women are in that top talent pool."

Women make up 15.7% of the top-ranking executives at America's largest companies -- or 2,140 of the 13,673 total -- compared with 12.5% in 2000 and 8.7% in 1995 when the group began keeping track.

Women held 7.9%, or 191, of the 2,412 "corporate clout titles," which Catalyst defined as chief executive, chairman, vice chairman, president, chief operating officer, senior executive vice president and executive vice president. That's an increase from the 6.2% in 1997.

The number of female chief executives increased to six, comprising 1.2% of the Fortune 500 CEO population. Two years ago, there were just two female CEOs.

Catalyst used company-provided data and regulatory filings for its study.

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