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The Journal Gazette

March 31, 2016 2:58 PM

Report shows gulf in gender leadership

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

The gender leadership gap continues.

U.S. state legislators are 75 percent men and just 25 percent women, including 5 percent women of color.

White men represent 63 percent of executives and white women 24 percent. Another 2 percent are black women, 1 percent Hispanic women, 1 percent Asian-American women and more than 1 percent women of other racial and ethnic groups.

Just 5 percent of companies in the Standard and Poor's 500 index had female chief executive officers in 2015.

Those statistics are part of a research report, "Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership," released Wednesday by the American Association of University Women, which has 170,000 members and supporters, 1,000 branches and 800 college and university partners.

The Barriers and Bias report said women are much less likely than men to be in leadership positions in most every area -- universities, businesses, courts, unions and religious institutions. But the report said there is no lack of qualified women to fill leadership roles.

"Women earn the majority of university degrees at every level except for professional degrees, and more women are in the workforce today than ever before," the report said. "There must be something inherent in the system that's working against them."

Blatant sex discrimination is still a problem, based on data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the report said. But more subtle problems exist also, including hostile work environments and negative stereotypes about women in leadership.

"Unconcious or implicit bias can cloud judgment in ways people are not fully aware of," the report said.

But the report provides some solutions.

Individuals can learn about their subconscious biases by taking AAUW's brief Implicit Association Test on gender and leadership at www.aauw.org

Employers can promote flexibility and fair expectations for men and women, and enforce fair policies through tools such as diversity training and blind screening of resumes.

Policymakers can support current legislation and regulations such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act and salary transparency.