Two new surveys by research group Catalyst, summarized by Fortune in the piece Why are there so few women in top leadership jobs?, demonstrates that, despite some high profile women atop the corporate ladder, women’s overall growth into positions at or near the top of Fortune 500 companies has completely stalled out. Catalyst chief Ilene Lang asserts that “The ‘supply problem’ is a myth. But there are more qualified people than there are openings on boards, so it’s very competitive. You need a champion, someone who is already ‘in the club’ and will vouch for you.” The lack of progress is largely institutional. With men already dominating boardrooms, it’s hard to make the space for women without established networks and a concerted effort to do so.
I think these facts point to the need for us to examine corporate culture and perceptions of women in business. The boys’ club environment should not be assumed to be how business functions. I really don’t think business trips to the strip club make businessmen harder working. And I’m pretty sure that golfing makes nothing more efficient. Women are able and ready to jump in if there is space for them. We need women to fight for a larger role in corporate culture and we need support from proactive allies already at the top (even if this involves some sort of legislation or government program to support it). Let’s not keep letting the boys be boys and give the girls a chance.