Oh Shut Up About Women Not Being Represented in the Fortune 500

Women In Business .. We Are Not All The Same

Feb 28, 2011 by

A recent Forbes magazine article titled Disappointing Statistics, Positive Outlook has me seeing red. My good friend and often mentor, Bruce Peters, sent it to me. He knows I like to follow the current reporting on women’s business issues.

The article starts, “As we move toward the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (March 8), it is clear that the world of business is being transformed by women, but the gender makeup of business leadership has barely changed.”

Once again, the focus is on the Fortune 500 – companies that are in the public eye, like PepsiCo. According to the article, “In 2010 only 2.4% of the U.S. Fortune 500 chief executives were female.”


Are you tired of this, girlfriends? Do you run your own business? Are you and executive of a company that isn’t on the Fortune 500 – and happy for it? I am.

Why are the 2.4% of women in chief exec positions at the Fortune 500 the only focus of pundits reporting on how far we’ve come? Why don’t they visit the Center for Women’s Business Research where they can learn that “10.1 million firms are owned by women (50% or more), employing more than 13 million people, and generating $1.9 trillion in sales as of 2008.” They would learn that “one in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.”

They would learn that women have, indeed, come far. They would learn, girlfriends, that we ladies of a certain age are out there running businesses that support our local community, that support employees, that often have a worldwide focus and that provide advice, consulting, services, and more to a boatload of other professionals – including some of the Fortune 500.

The Forbes article falls back on the recent decision by Norway to pass a law “requiring publicly listed companies to have boards composed of at least 40% women.” They say Spain and France may jump on that band wagon, and Sweden “hopes to reach its 40% target by 2015.”

Here’s my disconnect – if more women aren’t in executive positions in 2011 – maybe they don’t want to be. Maybe women are happy wherever they are.

Oh, I know – it’s hard to climb that corporate ladder if you’re female. The glass ceiling has cracks in it, but it’s not shattered yet. This is supposed to support the belief that women would be there, if they could be.

I believe that if women, as a whole, wanted that executive office, they’d have it. I believe strong women look at the big picture and make choices and sometimes the choice is to start her own business (yay!) and sometimes it’s to remain in jobs that allow her to “bring home the bacon” without working ridiculously long hours, drowned in stress, with a travel schedule that makes ‘home’ a fond ache in her bones – all without much recognition.

I have two grown daughters. One daughter is busy working on her PhD in epidemiology. She just had her first child. Her husband is very hands on with the baby. She’s busy and stressed but in a way that was chosen, with her eyes open.

This daughter says to me, her self-employed Mom, “I would never own my own business. You’re always at work. Even on weekends. And sometimes, you don’t know when you’re getting paid. I couldn’t do that. I like that regular paycheck.”

Good for her. She’s ambitious, but not striving to join a big company that might give her a corner office; she just wants to work at a career that’s fulfilling, and gives her time to be with her family.

The other daughter is self-employed. And overworked. But, she wouldn’t have it any other way, either. She could have joined a big firm (maybe not a Fortune 500 – but on track for such) and had a corner office.

She has one child that is heading for 13 years old – and the teen years loom heavy on her mind! She would be fantastic in a corner office, she just doesn’t want one. Because she’s good at what she does, she manages to have enough free time to enjoy her family, travel for pleasure, and not worry too much about finances.

WE –my daughters and I – are not represented in the Forbes article. Not only are we ignored, every woman we know who does what we do, is ignored. And that, my girlfriends, is the injustice.

The story is NOT that women aren’t sitting in fat leather chairs in a corner office in more Fortune 500 companies – the story is that reporting on the 2.4% of women in the Fortune 500 executive suite and ignoring the thousands of women who are in charge below that level, is a big injustice- In My Brazen Opinion.

We women who are supporting the economy with our small businesses are just as important as our sisters at the top. Truth is we have come a long way, baby!

Let the men and women who want the corner offices have them. The rest of us, the majority of us, will continue to take charge with vigor, verve, and focus – if we didn’t, the men and the women at the top would be watching their bottom lines crumble.

More From Yvonne

About the Author

Yvonne DiVita Has Written 12 Articles For Us!

Yvonne DiVita is the author of Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, the premier book on marketing to women online. As President of Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC specializing in Publishing 3.0 using print-on-demand, as well as business blog building and social media strategy, Yvonne is an active blogger starting with her women’s blog Lip-Sticking. Her latest book, A Little Book of Big Thoughts, is offered on her blog as an e-book and a print book. In the summer of 2009, she co-founded BlogPaws, an online pet community to support pet bloggers and pet lovers. BlogPaws has successfully held two social media conferences in 2010 and is diligently working on conference #3 for August of 2011.
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  1. Not all of us want to rule d world – http://ow.ly/47GH2 Well, I do but would prefer doing it fr d beach while sipping ice cold Coke. #atsgf

  2. RT @prashantkaw Great article & stats about Women in Business (power to you!): http://bit.ly/hPzkHi [TY! you’re 1st man 2 comment! /Toby

  3. Great article and stats about Women in Business (power to you!): http://bit.ly/hPzkHi

  4. I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity, as a woman, to try a lot of different things. I think there is a lot of pressure on men to climb the corporate ladder. Maybe the path is clearer for them, but I doubt it’s any less stressful and a high level job is a golden cage for a person who doesn’t love the work. Women, at least in the last 50 years or so, have had more freedom to choose different paths or do a variety of things over the courses of our lives. Some women raise children, some are corporate executives, some start small businesses, some do all three and more!

  5. RT @askpatty: Oh Shut Up About Women Not Being Represented in the Fortune 500 | All The Single Girlfriends http://bit.ly/h3Snwj

  6. And some of us just don’t want to rule the world anymore. Doing so can be exhausting and draining. Did that before for many years and it just got me burned out. I’m still a corporate marketing slave but I no longer try to rule the world with a single bounce. Life is too short for that. 🙂

  7. And there are only 500 of them! I left Big Bad Corporate America (Fortune 50 level) by choice. I got far enough up the food chain to realize I didn’t want to sell my soul to get any further. So, maybe – as you note – the reason there aren’t more women in the top slots in the F500 is…they have better things to do. F500’s loss.

  8. Women & Fortune 500 C-suite.O Shut Up About Women Not Being Represented http://bit.ly/hySx1h #corporate #world #fortune #500 #glass #ceiling

  9. Oh Shut Up About Women Not Being Represented in the Fortune 500 http://bit.ly/hySx1h #atsGf @y2vonne

  10. Debra Pearlman


    What a fabulous take on the working woman. I also believe that we girlfriends make choices that the mainstream media chooses to ignore. Being in a Fortune 500 company is not the end all and be all for everyone. Thank you for sharing what I think most will consider a truism of the working woman’s job choice.

  11. Thought of the day: Independence is happiness. ~ Susan B. Anthony via Gf author @y2vonne catch her post http://bit.ly/hep8XV

  12. I used to have a corner office, and I opted out to run a business of my own as a professional artist (yes, being an artist is a business). While the security of that corner office can be tempting when the economy gets challenging, I would rather put in long hours for myself than for someone else’s business.

    I think you’re right, Yvonne – we women know how to get what we want, and if most of us wanted those executive positions, we’d simply find a way to get them. But I think that perhaps there’s a bigger majority of us who look at the bigger picture – seeing our lives as a balance between work, play, family, and friends rather than climbing the corporate ladder as our only goal.
    – SerenaK

  13. I believe it’s still far more difficult for us to get business loans though. That is an indicator that there is a big problem. Do you know he stats on how far less likely we are to get a loan, Yvonne?

    Do agree with you that women may not be striving the the same positions as men in many cases. I see over and over in comedy where women don’t enter the competitions or try to produce on a bigger scale. I keep telling the ladies, “You have to play to win.”

    • Jacki, while the ability to secure loans is not easy for women, it isn’t holding many of us back. That’s my point: we’re still out there starting businesses at twice the rate of men. Young women today feel entitled – just ask, they’ll tell you they get what they want because they’re smart and talented, not because of gender. I say, good for them.

      The other thing about the loan issue is that many women are reluctant to take on debt. Maybe if more women were attempting to secure loans, the banks would take us seriously. But, women still want to do it “on their own”…and not be indebted to a bank or other funding source. THAT is holding us back more than anything else.

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