News and Announcements

Catalyst Census Posts Solid Gains in Percentage of Women Corporate Officers in America's Largest 500 Corporations

Women Continue to Lag Far Behind Men in Line Officer Positions

Women represent 11.9 percent of corporate officers (1,386 out of a total of 11,681) in America's 500 largest companies as of March 31, 1999, an increase of nearly 37 percent since 1995, according to the 1999 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners. Women top earners have more than doubled since 1995—growing from 29 women (1.2 percent of all top earners) in 1995 to 77 (3.3 percent) in 1999—though the numbers remain relatively meager. Companies with two or more women officers increased 28 percent, from 220 (or 44 percent) in 1995 to 282 companies (or 56 percent) in 1999.

Percent of Women Corporate Officers: A Five-Year Perspective

The Catalyst Census reports that men hold 93.2 percent of line officer jobs—the jobs with profit-and-loss responsibility that very often lead to the top spots—while women fill the remaining 6.8 percent, up from 6.2 percent last year. Nearly half (47.3 percent) of all corporate officer positions in the Fortune 500 are line officer jobs.

Total Line Positions Among Corporate Officers, by Gender

Catalyst President Sheila Wellington notes that “Until more women move into line positions, you won't find women in many corner offices. Unfortunately, we're not making great strides here. Women's lack of access to line jobs is the final obstacle to advancement.”

This year women hold 5.1 percent of “clout” titles, those that wield the most influence and policy-making power, up from 2.4 percent in 1995. Catalyst defines clout titles as: Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Vice Chairman, President, Chief Operating Officer, Senior Executive Vice President, and Executive Vice President.

Seventy-two companies have at least one female corporate officer who is a top earner (up from 44 companies in 1995); five companies have two women top earners: Arrow Electronics, Avon Products, Inc., Conectiv, Times Mirror, and Washington Mutual. More than 85 percent of the 500 companies lack a woman among their five highest earning officers.

For the first time, Catalyst obtained data about women of color corporate officers from 340 of the 500 companies. There is not good news on that front. Of the 340 companies that shared their data, there are only 105 women of color—a mere 1.3 percent of the total officer pool and 11.2 percent of all women corporate officers in the reporting companies.

Fourteen companies stand out along the three key metrics measured by this census: 1) corporate officers, 2) corporate line officers (a subset of corporate officers), and 3) top earners. These 14 companies all have at least 25 percent women corporate officers and 15 percent women line officers (doubling the national percentages of 11.9 and 6.8 percent, respectively) and at least one woman top earner.

Outstanding Companies With High Percentages of Women Corporate Officers, Women Line Officers, and Women Top Earners
  % Women Corp Officers % Women Line Officers Women Top Earners   %Women Corp. Officers %Women Line Officers Women Top Earners
Avon 43% 33% 2 Mattel 31% 50% 1
BJ's 33% 25% 1 Paine Webber 33% 20% 1
Dayton Hudson 35% 38% 1 SLM Holding 33% 20% 1
Enron 29% 20% 1 Solectron 25% 17% 1
Hannaford Bros. 30% 46% 1 Southwest Airlines 33% 56% 1
Kelly Svcs. 29% 25% 1 Times Mirror 36% 33% 2
Knight-Ridder 33% 25% 1 Washington Mutual 38% 29% 2

The 1999 Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners lists the number and titles of women corporate officers and top earners of each of the Fortune 500 companies, cross-referencing the companies by industry and geographic region, and for the first time presents aggregated data on the number and percent of women-of-color corporate officers. Data is based on proxies and annual reports and observes a cut-off date of March 31, 1999.

Catalyst is the nonprofit research and advisory organization that works with business to advance women. Its dual mission is to enable professional women to achieve their maximum potential and to help employers capitalize fully on the talents of their female employees. In 1993, Catalyst published its first Census of Women Board Directors of the Fortune 500 to measure women's progress in corporate governance arenas and, in 1996, launched the Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners. For more information about Catalyst, please visit our Web site at or call 212-514-7600.