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Women at the Top


It’s harder for women to become CIOs than it is for them to achieve any other executive role, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis. A recent study by the university’s Graduate School of Management found only four female CIOs at the 200 largest public companies headquartered in California.

Although there are few women in C-level jobs at any of the 200 companies, 32 percent have female executive officers and 66 percent have women as directors.

The women who hold the top IT jobs at the companies surveyed are Mahvash Yazdi, CIO of Edison International; Jennifer Bolt, EVP of Operations and Technology; Maria Fitzpatrick, VP and CIO of Mercury General; and Dawn Martin, executive VP and CIO of Westcorp and WFS Financial.

The percentage of women who are CIOs is similar elsewhere in the United States, says Kim Elsbach, professor of management and coauthor of the study. For example, she says a study by InterOrganization Network counted only two women out of 100 CIOs in Massachusetts.

June Drewry, CIO with the insurance company Chubb, says there’s more to the problem than discrimination—including career decisions women make and how well-known they are to upper management. One part of the solution, she says, is for companies to take steps to cultivate more women as leaders through leadership development and mentoring programs.

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