Sex discrimination was prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But as we noted last time, discussing Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech and the topic of equal pay for women, the issue is complex, and that is one reason that even with all of the legislation since 1964 that as further amended and augmented the Civil Rights Act, there are still discrepancies in the American workforce between men and women.
Much has been said of the so-called “glass ceiling” and the issue of the advancement of women into positions of power and authority with the management and boards of directors of major U.S. companies. While few of these businesses present any of the former vestiges of former times, with women relegated to secretarial pools, the glass ceiling still seem firmly in place.
A recent analysis of S&P 1,500 businesses found that the ratio of women on boards of directors was one woman for every James, Robert, John or William (more precisely, 1.03 of the men). In other words, there are more men with just those four names than all the women on all of the boards.
Moreover, most boards only have one woman, if they have any. More troublingly, among chief executives, there are more named John than all of the women on the boards combined. As for chief executives, women are outnumbered 25 to one.
While this may be an improvement from the days of “Mad Men,” we clearly have not reached a place where women are seen as equals in the boardroom. And there is little doubt that this lack of women in positions of power translates in to unequal opportunity for women throughout the company.
The New York Times, “Fewer Women Run Big Companies Than Men Named John,” Jason Wolfers, March 2, 2015