Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wanted: More Women Above the Glass Ceiling

There are more women running FORTUNE 500 companies this year than there were last year. Currently, 10 FORTUNE 500 companies are run by women* (up from 9 last year), and a total of 20 FORTUNE 1000 companies have women in the top job (up from 19).

(Source: CNNMoney.com)

Gee. Wow! I bet women of the world are all tempted to drag out some vintage bottles of champagne and celebrate. 2% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women, up from a whopping 1.8% the year before. What year was this? 1900? 1935? Maybe 1975? Nope, the year was 2006. That’s pretty pathetic, huh? But it’s even more pathetic when one forgets all the obvious reasons this is infuriating (old boy networks, rampant sexism in the corporate world, equal opportunity employment being a sham, etc.) and concentrates instead on the more practical reasons we need to change this statistic and need to change it now (before I’m too old to appreciate it). I mean, certain sorts of companies just beg to have women in charge, and yet, year after year, it’s the men who make it to the top.

Let me provide you with a few examples:

Advertising Agencies

Sick and tired of women’s bodies being used to sell everything from beer to life insurance? Or maybe you’re disgusted by the fact that the majority of models and actors chosen to sell food and cooking items or household cleaners are females (usually females portrayed in far more unflattering lights than those selling beer). Let’s get some women at the top of those advertising agencies and get men in the laundry room complaining about “ring around the collar.”

Computer Companies

The notion of “speed” at a female-run computer company would incorporate more than just making programs that can run three nanoseconds faster than its earlier version, which is a whole two nanoseconds faster than the other guys’ program. “Speed” would take into account ease-of-use. At a female-run computer company, thought might be given to the fact that a nanosecond saved sending one gag joke across the world via this computer rather than via that one, is going to be lost, if it takes thirty minutes to figure out such counter-intuitive things as a “shut down” button secretly hidden behind a “start” button or that if one accidentally hits a couple of wrong keys (keys that are typically placed right in the spot where a person’s fingers are most likely to be), he or she can end up with hours’ worth of work trying to undo the mysterious red line that now streaks through the center of his or her document. A computer company run by a female CEO would make sure its computers could easily transfer old material from one computer to a new one and that the old computer (no matter how old) could then be recycled, so that basements around the world would no longer be caves for hardware dinosaurs and their fossils.

Frozen Food Companies

Let’s face it: women need and want the convenience of frozen foods. However, with men running the industry, they’re not getting the kinds of frozen foods they want, which for the majority of the women I know would mean nutritious, well-balanced meals, free of such things as trans-fats, MSG, and more salt than the Atlantic Ocean. My guess is that a woman CEO would not allow the dumping of such things into her frozen foods. She’d, herself, want to eat healthy food, and she’d want those foods to be tasty. No more fish sticks that taste like cardboard. I mean, when I freeze leftovers, they taste the way they did when I made the food, not like the containers in which I froze them. I bet frozen food companies could figure out how to do that, too, if women ran the show.

Publishing Companies

Apparently, according to articles I’ve read on the topic, more women read and buy books than men do, especially fiction. Yet, the majority of the CEOs in the publishing industry are men. That makes about as much sense as employing mostly female coaches for professional football teams, when the majority of those who watch and play football are male. The men, at this point, seem to be running the publishing industry into the ground. All reports coming from the industry seem to be nothing but doom and gloom. Why don’t we try putting more women at the top and seeing what they can do about that?

Vacuum Cleaner Companies

Really, no woman in her right mind would allow the release of any vacuum cleaner that isn’t as light as a beach ball, cordless with a charge that lasts two weeks, and that doesn’t have the suction capacity of a black hole. A vacuum cleaner designed by women engineers and approved by a female CEO would know the difference between a carpet and a shoelace that happens to get in its way, and would ignore the shoelace. The XX-chromosome vacuum would not have 10 useless attachments that do nothing but fall off the base of the machine when it goes over the slightest bump in the floor. All attachments would be the correct size to maximize surface area on real-live living room and kitchen floors and furniture rather than the floors and furniture of Barbie’s’ Beachside Condo, and they would bend and flex in amazing ways to get into every single nook and cranny. Oh yes, and I almost forgot. This vacuum cleaner would be silent.

You know, the more I think about it, the more this list could go on endlessly, so I guess I’ll just stop here. Feel free to pick up where I’ve left off, though, and imagine a world in which women ran the automobile industry, the cell phone industry, the furniture industry, etc. Companies at least ought to have plenty of female consultants. I mean, what makes those who’ve been complaining for centuries that they “just can’t figure out what women want” think they can possibly provide the goods women want without some female leadership? I imagine their jobs would be much simpler if they didn’t have to do quite so much guessing.

Cross-posted here.


Anonymous said...

The 'here' hyperlink above links to the admin side of the article. The link you want is:
that one

Emily Barton said...

Thanks, Mandarine. It's fixed now.

Anonymous said...

Brava! I have one to add...strollers. If women designed them instead of men, they would have a much larger shopping basket, a built-in drink holder, a brake that doesn't require stomping, lifting and latching simultaneously and some kind of built-in shield that pops out and around the child at the slightest hint of inclement weather or blazing sun.

IM said...

The vacuum cleaner point is good but I wonder, with all these males soon to be out of a job do vacuum cleaners really need to be lighter? We'll be doing all the housework and will need the exercise ;).

Emily Barton said...

NS, oh yes, strollers, and cribs and car seats, while we're at it.

IM, good point. Then again, maybe, in their old age, men will appreciate the light-weight vacuums.

Susan said...

hahaha, thank you for making me laugh again! I'm not the only one wondering if the world has gone insane lauding the improvements in women's work life - hah! Only 2% run the richest companies! No, women are all at the bottom running their own business, sick of hitting the glass ceiling in their jobs and taking orders from men.
and if women were CEO's...there would be weeks of sick time given every year for mothers and fathers to use with their children up to at least age 10!!! One week is ridiculous, one fever and that's three days gone! Say, 5 weeks of sick time, that could carry over, so that when your child comes down with chicken pox and the endless flu, you don't run out of family time halfway through the first week of chicken pox!!!
Oh...and we'd end those stupid light day pads commercials on tv. who needs wings in their underwear??? we'd invent environmentally friendly pads/hygenic things quickly enough too.
And will someone please tell the fashion industry that plus-size women like to wear fun things too, not just muumuus and polka dots (gaah! and huge flowered things too!), and could we have stylish, pretty women's shoes that are size 8, 9, 10, and even 11 in extra wide????? Cinderella comes in all shapes and sizes!!!

thanks, as ever, Emily :-) for writing interesting, funny posts!!

Emily Barton said...

Susan, you're welcome. Always glad to make you laugh, and you're so right about family leave, "feminine hygiene products," and plus-size fashion1

Anonymous said...

The Harvard Business Review just published an article about why women leave science and tech jobs here. It is depressing but so true.

Emily Barton said...

Stef, you're right: very depressing. This is agist, I know, but I do have hope that things are going to begin to change once all the men born pre-1960 retire.