The glass ceiling – smashed or not?

By Candice Krieger
September 30, 2009

Over the weekend, the Financial Times published its list of the top 50 women in business. Ones that jump out: Ofra Strauss, the chair of Israel’s Strauss Group. The survey places her 12th on the list, acknowledging that since 1996, she has strengthened the company through buying a number of brands and expanding abroad while simultaneously integrating Elite. In fourth is the woman of the moment - Jewish businesswoman Irene Rosenfeld, the CEO of US-based Kraft Foods, who recently made a daring $10.2bn bid for Cadbury. A veteran of the food industry, she has led the expansion of Kraft into emerging markets such as Argentina, Brazil and China. Top of the tree is Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo.


While all the women's achievements should be celebrated, there is no denying that there is still some way to go in the gender battle of the boardroom. Only 3 per cent of Fortune 500 chief executives are women. Across Europe, only 10 per cent of board directors of the largest companies are female and the numbers are even lower in Asia. Women’s remuneration remains significantly less than men’s. According to the 2009 Guardian executive pay survey, the highest-paid female director of a FTSE 100 company took home barely a tenth of the pay of the highest-paid man. What’s more: only 1 in 15 boardroom seats in the blue chip index are occupied by women, who mostly hold part-time roles as non-executive directors.


So there may be cracks in the glass ceiling but it is still hindering women in their fight.  


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