Facts & Statistics

Women, Education and Leadership

  • Women have made great strides in higher education in the last 40 years. In 1969, women were awarded 42% of BAs by degree-granting institutions according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2005, that proportion had jumped to 57% and has held steady.
  • Women are entering the workforce in record numbers. As of 2008, they comprised 50.8% of the professional workforce according to Catalyst Inc.
  • Statistically, women’s success in the professional workforce in general has not translated to the same representation at upper level management according to Catalyst. As of 2008, women represented only 15.2% of board seats, 3% of CEOs and 15.7% of corporate officers of the Fortune 500.

Financial Reasons for Gender Diversity

  • In a 2004 study of 353 Fortune 500 companies, Catalyst Inc stated that “the group of companies with the highest representation of women on their top management teams experienced better financial performance than the group of companies with the lowest representation. This finding holds for both financial measures analyzed: Return on Equity (ROE), which is 35.1% higher and Total Return to Shareholders (TRS), which is 34.0% higher. Continue Reading
  • According to a 2008 McKinsey Quarterly article, “companies that hire and retain more women not only are doing the right thing but can also gain a competitive edge. These companies will be able to draw from a greater pool of talent in an era of talent shortages. What’s more, research shows a correlation between high numbers of female senior executives and stronger financial performance. Continue Reading
  • Professors at the business schools of Columbia University and the University of Maryland have also studied the correlation between gender diversity in leadership and company financial performance. Using data on 1,500 US companies from 1992 to 2006, Cristian L. Dezsõ and David Gaddis Ross “find a positive association between firm performance and female participation below the CEO level “ and a “strong positive association between Tobin’s Q, return on assets, and return on equity on the one hand and [female top-management] participation rate on the other.” Continue Reading
  • In “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity,” David Thomas, professor at Harvard Business School, argues that diversity is necessary at top levels of organizations. Why? One of the reasons is improved financial performance. Continue Reading