Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

Summary: There are exciting changes afoot in major corporate seats: Women are sitting in them. It's a shift whose time has come but is it enough?


Testosterone being converted to Estrogen.

There's a new trend sweeping the world's most influential corporations: Women CEOs. With the appointment of Meg Whitman to HP's top position and Virginia Rometty at IBM's helm, there's a new sheriff in town boys and she's here to stay. Women make up a paltry 3% of the Fortune 500's top spots but that trend will change in the days to come. At this moment, there's a record number of women in CEO positions but the true number is still very low. 12% of Fortune 500 companies report no women occupy Board of Director seats. Change is slow but it's happening.

But what's responsible for this paradigm shift?

The Old Guard

Could it be that the Old Guard and Men-Only boardrooms are becoming outdated? Could a more progressive, a more educated and a more culturally diverse population be the cause? Yes, and yes. We're living in a time that has taught us to appreciate someone's accomplishments and skills regardless of gender. No, it isn't perfect but we're moving out the Old Guard and clearing those smoke-filled rooms one step at a time and making room for the intelligent, the creative and the accomplished--be they male or female.

The "Good Old Boy" circles still exist and will for some time. But, thank goodness for progress. I, myself, have been victimized by the Old Guard and Good Old Boy circles and am ready for change. No, I don't think a female-dominated corporate landscape will be the ultimate answer either. But, I do think that "fairer sex" may refer to something other than looks. It may refer to a broader sense of fair play, fair dealings and fair treatment of employees.

Crime and Corruption

I, for one, believe that female-dominated leadership will result in a less corporate corruption and shady undertakings. Why? You'd have to read my latest entry in the Zero Day area to find out all the details but I'll spoil it for you here. Women commit fewer crimes. A lot fewer.

In 2009, men accounted for 93% of the country's prison population.

You might believe that crime, especially white collar crime, is one of opportunity and having more women in power will result in more women committing those crimes. I seriously doubt it but only time will tell.

For example, do you think there could have been a Bernice Madoff? How about a Bernadette Ebbers? A Kathy Lay? Would Madam President Hillary Clinton have committed adultery in the White House? I say, "No" on all counts.

Criminal, immoral and corrupt behavior just doesn't run through women's minds like it does men's. I could be very naive on this point but the statistics just don't lie. Of course, I realize that women can commit crimes. I know they can lie. I'm aware that they can be as evil as any man. I have no blindness where those things are concerned but I do believe those women are in the minority and they typically do not rise to positions of power.

Current Fortune 500 Women CEOs:

  1. Gracia C. Martore of Gannett Co.
  2. Denise M. Morrison of Campbell Soup
  3. Deanna Mulligan of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
  4. Debra Reed of Sempra Energy
  5. Beth Mooney of KeyCorp
  6. Lynn Elsenhans of Sunoco
  7. Ursula Burns of Xerox
  8. Ellen Kullman of DuPont
  9. Laura Sen of BJ’s Wholesale Club
  10. Angela Braly of WellPoint
  11. Carol Meyrowitz of The TJX Companies
  12. Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo
  13. Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft Foods
  14. Patricia A. Woertz of Archer Daniels Midland Co.
  15. Andrea Jung of Avon Products
  16. Margaret “Meg” Whitman of Hewlett-Packard
  17. Virginia “Ginni” Rometty of IBM Corp
  18. Heather Bresch of Mylan Inc.

Bad Girls

Yes, there are women who people want to throw stones at for their dealings in the corporate world and perhaps deservedly so. Carly Fiorina (HP) and Carol Bartz (Yahoo!) are two of the ones that come to mind. In their defense, both women took over companies that were in trouble and were expected to work miracles. When they didn't, they were ousted like yesterday's news. Unfair? Maybe, but that's life in the corporate world. If women want equality in the boardroom, they will have to learn to take equality on every level.

Although to me, it's hard to judge accurately when women make up 50% of the human population but only 3% of the CEO population. The CEO seat is a hot one indeed. It's a launch pad. It's like being a college football coach. When your team wins, everyone loves you. When your team loses, you get fired.

Changing the Tides

It's not going to be easy but it's getting easier for women to climb the corporate ladder. More women in powerful positions means equal pay for women, fair treatment for everyone and perhaps a kinder, gentler corporate world in which we can all thrive. I hope so. I hope the women of the world, my daughter included, won't see men as the enemy and won't feel the need to overcompensate for past inequalities. Don't be angry. Don't hold grudges. No one expects perfection. No one wants you to be a man. We want you to be you: A successful CEO.

But, the tides take time to change. Just today in New Zealand, Alasdair Thompson, CEO of the Employers' and Manufacturers' Association, was fired because of comments he made regarding women in the workplace. He stated that women were paid less because they have to take care of children and they take more sick leave due to menstruation.

Instead of looking at the past, I want my daughter and other women to look at their new role models: Meg Whitman, Virginia Rometty, Lynn Elsenhans and other successful, influential women who are laying the stones upon which many women will tread. I want the women of this country (and of this world) to look to these women and say, "See? See, what's possible when you hire the right person for the job."

Related Stories:

IBM's CEO hand-off: Rometty to take over for Palmisano

HP's CEO carousel continues: Whitman officially in, Apotheker out

Carol Bartz at Yahoo: Set up to fail?

Woman advocates regret Fiorina's departure

Topic: CXO


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

    Here's hoping women do change the system and don't get sucked in like the Maggie Thatchers of this world.

    Business and governance without male hierarchies and ego would be a welcome change.
    • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

      <strong> /</strong>

      <h1><strong><a href="">Free Puzzle Games</a></strong></h1>
      <h1><strong><a href="">House Design</a></strong></h1>
  • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

    Please Google:

    IBM detained mother of ex-employee on the day of centennial
    How Much IBM Can Get Away with is the Responsibility of the Media
    Tragedy of Labor Rights Repression in IBM China
  • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

    I really wish that we can appreciate women achievers without having to refer to their gender. Why is that everytime there's a new female CEO or something like that big news is made out of it? Did it ever occur to reporters that they're also inadvertantly highlighting their low 3% share?

    Sure we should open doors for women, but they have to do the walking in themselves. Maybe there are few CEOs because a lot of them don't want to be involved in a highly aggressive and competitive career (women are social-oriented, unlike the competitor man, which is a virtue by itself). There are a few female CEOs in the technology sector, but maybe that's because the sector is unappealling to women. Maybe there more women CEOs in other fields.

    I believe that women have their strengths, like lesser tendency to crimes like the writer said. Yes, it would be good if we can harness these virtues in these positions. Should we encourage women to join the fileds, OK. but striving for a 50-50 occupation is just unreal. There's something more important than respecting rights - respecting choice.

    Having said this, I'm impressed by Meg Whitman's decision to keep HP's PC line. It felt like a very responsible decision.
    • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

      We will know that feminine equality has been achieved in the boardroom when we don't feel the need to bring it up.
      sissy sue
  • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

    I don't believe that women are innately less corruptable than men. Society as a whole has a bias when it comes to women and crime. Women are less likely to get a guilty charge, because juror have this bias. If they are found guilty they usually get a more lenient sentence. I will say this, women are less likely to corrupted by the seduction of power. Generally speaking, women seek power, just not to the extent that men do. That may be why this bias exists.
    • Agreed

      There were some people in 1920 who argued that women voting and holding public office would ennoble politics. How did that work out for us?
      sissy sue
  • Two words for the topic.

    Martha Stewart.
    • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

      She didn't do anything the "Good-Ole-Boy-Network" wasn't doing. The only thing she did wrong was do the stuff and be a woman. So the GOBN took her to task in order to make an example out of her. And look at her now, having the last laugh.
  • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

    Give it time, that whole world is based on greed ans corruption.
  • Crime and corruption

    How does the number of men in prison have any relation to corruption in corporations or corruptable women in corporations?
    • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

      It shows the relationship between criminal activity and gender. Corporate corruption is often illegal. Much of it is buried in the GOBN.
  • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

    When women are doing most of the work and soldiering and men are doing most of the crime and welfare then they may realize it is a bitter victory.
  • RE: Corporate power shifts to the New Feminocracy

    This is absurd! All the things men or women need to do to get to the CEO level or be successful in politics require them to be corrupt! It has nothing to do with gender it is all about big money and power, both genders are corrupted by both. A woman has to give up any of the more altruistic elements commonly seen as female in order to get there. At that level all our "leaders" are just soulless zombies.
  • most men are criminals realllllllllllly!!!!!!!

    Wow so according to the writer most men are corrupted and criminal minded.
    Well that hurt my male ego.
  • gimbtfc 49 qxh

    pkwrzk,vzwkwekq20, kxnvd.