At the top of the corporate ladder, only 5.1 percent of chief executives of S&P 1500 companies were women in 2016-17, according to Pew Research Center analysis. Below the CEO level, women fill 11.5 percent of other executive positions; just 651 of the nearly 5,700 executives in this category, including COO and CFO, are women.
The roles women are filling within the C-Suite are largely legal or financial ones, which are less likely to lead to the CEO’s chair than more operations-focused roles, Pew Research says. The executive recruiting firm Crist Holder found that more than three-quarters of CEOs at large U.S. companies had either been COOs, divisional presidents or operating executives immediately before being appointed CEO.
Of the 77 female CEOs among the S&P 1500, more than half work in just 10 industries, with eight women heading specialty retailers. Of the 67 industries represented in the index, 31 had no female CEOs at all.