2011 UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders
A Census of Women Directors and Highest-Paid Executives

Update: In an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 20, 2012, after Yahoo hired Marissa Mayer as CEO, Dean Steven Currall writes that male executives in the retro TV drama “Mad Men” would still feel right at home in modern-day Silicon Valley, where more than a third of the companies have no women among top executives and board directors.

See “Tech Sector’s Glass Ceiling”

California’s Glass Ceiling May Take a Century to Crack

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management in partnership with Watermark publishes the annual “UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers.”

Our seventh annual study details the presence of women at the very top of the 400 largest publicly held corporations headquartered in the state. Our findings paint a disappointing picture of female representation on the boards and in the executive suites of these high-profile companies, which together represent nearly $3 trillion in shareholder value.

Women still hold fewer than one in 10 of the highest-paid executive positions and board seats at the top public firms in California — a rate that has improved by just 0.2 percent annually.

The proportion of women who lead California’s largest companies is growing at such a slow pace that it will take more than a century for women business leaders to achieve parity with men.”

Key Findings of 2011 Study

  • Overall, women held 9.7 percent of board seats and highest-paid executive positions — similar to last year’s findings.
  • More than one-third, or 136 (34 percent), of the 400 companies had no women among their board directors or highest-paid executives.
  • Women accounted for 9.2 percent of the 1,925 highest-paid executives reported by the 400 companies.
  • Women held 10 percent of the 3,224 board seats in the 400 companies.
  • No company had an all-female board or executive management team.
  • No company had both a gender-balanced board and executive management team.
  • More than 40 percent of the 136 companies that tied for last place, with no women executives or board members, are high-tech companies.
  • Only 13 public companies had a woman CEO, down from 16 in 2010.
  • The number of women CFOs increased from 35 last year to 45 this year — a 28.6 percent increase.


Media Advisories and Releases

Major Press Coverage and Blog Posts about 2011 Census

UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: Census Archives

Partnering with Watermark and InterOrganization Network

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management’s partners on the annual census with Watermark, a non-profit community of executive women. Watermark is a member of ION, the InterOrganization Network. Formed in 2004, ION advocates for the advancement of women to positions of power in the business world, especially to boards of directors and executive suites. Today, ION has 14 regional members nationwide, representing more than 10,000 women in business across a wide range of industries.

Resources and Related Links

  • Watermark - In an effort to turn these numbers around, and thereby help companies improve their profit margins, Watermark created the Watermark Institute Board Access™ program. The program is designed to assist women in advancing their presence in business management, C-level offices and on boards. Candidates complete the program in three phases: assessment and coaching, board simulation and additional readiness resources, and critical connections, which all provide the candidate with the tools required to secure business leadership positions.
  • Professional BusinessWomen of California – A non-profit organization designed to meet the leadership, skill and networking needs of California women throughout their careers and across industries.
  • State of California Commission on the Status of Women – Established in 1965, the only state agency specifically dedicated to protecting the interests of California women. The commission works to ensure that women have equal rights and opportunity and that enacted legislation does not discriminate against women or otherwise undermine their status or their opportunities.
  • Catalyst – A national research and advisory organization working with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work. The UC Davis Graduate School of Management is one of only 10 universities/global business schools that are members of Catalyst.
  • Women Matter – “Achieving the promise of women executives” Since 2007, McKinsey’s Women Matter research has explored the role women play in the global workplace, their experiences and impact in senior-executive roles, and the performance benefits that companies gain from gender diversity. In this video, McKinsey partners Joanna Barsh, Sandrine Devillard, Emily Lawson, and Jin Wang recount the progress women have made in reaching the executive suite.