By Del Jones
Women continued to scale their way to the top jobs at the biggest companies, even in a sluggish economy that offered fewer chances at promotion.
Minority women, however, made little progress.
And for all women, it will take another 39 years at the current rate of progress before women occupy half of corporate officer jobs, according to Catalyst, an organization that focuses on the advancement of female executives.
Catalyst's 2002 census released today shows:
* Nearly 16% of Fortune 500 corporate officers are women, up from 12.5% in 2000 and 8.7% in 1995.
* The percentage of women holding so-called clout titles from executive vice president up to CEO increased to 7.9% in 2002 from 1.9% in 1995. Women who ranked among the five best-paid officers at their companies increased to 5.2% in 2002 from 4.1% in 2000 and 1.2% in 1995.
* Marion Sandler of Golden West Financial was the only female CEO of one of the largest 500 companies in 1995. Today, she is joined by five others: Marce Fuller at Mirant, Patricia Russo at Lucent Technologies, Anne Mulcahy at Xerox, Andrea Jung at Avon Products and Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard, the largest company with a woman as CEO, with $45.2 billion in 2002 revenue. Combined, the five companies had revenue of $129 billion in 2002, more than the gross domestic product of Ireland.
* Sixty of the Fortune 500 companies had 25% or more female corporate officers in 2002, up from 50 companies in 2000.
However, 71 of the 500 companies have no female officers.
Aquila, an energy company that ranks 33rd on the Fortune 500, is the largest company to have no female officer. Spokesman Ethan Hirsch says that's only because Catalyst caught them on a bad year. Sally McElwreath, senior vice president of corporate communications, retired last year. Energy companies have suffered since the Enron scandal became public a year ago. Aquila has cut 1,600 jobs this year, leaving little room for promotion among men or women, Hirsch says.
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The percentage gains made by executive women in all industries over the last two years are unprecedented in a slow economy. Such gains were not made during the last recession a decade ago, Wellington says.
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Garrison says it is notable that companies such as Pitney Bowes and Harley-Davidson, companies whose products are seldom targeted at women, have joined those such as Avon Products and Liz Claiborne among companies with 25% or more female corporate officers.