Women Managers in Top Business Corporations


Apart from a few cases, the boards of directors in companies have over time been composed of males. However, this trend has been changing, though at a very slow pace. According to Rosener (1), based on the recent figures, the female gender is composed of 11 percent of Fortune 1000 company board positions, and 25 percent of these companies do not have females on the boards. It is true that Fortune companies form just a portion of the companies in the United States of America, but then since the knowledge about the companies that are not publicly listed is limited, this brings in reliance on the data that is available. The issue of having few women in top management positions has prompted several researches to carry out research on this issue. This research project is going to establish the reasons why there is a few women in the top management positions and yet there is a great interest in seeking to increase this number.

Statement of the problem

The number of women in the top management positions is quite low as compared to the number of men in these positions. Most of the women have only been placed in lower positions where they do not have any influence in matters concerning the management of the business organizations they are engaged in. This trend has persisted for a long time and despite the fact, beginning from the recent times, that there have been changes and some organizations are filling these positions with women, such changes are moving at a very slow pace and it might take many decades to see the number of women in these positions rising to substantial levels.

Having a low number of women in the top management positions in business organizations sends out negative signals in that there can easily be a general notion that women are in a way inferior to men and yet this is not necessarily the case. Therefore there is a great need to establish the specific reasons as to why we have a very small number of female directors in business organizations.


This study is going to seek to establish the reasons why there are a small number of women in top management positions. In the current times, men, as well as women, are acquiring adequate education to enable them to engage in managing business organizations. Women, as well as men, are equally qualified to manage the companies since both men and women are acquiring degrees in the field of business management (Bilimoria and Piderit 232).

More so, there is no substantial proof to show that men are good managers than women and therefore they can not be denied jobs on this basis. This research is quite important since it is going to establish the specific reasons for having few women or no women on boards of the business organizations. Having these reasons been established, it will now be easier to take appropriate measures to ensure this trend changes.

In turn, changing this trend will play a major role in ensuring that we are living in a balanced society in which each and every member of the society is offered an equal opportunity to exploit his or her talents. By failing to bring on board the women directors, there is a possibility that particular talents that could otherwise be very useful are not being used. There is a great need to utilize these talents adequately and it might not be surprising to find that among the firms that are not performing well, it might be for the reason that they have not considered including the women in their top management. It might be that the companies are not performing to their optimal level because they have overlooked the idea of offering women the positions on their boards.

There have been several studies that have been carried out regarding this issue. However, these researches that have been carried out so far might have lacked some accuracy due to the small sample sizes they might have used, or they might be outdated and can not give out up-to-date information. Therefore, this study is aimed at bringing out up-to-date results with a higher level of accuracy regarding the issue under question. Basing on the results that are reliable in terms of accuracy and timeliness, this will ensure setting up of new policies by the business organizations to effectively deal with this issue of low numbers of women in top management which might turn out to be of great benefit to the organizations themselves and to the society as a whole.


The main objective of this research project is to find out the reasons why there are few women in top management positions in companies. It has been established that there is a very low number of women in top management positions as compared to men. Among the business organizations, most of them have their boards dominated by men and even in some cases, there is not even a single woman on their boards (Davidson and Burke (b) 238). This broad objective is broken down into narrower objectives which include:

  • To find out the actual percentage of women in the top management positions in firms
  • To find out whether the presence of women in top management positions make good business sense
  • To find out whether there are any negative stereotypes attached to having women on the boards of directors in the companies
  • To establish whether there is an adequate number of women who are qualified to take up top management positions


In this research project, it will be assumed that the presence of women in the top management positions does not make good business sense, and possibly this is the reason why many business organizations do not see the need to offer positions to the women on their boards.

More so, another hypothesis in this research will be that there are some negative stereotypes that are attached to having women on the boards. It is possible that the male chief executive officers regard women as being incompetent and commit most of their time taking care of their families than engagement in matters concerning the management of the business organizations. This might be the reason why they might have been reluctant to offer higher positions to women in their organizations.

More so, another assumption of this research is going to be that the shortage of women in top management positions stems from the issue that there might be a limited number of those women who are qualified to take up those positions. Following this, the companies may be striving to get the women who are qualified so that they may be on the board of directors and yet these efforts are turned down for the reason that the organizations are not able to find them.

Also, another assumption or hypothesis is that there are very few women directors as compared to the number of men. In fact, this is the basis of this research project. All these assumptions are going to be tested to come up with a clear picture of the actual situation regarding reasons why there are few women in the top management positions in business organizations.

Literature review

According to Joyce (1), there is a great misrepresentation of women in the top leadership positions in the companies. This is based on the study that had been carried out in recent times within the year by Catalyst which is a non-profit research organization whose duty is to study women at work. According to her, it is possibly not a surprise that the number of women has not gotten any much better in the top management positions of the companies in a period of ten years that have passed within which there has been the compilation of the statistics.

According to that study, in the year 2005, about sixteen percent of the corporate officer positions were held by women. This is a very small rise consisting of 0.7 percent in comparison to the year 2002. This research institution carries out the measurement of the Fortune 500 firms since these companies obtain high returns within the country. Joyce (1) puts it that if this is the trend to be followed in which there has been 0.82 percent points each year for the last ten years, then there is a likelihood that it will have to take another forty years before there is the realization of an equal number of men and women in the top management positions in the Fortune 500 companies.

The studies carried out in the recent times, especially in the UK, in regard to the issue of having a small number of women in top management positions in companies are mostly concerned with such questions that revolve around such issues as the reasons as to why we have a few women in the leader positions in corporations, what the predictors are, and if there are any discriminations being carried out and what the remedies are to this problem at the company level as well as at the national level (Singh and Vinicombe 483).

Other studies which basically are of the qualitative nature concentrates on the experiences of the directors that are women and the perceptions they have as the directors of the companies. Such studies carried out the exploration of the women directors’ characteristics in detail in comparison to the male directors. More so, there has been an exploration of the effects of the female top managers have on performance in regard to the finances. What has been established is that there is the existence of a very weak relationship between the two.

Rosener (3) in the interviews she carried out established that among the organizations that are not having female directors there are those in which the absence of women in these positions is for the reason that there are no females to occupy those positions. The qualities of women in such corporations among them are those that are not possessed by the males. She suggests that the claims by some companies that they can not get female directors do not carry much substance since there is no shortage of the qualified female directors and if a company wants to have one it has to take an initiative of looking for one just the same way those companies having female directors have been doing. This tends to suggest that the lack of women in the top management positions should not be attributed to having an inadequate number of women to be employed in these positions.

However, there is a great misfortune on the side of women when it comes to them aspiring to take leadership positions in the boards of the companies. They have a great disadvantage over their male counterparts even if they might be having track records and expertise that enables them to qualify for these positions (OECD, 123). This is partially for the reason that those people who carry out the appointments of the member of the board consider candidates in regard to their own personal networks and as well as professional set of connections (Davidson and Burke (a) 4).

Such connections have over time not carried out the inclusion of women and therefore there exist a very minimal number of women on the radar screen they have. As the search companies encompass females in the director candidate collections, the lack of advantage still remains for the reason that carrying out business with the top management female executives is an experience that remains new for several males in customer companies, and there exist a faint comfort issue that can not be left out.

People have a preference of being close to those people who are like themselves in order to fully comprehend and predict their behaviors. This is the greatest reason as to why there is a preference among men to have fellow men on the board. And as such, there has been perpetuation of employing more and more men in the top management positions as time has been going by.

Because of the confusion and discomfort men encounter in the course of working with the women, the women candidates for the top management positions are in most cases exposed to competence testing. This gives an implication that women have to engage in giving prove about themselves of frequently of being able to meet particular qualities and such qualities might not even be met by the men themselves. As being of great significance, the females have to ensure that the interviewing or selecting panel of the top managers have no any doubt about their style and are assured of their competence. This gives an implication that there has been no much trust that women can be able to take top jobs in the management of the organizations.

According to Nemko (1), on average terms, the women are rated as being better managers than men. This is of great significance since it is the women who carry out purchases on frequent terms. Therefore Nemko (1) poses a question as to why there is an eleven percent figure for the senior top executives in the Fortune 500. He puts it that the basic reason for this is that the probability of the male executives committing more time to their work is higher than that of the females. This is according to the study that was carried out by The Business Roundtable.

According to Rosener (2006), the females are in the place of work to stay and most of these women are not in for jobs but careers instead. She emphasizes that if the companies are to select and offer training to those employees that are skilled, the managers and the executives in time to come, there should be consideration by these companies of women as a significant portion of their work pool. The women forms about a half of the labor force and a half of this number of women in the labor force are those women who have acquired college education and they hold degrees. Therefore, the women are being prepared to occupy senior positions in the companies and these women have aspirations to occupy these positions. These women are no longer satisfied to occupy such positions that can not enable them to realize significant life experience.

Thus, this leads to idea that there should be much paying of attention to those women who have the potential to occupy higher positions since these people form a percentage that is undergoing growth of the labor pool (Burke and Nelson 4). For those companies that have women occupying the top management positions send out a signal that there is high valuing of the women within their business organization.

There is a possibility that the most powerful argument for having women to occupy top management positions is that having them in such positions brings about improvement in the corporate governance (Daily, Dalton and Cannella 381). There have been suggestions made by the women that their presence on the corporate boards alters the direction of the conversations held. More so, there is a tendency for woman to raise more questions than men. This is for the reason that the females originate from an environment that is absolutely different from the one the men originate from. They tend to ask those questions that could easily be avoided being asked by the men. Such questions might be quite helpful in coming up with very important decisions that might lead to the success of the business organization.

Rosener (1), goes ahead to point out that the role of a chief executive officer of any organization to promote the women to high management positions and this issue becomes key. The chief executive officer of Wellpoint, the largest company in the health care industry that is publicly traded within the country, is given as an example who show much commitment. This company is a Fortune 500 firm and it has nine members on the board. Among these nine members, four of them are women and this is the highest proportion in the country. A quarter of the executive vice presidents of this company are women. More so, 36 percent of the general managers are females.

The Wellpoint Company has attained so much success financially and if the chief executive officer of this company was able to get four women to place on the board composed of nine members, this implies that the chief executive officers of other companies are able to find even if it be one woman to put on their boards.

Roy Alder carried out a research in which he considered some 215 Fortune 500 companies. He is a university professor in California. In this study he was trying to carry out a comparison of the financial performance of these companies to industry medians. This study revealed that those firms having a highest proportion of the female executives performed much far well. These findings were supported by those that were supported by those of the Canadian Conference Board. This board tracked the financial welfare of those companies having at least two women on their boards in the year 1995 to find out at which position such companies will have to stand after six years that followed. It was later established that those companies having women on their boards had a high likelihood of being leaders on the basis of revenue as compared to those companies having only men on their boards. And thus, there is an indication we a relationship between the financial performance of a business organization and having women on the board.

Rosener concludes that more research is needed to be carried out on the companies in the United States of America in order to give an explanation on the way and the reason for the presence of women on the boards’ makes good business sense. But it is important to note that in the current times there is evidence that having the women on the board makes good business sense. Showing commitment to have women in the top management positions matches with the nature of the available labor force, the great need to boost corporate governance, and also matches with the ever existing need to bring up the level of income by the business enterprises.

Taking the case in the UK, there are still a few women in the top management positions. According to Sparrow and Asthana (1), Prime Minister Gordon Brown reported that the issue of lacking women in the top management position is not an issue to be taken lightly and this should not be acceptable. The PM puts it that in time to come, there will be ensuring that serious measures are taken in order for the business organizations employ women in top management positions in order to utilize the talents the nation has to the optimal level. There should also be measures that make sure the companies are issuing out reports in regard on what they arte doing as far as recruiting women in top management positions is concerned. It is also reported that in the UK, half the number of the graduates are females and this implies that it is not right that some big business organizations especially the top one hundred companies do not have even just one woman in the top management position Sparrow and Asthana, Para 5).

Basing on the results given out from a survey that was carried out in the month of March, 2010, 80 percent of the people surveyed have a strong belief that raising the number of women in the top management positions so as to be close to the number of men in this positions will bring in improvement in the way businesses will run because this will offer an improved understanding of the clients. The study also established that having a small number of women in the top management positions plays a major negative of role of losing out talent (Sparrow and Asthana, Para 8).


Data Collection and sample

This study is going to base on a survey that is going to be conducted among the United States medium sized companies. The sample will consist of those firms having between 50 and 5000 employees. The survey sample will be drawn from the innovation-survey in the value creating Board database. There will be the distribution of a total of 1500 questionnaires to the chief executive officers of the sample firms. This sample size is regarded as one that is going to give out fairly accurate results.

The questionnaire will be designed basing on the objectives of the study in order to make sure that the desired results are obtained. This research project is going to establish the approximate percent of women who are in the top management positions in comparison to men. More so, the research is going to engage in finding out whether there are any negative stereotypes attached to having women in top management positions.

More so, the purpose of this research is to find out whether there are enough women who are qualified to take up positions in the top management of the business organizations. The last main aim of this research is to try to establish whether having women in the top management positions makes any good business sense or not. The questions listed in the questionnaire will have to ensure that all this objectives are considered. More so, the questionnaire will be designed in a way that the study does not only confine to the objectives under consideration but it will as well make it possible to look at other issues that are related.

After the questionnaires are filled up by the respective respondents, they will be collected back and what will follow is to carry out the cleaning up of these questionnaires in readiness for analysis using the appropriate methods.

Method of Analysis

The method of analysis of the data collected will basically be multiple linear regression method. This will be used to test the hypotheses that have been stated in this research proposal. Each hypothesis will be tested at a time. The descriptive method of analysis will also be used in which graphs, and tables will be used to represent the data in order for it to be interpreted more easily.

Each objective will have to be considered separately in order to come up with the results that are clear and that answer all the questions that have to be answered by this research project. After carrying out the analysis of the data, a research report will be prepared and be presented to the relevant parties in order for the appropriate steps to be taken basing on the findings of the research.

Works Cited

Bilimoria, Diana, and Piderit, S. Kristin. Handbook on women in business and management. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007.

Burke, Ronald, and Nelson, Debra. Advancing women’s careers: research and practice. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Daily Charles, Dalton Ronald, and Cannella Allan. Corporate governance: Decades of dialogue and data. Academy of Management Review, 2003. 28(3): 371-382

Davidson Marilyn, and Burke Ronald (a), Women in management worldwide: facts, figures and analysis. New York: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004.

Davidson, Marilyn, and Burke, Ronald (b). Women in management: current research issues. New York: SAGE, 2000.

Joyce, Amy. “Women severely under-represented in Fortune 500 companies.” Washington Post 6. 2006. Web.

Nemko, Marty. “The Real reason so few women are in the boardroom.” Marty Nemko, 2004. Web.

OECD. Women in Scientific Careers: Unleashing the Potential. OECD Publishing, 2006.

Rosener, Judy. “Women on corporate boards make good business sense.” WomensMedia.com, 2009. Web.

Singh Val and Vinicombe Susan. Why so few women directors in top UK boards? Evidence and theoretical explanations, Corporate Governance: An International Review, 2004. 12, 4, 479-488.

Sparrow Andrew and Asthana Anushka, Absence of women from top boards is unacceptable, says Gordon Brown. 2010. Web.

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