While the number of female officers among Fortune 500 firms steadily increased during the early and mid-1990s, that number has decreased each year since 2005 and stalled in 2007. Last year, the boards of Fortune 500 companies were represented with only 14.8 percent women. This month's issue of Portfolio explores why there aren't more women in charge of corporate America but doesn't exactly come up with an answer to the question.
The author of the article, "Sexism," observes that nobody wants to talk about sexism because most people think there's nothing to discuss. She boldly points out that a number of the women acknowledged in the Wall Street Journal's "50 Women to Watch in 2007" list "appear deliberately, studiously unfeminine." So what? The author muses that women with power avoid criticism based on appearance by flying "below the radar," and notes Vogue editor Anna Wintour's comments when Hillary Clinton declined to do a photo shoot with the magazine.
Imagine my amazement, then, when I learned that Hillary Clinton, our only female presidential hopeful, had decided to steer clear of [being photographed for] our pages at this point in her campaign for fear of looking too feminine. The notion that a contemporary woman must look mannish in order to be taken seriously as a seeker of power is frankly dismaying." She went on to ask, "How has our culture come to this?" and state, "This is America, not Saudi Arabia."
Do you agree that femininity compromises women in positions of power? And would we be better off if the US adopted a policy similar to Norway's law, requiring that companies have board seats be composed of 40 percent women by 2008?