Do Women Face a “Concrete Ceiling?”

RBA meeting focuses on advancing executive ambition of women


Former Mercy College President, Dr. Lucie Lapovsky.

Rockland Business Association Women’s Forum met last week in Nanuet to discuss “Cracking the Concrete Ceiling.” Former Mercy College President Dr. Lucie Lapovsky’s presentation displayed gaps between genders in Fortune 500 companies and in salaries.

The leadership roles within Fortune 500 companies have remained predominately male, said Lapovsky. In 2002 women held 14 percent of Fortune 500 board seats compared to 15 percent in 2010. Women as Fortune 500 corporate officers had no progress at all, staying at 16 percent from 2002 to 2008.

Fortune 500 female CEOs however reached an all time high of 18 percent, which looks pretty strong compared to 1995 when there were exactly zero. “Women are leading major companies and they are doing it very confidently,” said Lapovsky.

Women are breaking records in politics as well. The Senate now has 20 female Senators out of 100 seats compared to 17 in 2009. It’s the largest number of female Senators in US history.

There is also a new high of women in the House of Representatives now standing at 78 compared to 73 back in 2009.

Lapovsky shared non-profit organization The White House Project’s study on women in politics, which says many women felt they needed to be asked to run for office.  “Men are more likely to run and want to run where as women need to be given permission and encouraged,” said Lapovsky.

New York State Assemblywomen Ellen Jaffee attended the event, sharing that she was asked to run for office in 1994 as Village of Suffern trustee. “I never thought I would win. I just thought it would be an interesting life experience,” said Jaffee.

Lapovsky contends that there still is a large gap between men and women in salary. She cited 2010 Census Bureau information which indicates women who work full-time earned 77 percent of what men earned.

In order to improve on women’s conditions in the workforce Lapovsky suggested the audience of mostly women to empower one another, offer advice, and become a sponsor.

The concept of becoming a sponsor includes advocating for the sponsoree’s next promotion, using acquired connections to open up new opportunities for the sponsoree, offering advice on appearance, and overall encouragement.

St. Thomas Aquinas College’s, Director of Development Judith Perrin said she was inspired by Dr. Lapovsky’s presentation. Perrin’s suggestions on how women could empower each other include having an “open attitude to want to help other women be the best they can be, mentoring them, and supporting them in ways so that they can grow.”

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