July 28, 2017; No. CCXLXV

July 28, 2017; No. CCXLXV


Women who aspire to the C-Suite face far more resistance, both overt and subtle, than they expected, according to a New York Times analysis following interviews with dozens of women senior executives, search firms, and human resource professionals.  The conclusion of many senior women in business is that the barriers for them to become CEO are more deeply rooted and persistent than they had believed.

Women who are CEOs: CEO of GE Poland and the Baltics Beata Stelmach; President, HVAC and Transport, Latin America, for Ingersoll-Rand Maria Blase; CEO of UBS Brazil Sylvia Coutinho; and CEO of Siemens South Africa Sabine dall’Omo, with Moderator, Summit President Irene Natividad, in center

Currently, 32 women hold CEO posts among the US Fortune 500 companies and even fewer are in charge in European blue-chip companies.  Yet, after nearly a half-century of women pouring into the workforce, it can no longer be seen as a pipeline question.  “I have been watching the pipeline for 25,” said Julie Baum of search firm Spencer Stuart. “There is real bias, and without the ability to shine a light on it, and really measure it, I don’t think anything’s going to change.”

A Korn Ferry Survey in April of 786 male and female senior executives also showed the extent of the barriers women face.  43% said they thought that continued bias against women as CEOs was the primary reason more women did not make it to the top and 33% thought women in their companies were not given sufficient opportunities to become leaders.

Other recent studies have shown that women who negotiate well promotions for themselves are more likely to be labeled “intimidating” or “bossy”, and that they are less likely than men to believe that they will be able to participate in meetings, receive challenging assignments, or find their contributions valued.    As a result, data predicts that at least half of all women earning an M.B.A. this year will drop out of the workforce within ten years.

The interviews with the women senior executives and the various studies shows that tracing what role gender plays in corporate decisions is often elusive.  The testimony and the data show, though, that women continue to encounter bias, whether subtle or blatant, as they strive to achieve top positions. (“Why Women Aren’t CEOs,” The New York Times, July 23, 2017)

To see all of the women running U.S. Fortune 500 companies, click here.


Previous studies have documented the sizable gender gap in funding Silicon Valley start-ups.  In fact, male entrepreneurs received $58.2 billion in start-up capital, while women entrepreneurs took in $1.5 billion, or just 2.5% of all funds in 2016.  The explanation for the gap has centered on venture capitalists tending to back entrepreneurs who have succeeded before or who fit a certain mold.

However, as women in Silicon Valley have come forth in significant numbers recently describing the sexual advances that come with negotiating, financing, jobs, and partnerships, another explanation for the gap in funding has emerged: A pattern of suggestive remarks and sexual propositions, misogyny, and assaults are too often a part of the capital-raising process for women.

Some in Silicon Valley are now trying to address this work-based sexism.  LinkedIn Founder and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, for example, has called on his peers to sign a decency pledge.  CEO of Ellevest Sallie Krawcheck says there should be a funding pledge instead to equal the playing field.  Lisa Wang, a tech entrepreneur who failed to secure venture funding for her business – Fooze – has set up SheWorx, a group of 20,000 women entrepreneurs trying to close the funding gap.

The number of women starting their own tech companies is growing even as the funding gap continues to widen and as the number of women investing partners shrinks.  In this environment, the challenges for women entrepreneurs are great, but the risk taken by firms can be rewarded.  Studies show that companies with female leadership perform better than those with male leadership.  One venture capital firm, Venture Firm First Round Capital, found that companies in which they invested with at least one woman founder performed 63% better than all-male founder teams.    (“Sexism and Silicon Valley: Women Can’t Raise Cash and Now We Have One More Reason Why,” USA Today, July 14, 2017)


New York City, San Francisco, London, Boston, and Stockholm are the top five cities for high potential women entrepreneurs, according to the Dell Women Entrepreneurs Cities Index, released this month.  The index ranked 50 cities globally for their ability to attract and foster the growth of women-owned firms focusing on five characteristics: capital, technology, talent, culture, and markets.

Dell has undertaken this research with the goal of advising entrepreneurs and policy-makers on how to improve conditions to enable businesses founded by women to thrive.  One of the study’s key findings is that when impediments to female entrepreneurship are removed, there is a dramatic uplift in a city’s economic prospects.

In the top ten cities overall, six are in the U.S. – New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Seattle.  Two of the top ten cities are in Europe (London and Stockholm), one is in Canada (Toronto), and one is in Asia (Singapore).  (“Executive Summary: Dell Women’s Cities Entrepreneurs Index 2017”)

Ranking 11th overall and 2nd for Culture is Sydney, Australia, the site of the 2018 Global Summit of Women.  The report notes Sydney’s high standard of living and growing start-up culture.  Sydney’s weaknesses are its gender wage gap and high property prices, which can be an impediment for entrepreneurs establishing themselves in the city.

Angela Fox, Co-Leader for Dell in Australia and New Zealand is quoted as saying about Sydney, “The enablers are definitely there, there are great role models happening but there is still opportunity around access to capital.” (“If you’re a female entrepreneur, Australia’s not a bad place to live,” Sydney Morning Herald, July 18, 2017)

Women in business from around the world will have the opportunity to meet many of Sydney’s “great role models” at the 2018 Global Summit of Women, which takes place in Sydney from April 26-28, 2018.

To see highlights from the 2017 Global Summit of Women, visit www.globewomen.org/globalsummit

Australian delegation at the Tokyo Summit in May 2017 announcing Australia as 2018 Host Country



APRIL 26-28, 2018

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