When, several decades ago, interested observers began commenting on the absence of women and minorities from corporate boardrooms and executive suites, there was not much data on the role of women in the national economy, little benchmarking, and few efforts to make the business case for breaking down the barriers that had been excluding women from positions of corporate power. Since that time, academic researchers and activists from many venues have produced a wealth of data, arguments for diversifying corporate leadership, and strategies and resources designed to create opportunities for women and minorities to advance to those positions. And yet, in 2006, the face of corporate leadership in the United States remains essentially unchanged: white and male. After describing the current landscape, this article analyzes the strength of the foundation for change that has been laid in recent years and points to some current trends that may portend a significant acceleration of the glacial pace at which women have been taking seats on boards and in executive offices. Whether the “tipping point” will occur within the next several years is unclear. What is certain, however, is that growing dissatisfaction with the performance of corporate leaders is creating more pressure for change and, consequently, a greater likelihood of expanded opportunities for those groups of outsiders whose talents have been ignored for too long. Indications that women are starting to take advantage of those opportunities — for themselves and for other women — are a hopeful sign that the face of corporate leadership may change dramatically in the years ahead.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.