Fewer women making it to the top in corporate world

October 29th, 2008 - 1:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 29 (IANS) Fewer women are making it to the top in the corporate world, a trend that has been particularly noticeable over the last two years, according to a newly released report here.Macquarie University’s Peter McGraw, director of the Labour-Management Studies Foundation which compiled and analysed the newly released 2008 data for Equal Opportunities for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA), said the numbers did not surprise him.

“I’m not surprised that the numbers of senior women have declined because this is consistent with international trends in developed economies. There have been similar findings in Britain, USA and Canada in the last year,” he said.

At the board level, there were more than 10 men to every one woman and at CEO level, there were 49 male CEOs for every female CEO in the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) 200.

Women chaired just four boards and held 8.3 percent of board director positions, declining from a high of 8.7 percent in 2006. Just over half of all ASX 200 boards have no women board directors.

At the time the census was taken, women held just four CEO positions. The current declines do not bode well for next generation of aspiring women executives, a Macquarie University release quoted McGraw as saying.

He found that the number of women managers declined from 12 percent in 2006 to 10.7 percent in 2008. Besides, the number of companies with no women executive managers rose sharply from 39.5 percent in 2006 to 45.5 percent in 2008.

“I think there are probably several reasons including old fashioned discrimination, rigid working patterns which discourage women looking for more flexible arrangements and not enough female mentors and role models to encourage women on the tough road to the top,” McGraw informed.

While the number of women in line management roles grew from 4.7 percent in 2003 to 7.4 percent in 2006, the 2008 report found those gains were actually reversed to pre-2004 levels dipping to 5.9 percent. McGraw said the same downward trend was also reported in the 2007 US census.

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