Women in the Business World

According to recent US Census data, women now comprise 50.8% of the population, yet they have traditionally been left out of the most senior roles in society. Given current trends in education, politics, and business, women seem poised to become better represented at all levels of society. Indeed, there are now more women than men enrolled in higher education and the 113th Congress features 20 female Senators and 78 Congresswomen. Moreover, there are a record 21 Fortune 500 CEOs, yet this is still a small number overall.

Though half of the top defense firms are headed by women, one CEO, Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, expressed concern that these gains are not convincing enough to indicate the fullest possible progress of women stating that she “will be more convinced the industry has made a dramatic shift when I see significant numbers of female executive leaders at all levels of management throughout the entire industry.” One obstacle to this is there are not nearly enough women entering into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and most managerial jobs are still filled by men.

In spite of these concerns, there are reasons to be hopeful. Major companies, including Coca-Cola, Alcoa, and Unilever, whose women’s initiatives have garnered award recognition from Catalyst, a nonprofit membership organization designed to expand opportunities for women and business, have created programs and organizations to foster flexibility, mentoring, and advancement for women within their corporations. Moreover, individuals are taking a more active role in supporting and encouraging women’s ambitions. By way of example, Facebook COO and board member, Sheryl Sandberg has initiated and provoked thought through her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Beyond her book, she is part of a 200,000+ strong network of men and women who are “leaning in” and trying to foster a more equal world.

To better understand where people feel this trend is headed, we commissioned an online survey – here are some highlights:

  • Two thirds believe that women will make substantial advancements in leadership in the business world in the next ten years
  • However, men are more optimistic than are women about women advancing in the business world
  • The perceived best industries for advancement by women in the next ten years are industries in which women have traditionally played a larger role - Higher Education, Hospitality and Tourism and Real Estate

Thanks to Rex Repass and his team at RL Repass & Partners in Cincinnati, for conducting the research and did an outstanding job.


  • Sample: National/US – Balanced to Demographics and Geographic Regions
  • Total Completed: 595
  • Data Collection Method: Online Panel
  • Data Collection Dates: April 2013