Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation argues that, with the imminent retirement of the over 1,1000 F1000 directors over 70, demand is surging for a new generation of directors, one which better reflects the 21st-century marketplace.
Now nearly 100 years later, the dearth of women on America’s corporate boards is as striking as is the need for them. Women control nearly 75 percent of consumer purchasing decisions, yet there are still 29 Fortune 1000 consumer companies with no women on their boards, according to research by CTPartners, a global executive search firm. In a time of economic turmoil and political instability, male CEOs and directors repeatedly told CTPartners that having women in the boardroom leads to better-informed discussions and more thoughtful decision-making, sentiments backed up by a 2011 Catalyst studyshowing that major companies with three or more female directors outperformed companies with zero women on boards by 46 percent of return on equity – yet among the Fortune 1000, there are 144 boards that have no women directors, and women comprise fewer than 15 percent of all directors.
But there’s good news: More than 1,100 directors currently serving on F1000 boards are over 70 years old. With their retirement imminent, demand is surging for a new generation of directors, one which better reflects the 21st-century marketplace. How can qualified women ensure that they’re considered as candidates to fill those slots?
For female would-be entrepreneurs, these challenges make it difficult to pursue a potentially rewarding career path. In the United Kingdom, for example, 15% of businesses are led by women, yet women account for only 7% of entrepreneurs in science, engineering or technology fields.
“Women don't ask for opportunities and they undersell their abilities and expertise,” says Sharon Vosmek, chief executive of Astia, a non-profit organization in San Francisco, California, that supports women-led, high-growth companies in technology and the life sciences around the world. Often, she adds, women miss opportunities because they don't know how to take advantage of their scientific credentials.
When it comes to pitching business ideas, women are often less aggressive and more cautious than men — which can be interpreted as a lack of confidence, undermining the pitch. Women are also “more open to a discussion about the cons as well as the pros of a potential business — which can make an idea look less attractive to an investor”, says Joanna Horobin, president and chief executive of Syndax Pharmaceuticals in Waltham, Massachusetts.
LearnVest, a personal finance website tailored to women, published the results of a survey it commissioned of over 600 women, conducted by business consultancy Maddock Douglas. The results showed that the majority of participants are uncertain about what financial steps they should be taking, and that many of them lacked confidence in their ability to make key financial decisions.
Ninety percent of women surveyed, ages 21 to 59, weren't sure how much to save for retirement, what types of retirement accounts to open, how much money to invest, and what types of investment accounts to open. Eighty-four percent were not very comfortable in their ability to set specific financial to-dos.
To explain these fairly distressing numbers, HuffPost Women spoke with LearnVest CEO Alexa von Tobel.
Despite the preeminent role women play in healthcare, a recent study by RockHealth uncovered some stunning statistics about the paucity of women running startups (at least that are getting funded). Consider that while women compose 73% of medical and health services managers, only 4% of healthcare CEOs were women. In the 2011 Venture Funded Digital Health database that RockHealth created, they looked at organizations who received over $2M in venture funding — none had a female CEO. The report also outlines other interesting statistics such as the percentage of TEDMED speakers who were female.
There was a time when investment clubs were all the rage. Financially minded people -- amateurs and pros -- would gather over wine and snacks, book-club style, to research stocks and discuss which companies looked like the best investments.
The recession was the death knell for one such club, co-founded by Ann Gibbons, of Chicago, in 1996 along with a fellow certified public accountant she met while working at a Chicago accounting firm, then-Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young). She served as the Upside Downside Investment Club's treasurer and monthly hostess until 2008, when the 10-person group decided to separate over economic strains.
Many of the original members who stayed in the group the entire time broke even, Gibbons said, whereas those who left right before the market went south lost money.
"Up until that time, we had been growing, growing, growing," Gibbons, 68, said. "But in 2008, the stocks were really falling, and some people had their own businesses, and they weren't feeling very flush. People needed the money. It was a tough time, so it kind of took the fun out of (the club)."
Gibbons said the members, which included attorneys, architects and health care professionals, would meet once a month at her house, eat pizza, drink a glass of wine and present their latest research on companies such as Apple, Starbucks, T.J. Maxx and Netflix. Each member would contribute $100 per month, and each investment decision would be collaborative.
Although women have made much progress in reaching the leadership levels of business, such progress is disappointing and stalled. Why is this such a stubborn issue? Why aren’t more women making it to (and staying at) the top?
For millions of aging Americans, it starts by examining the 401(k) statement. Their retirement savings plan has gone nowhere for more than a decade. Their mood darkens when they think about their debts (too many) and their savings (too little). The harsh recession has taken a toll on households headed by people aged 55 to 64, who have seen their wealth—net equity in homes and financial assets combined—fall 13.7 percent, to an average $222,300, since the recession hit. “We’re in a mess when it comes to retirement,” says Steven Sass, program director of the Financial Security Project at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
Though women experience extra-long lives and, therefore, face a number of unique risks in retirement — including aging single, lower annual retirement incomes, greater health care costs, and caregiving responsibilities — women have not planned adequately, leading to a significant gap between their retirement income security needs and their response to them. In conjunction with the study we have produced a "Woman on the Street" video where women express their opinions on retirement preparation.