Female CEOs on the Rise

The percentage of outgoing CEOs replaced by women increased 11% in 2006 and so far the upward trend appears to be continuing in 2007, according to a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., which tracks CEO changes daily. 

Of the 1,051 CEO departure announcements in 2006 that included succession details, 86 or 8.2% of the replacement CEOs were women. That was up from 2005 when 51 women took the reins, representing 7.4% of all CEO replacements. 

So far in 2007, 17 of the 183 (9.2%) CEO replacements named have been women. 

The Challenger survey also found that of the 86 women replacing outgoing CEOs in 2006, 24 or nearly one in three were taking over for men. Through February 2007, 12 of the 17 women taking over as CEO replaced men.

The health care industry is the leading supporter of women CEOs. Nearly one quarter (24%) of the women replacement CEOs in 2006 were in the health care sector. 17% ran government or non-profit companies, and 9% took over at companies in the financial sector.

A recent Catalyst study found 15.6% of corporate officer posts in Fortune 500 companies were women, down from 16.4% in 2005. Moreover, recent studies have found that almost 30% of women voluntarily leave the workplace. 

In fact, a new study from the Simmons School of Management in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard found that only 18 percent of women left their jobs voluntarily, while 90 percent of women used a flexible work schedule to maintain full-time employment.

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