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Looking Through the Glass Ceiling
By Lisa Dowling

Women at the Top," a series of surveys conducted by Financial Women International, has produced some profound data that clearly reflects the disproportionately small number of women who hold top executive positions in the financial services industry. The series collected data from annual reports, interviews and Thomson's Global Banking Resource. It showed:

    Of the 100 largest U.S. commercial banks:
  • Women comprise 16% of executive management, up 3% from the July 1999 study.
  • Only eight of these banks have female CFOs.
  • Only two have female CEOs, an improvement from July 1999, when there were zero.

    Of the 100 largest U.S. credit unions:
  • Women comprise 35% of executive management.
  • Twenty-one have female CFOs.
  • None has a female CEO.

    Of the 100 smallest U.S. community banks:
  • Women comprise 29% of executive management.
  • Nine have female CEOs or presidents

    Of the 100 largest U.S. community banks:
  • Women comprise 16% of executive management.
  • Three have female CFOs.
  • None has a female CEO.

When one considers that 75% of the 1.4 million people employed in commercial banking in America are women and that 83% of the 203,000 people employed in credit unions are women (Bureau of Labor Statistics figures), the data is extraordinary. Does it reflect the unbalanced ratio of women to men in management in most industries and not just financial services? Probably. And while changes are being seen, it is a slow and often challenging process for women to achieve what they are worth.

Perhaps part of the challenge lies in recognizing one's own self worth, the value you bring to the table and effectively demonstrating that value. Strategically positioning yourself and anticipating the obstacles you'll face once you're in that position are skills that are invaluable to grabbing that executive washroom key.

To view the full versions of "Women at the Top," visit the News page at

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