Knowledge Center

Women in Management

Data and sources for Global, Australia, Canada, Europe, India, Japan, and the United States.


The Percentage of Women in Senior Roles is Slowly Growing Worldwide, But at This Pace We Won't Reach Parity for Decades1

Women held under a quarter (24%) of senior roles across the world in 2016—an increase of only 3% from 2011.2

  • One third (33%) of global businesses had no women in senior management roles, a number which has not changed since 2011.3
  • At this rate of change, women will not reach parity with men until 2060.4
The "Glass Ceiling" Still Separates Women from Top Leadership5

Men may be still viewed as default business leaders, affirming the “think-manager-think-male” mindset.6

  • Senior managers often apply gender stereotypes to leadership—women “take care,” men “take charge.”7


Men Dominate Most Senior Levels of Management8

In 2015–2016, women represented just over a third (37.4%) of all managers in Australia.9

  • Women are less likely to reach the top levels of management. In 2015–2016, women accounted for:10
    • 40.8% of other (i.e., non-senior) managers11
    • 34.1% of senior managers
    • 30.1% of other executives/general managers
    • 28.5% of key management personnel12
    • 16.3% of CEOs/Heads of Business
  • Overall, women managers (except CEOs) made AUD$53,081 less than their male counterparts in total remuneration, which included full-time annual salary and bonuses.13


The Government Cabinet Office Is at Parity, but Businesses Are Not14

In Canada, women accounted for more than a third (35.1%) of all managers, but only 31.8% of senior managers, in 2015.15

Women made up just 42 of the 526 C-level executives among Canada’s 100 largest publicly traded corporations in 2016.16


Eastern Europe Leads the World in Gender-Diverse Leadership17

Russia topped Grant Thornton’s ranking of countries with women in senior roles—women filled almost half (45%) of senior roles in 2016.18

While Italy had more than a quarter (29%) of women in senior roles, Ireland (19%), the Netherlands (18%), and Germany (15%) performed lower than the global average (24%) in 2016.19

  • In 2016, women’s representation in senior management (21%) in the United Kingdom slightly declined from the previous year (22%), and over a third (36%) of UK businesses had no women in senior roles (the country’s highest recorded percentage).20

Among the largest publicly listed companies in the European Union (EU-28) in 2016, only 15% of executives and 5% of CEOs are women.21

Women's Representation Is Gradually Increasing in European Governments22

Women’s share of roles in European national governments has increased about 0.7% per year since 2004.23

Among the EU-28 national parliaments in 2016, over a quarter of members of both the single or lower houses (29%) and the upper houses (27%) were women.24


Nearly Half of Indian Women Leave the Workforce Between Junior and Middle Management Levels25

A study of 42 companies in India revealed that a gender gap exists at all levels of the pipeline for women, and widens as women move toward senior management/CEO levels, indicating a disconnect between current strategies and women’s inclusion.26

In 2016, women held only 16% of all senior roles in India.27

A 2015 study of 240 large Indian and multinational corporations found that women accounted for 11% of CEOs.28

  • Over half (54%) of women CEOs were in the banking and financial services industry.29


Japan Has Set Targets for Women in Management Positions30

In 2003, Japan set a goal of increasing women in all leadership positions to 30% by 2020.31

As of 2015:32

  • At government headquarters, women are a small minority among directors (3.5%).
  • In private corporations, women accounted for:
    • 17.0% of section chiefs
    • 9.8% of directors
    • 6.2% of department managers

Just 7% of senior roles were held by women, and nearly three in four businesses (73%) had no women in senior management in 2016.33

United States

American Business Leaders Are Still Overwhelmingly Men34

In the United States, women were nearly half (46.8%) of the labor force,35 but only slightly over a third (39.2%) of managers in 2015.36

  • Women made up the highest share of managers in medical and health services (73.7%) and human resources (73.3%) occupations.37

Among all senior roles in 2016, 23% were held by women—the highest recorded level since 2007. However, the percentage of US businesses with no women at all in senior roles rose to its highest recorded level since 2011: almost a third (31%).38

In S&P 500 Companies, the Higher Up the Corporate Ladder, the Fewer the Women39


Additional Resources

Catalyst, The Promise of Future Leadership: A Research Program on Highly Talented Employees in the Pipeline (2009-2016).

Catalyst, Quick Take: Women on Corporate Boards Globally.

Catalyst, Women CEOs of the S&P 500.

Julia Dawson, Richard Kersley, and Stefano Natella, The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change (Credit Suisse Research Institute, 2016).

Sandrine Devillard, Sandra Sancier, Charlotte Werner, Ina Maller, and Cecile Kossoff, Gender Diversity in Top Management: Moving Corporate Culture, Moving Boundaries (McKinsey & Company/Women Matter, 2013).

International Labour Organization, Women in Business Management: Gaining Momentum: Global Report (2015).

Mercer, When Women Thrive, Businesses Thrive: Executive Report (2016).

Lareina Yee, Alexis Krivkovich, Eric Kutcher, Blair Epstein, Rachel Thomas, Ashley Finch, and Marianne Cooper, Women in the Workplace 2016 (Lean In/McKinsey & Company, 2016).


How to cite this product: Catalyst. Quick Take: Women in Management. New York: Catalyst, February 7, 2017.