Great News: Number Of Female Counsels At Fortune 500 Companies Doubled In 10 Years
6:15 pm, August 13th | by Amy Tennery
At last count, there were just 18 female CEOs on the Fortune 500 roster. This is not an encouraging number.
Luckily, though, the rest of the executive ranks at top U.S. companies is looking a little more gender-diverse.
In fact, new numbers show that more women than ever are leading the legal teams in the Fortune 500. In 2008, 92 women served as general counsel at top U.S. companies, more than double the number in 1999, when just 44 women nabbed the top corporate law spots, according to a new report from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (which we found over at Business Insider). No, this isn’t exactly parity, but it’s a start.
Why female lawyers are gaining ground this rapidly, however, something of a mystery. Why are women nabbing the general counsel spots as female execs struggle to break into the corner office?
While it would be easy to assume sheer volume could account for this (gotta be way more lady lawyers than lady MBAs, right?) the numbers show it’s unlikely that’s the only reason. Yes, women account for a greater percentage of J.D. students than MBA students — roughly 47 percent and 37 percent, respectively, according to 2010 Catalyst data. But is that enough to explain the gap in representation? It seems unlikely.
For what it’s worth, MCCA president and CEO Joseph West offered this (somewhat vague) explanation:
“We see this trend continuing as more companies recognize the outstanding legal and leadership skills of these professional women.”