International Women’s Day 2021 sees more women occupying senior leadership roles around the world. We should celebrate this achievement while not forgetting the challenge of accelerating the progress already made. We need to take diversity in all of its forms much more seriously and urgently to ensure countries and industries everywhere realize the benefits of diverse leadership.
The chart below highlights the challenge and the opportunity ahead of us, in building a world of gender parity in some of our most important leadership roles. We often read and hear of reports about women CEOs and leaders in isolation, celebrating advances sector by sector or country by country. We felt it was important to visually show how significant women’s leadership is on the frontlines of education and healthcare, yet so nascent and slow to change in leading countries, institutions and firms that are re-shaping society.
The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women. Unlike other modern recessions, the pandemic recession has led to more job losses among women than among men. As we emerge from the devastating consequences of COVID-19, we must ensure women’s leadership is on the forefront of any economic recovery. Be that national, state, industry driven or inside your institution or firm.
Charting the Global State of Play for Women's Leadership
Over the last 10 years, in particular, a significant amount of research has been conducted on gender diversity in leadership. We start by sharing the diversity research for some of our most important workforces where women are very well represented and conclude with leadership cohorts where women are grossly under-represented.
75% of teachers in the US are female and roughly 80% of US teachers are white – serving a student body that is roughly 50% female and 50% white.
Brooking’s looked into the female dominant teacher workforce in the US, concluding it is not worrisome in most circumstances; more female teachers may even be preferred in math and science classrooms. The Brookings Institute argues in this circumstance, that promoting gender diversity in the teacher workforce does not warrant equal priority to that given racial and ethnic diversity. Targeting male teachers of color is the only place considered there is strong enough rationale to warrant recruiting more males into the profession, though it is not clear recruitment efforts alone would be enough to make much of a difference.
200 million healthcare workers globally contribute to our wellbeing and women make-up 70% of the workforce. Yet, half of women’s contribution to global health is unpaid. The ILO-OECD-WHO Working for Health programme in collaboration with the Global Health Workforce Network Gender Equity Hub aims to accelerate the expansion and transformation of the health and social workforce. The gender dividend and SDG gains are clear but require carefully prioritized public and private investments into the health and social workforce.
In public schools across the US, women make up 54.2% of school principals, according to the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees. Close to 68% of elementary school principals are women, while men make up 67.3% of high school principals and 60% of middle school principals.
Of the US’s 13,728 superintendents, 1,984 today are women, nearly doubling from the 1990s (6.6%) to 13.2% today.
Women in the United States held nearly half (49.7%) of all tenure-track positions in 2018, but they held just 39.3% of tenured positions. While women represent just over half (52.9%) of Assistant Professors and are near parity (46.4%) among Associate Professors, they accounted for just over a third (34.3%) of Professors in 2018.
Women academics in Europe held 41.3% of academic positions across the 28 countries of the European Union (EU-28) in 2016. In 2018–2019, women in India held 27.3% of Professor and equivalent faculty positions, 36.8% of Reader and Associate Professor faculty positions, and 42.6% of Lecturer/Assistant Professor faculty positions. In Australia, women held 46.8% of Senior Lecturer faculty positions and just 33.9% of above Senior Lecturer faculty positions. However, women held 54.7% of Lecturer faculty positions and 53.8% of Below Lecturer faculty positions. In Japan, women represented over half (52.3%) of full-time junior college teachers in 2018, but just 24.8% of full-time university teachers.
Women lead 20% of the world’s top universities, based on World University Rankings data from Times Higher Education. Forty-one of the top 200 universities in the latest 2021 ranking from THE have a female leader, up from 39 (19%) in 2020 and 34 (17%) in 2018. Nearly a quarter of universities in the top 100 have a female leader (24%) compared to 17% in the 100-200 band.
Eleven women appear in the list for the first time this year, with ten replacing men in the past 12 months. But progress is slow. Three female-led institutions from the 2020 ranking have dropped out of the top 200 in 2021, while six have seen changes in leadership. In every instance, this leadership change has seen the incumbent replaced by a man.
The US has seen the biggest decline in terms of the number of universities led by women, with just 10 of its 59 top-200 representatives (17%) having a female leader in 2021 (down from 13 out of 60 last year). However, Germany counteracted that loss; four of its 21 universities (19%) are now led by women, up from just one out of its 23 representatives in 2020.
14% of US startups have a female CEO according to Silicon Valley Bank’s 2020 Women in US Technology Leadership Report.
The percentage of US startups with at least one female founder has been growing in recent years, and now stands at 28% (from 22% in 2017). 42% of US startups have at least one woman in the C-suite and 40% have at least one woman on the board of directors. For startups with a female founder, 46% have a female CEO (often a startup founder serves as CEO). Conversely, just 2% of startups with a male-only founding team have a female CEO.
Interestingly, startups with a female founder are slightly less likely to rely on venture capital and slightly more likely to tap friends and family for their next source of funding. A small percentage of US startups set hiring goals specifically for women in startup executive positions (17%). Those companies using goals more typically apply them companywide (36%) or to attract female board members (33%).
Women make up approximately 30% of C-suite teams in Healthcare and 13% of CEOs according to Olivery Wyman’s 2019 Women in Healthcare Leadership report. Meanwhile, healthcare in the US is an industry where women consumers make 80 percent of buying and usage decisions and represent 65 percent of the workforce.
The report cites that Healthcare, unlike other industries, does not have a “women in healthcare” problem, but a “women in healthcare leadership” problem.
Through 2020, HolonIQ identified the top 800 EdTech startups around the world. Region by region, we mapped the most promising EdTech startups, both early and late stage. We mapped the Africa EdTech 50, Australia and New Zealand EdTech 50, Europe EdTech 100, India and South Asia EdTech 100, LATAM EdTech 100, Nordic and Baltic EdTech 50, North America EdTech 100, Russia and CIS EdTech 100 and finally the Southeast Asia EdTech 50. To be eligible, these companies had to be startups (i.e. not acquired, controlled or listed), operating in the field of education, learning or training technology, and generally less than 10 years old.
13% (104) of the Top 800 have a women CEOs or Co-CEO. 21% (170) of the Top 800 were founded or co-founded by a woman and 23% (185) of the Top 800 have a woman serving as CEO, or a woman Founder/Co-Founder or both. Through our work at HolonIQ, which is also co-founded and co-led by a woman, we are determined to play our part in eliminating the gender gap in leadership, entrepreneurship and education.
Over 13% of the US labor force currently work in healthcare, and jobs in this sector are projected to grow twice as fast as the general economy. But unlike some other industries, healthcare does not have a “pipeline problem”, as women make up 70% of healthcare workers globally.
Women CEOs make up 9.7% of all HealthTech CEOs according to Rock Health who also noted that in 2016, Women led 16% of all HealthTech companies founded that year.
37 of the companies in the 2020 Fortune 500 are led by female CEOs or 7.4%.
The Fortune 500 ranks America’s largest companies and has long been seen as a microcosm of U.S. business at large. The 2020 tally beats last year’s 33, which was itself set a new record and for perspective, twenty years ago, women ran two companies in the Fortune 500.
Only in the past four years has the growth of women in these roles accelerated past 30—a general upwards trend, though there have been dips along the way.
Women currently hold 30 (6.0%) of the 500 CEO positions based on the March 2021 S&P 500 and according to Catalysts Women CEOs of the S&P500 at 1 March 2021..
The S&P does change its constituents from time to time and numbers vary with new appointments and resignations. According to the Women’s Business Collaborative, in December 2019, Women held 30 (6.0%) of CEO positions in S&P 500 companies, at the start of 2020, women comprised 6.7% of CEO positions and with the close of 2020, women held 7.8% of CEO positions across all companies.
NASDAQ put forth its commitment requiring its 3,000+ companies listed to improve boardroom diversity by appointing at least one woman and at least one minority or LGBTQ+ person. WBC and members of its Women in the Boardroom Initiative (a total of 11 partner organizations) voice support for NASDAQ’s commitment. WBC calls for women to hold 30% of Fortune 500, S&P and Russell 3000 seats by 2025 and 10% of those women be women of color.
162 female CEOs represent 5.4% of all CEOs in the Russell 3000 according to the Conference Board. This percentage has not really changed from 2017 through 2020.
Real estate, financials, and information technology companies report the lowest percentage of women CEOs (3.1 percent, 3.4 percent, and 3.6 percent, respectively). Utilities (10.7 percent), communication services (7.6 percent), and consumer discretionary companies (7.5 percent) have the highest.
Interestingly, most female CEOs are found at manufacturing and non-financial services companies with annual revenue of less than $4.9 billion (specifically, 107 of 137 female CEOs of manufacturing and non-financial services companies in the Russell 3000, or 78.1 percent). Among real estate and financial firms, most female CEOs lead companies with asset values between $1 billion and $9.9 billion (16 of 25 female CEOs of real estate and financial companies in the Russell 3000, or 68 percent). Of the 122 real estate and financial firms with asset values greater than $25 billion, only five are led by a woman (or 4 percent of the companies in this size group).
There are less than 30% of women in FinTech, less than 5% of them are CEOs and less than 20% of women occupying executive positions according to NS Tech.
Women’s decision-making presence in the industry is firmly underrepresented, which is why fintech lacks developmental speed and strength. The blame falls on the gender balance in the industry. Today, it becomes more important than ever to decrease the gap between men and women in the fintech industry to improve the product development process that addresses the needs of all users and generates diversity across the entire playing field for success.
Each year since the New York Stock Exchange was founded, in 1817, hundreds of companies have gone public. Historically and until today, only 20 women have ever founded and led a company through to an IPO on the NYSE.
2020 was a record year for initial public offerings in the US, with over 440 throughout the year. Yet only five of those were companies founded and led by women, according to research by Business Insider and information provided by Nasdaq. Some companies have gone public with female CEOs who were not their founders, but that number is small compared to the majority. Only nine companies fit that description in 2020.