The business world has long been a male dominated industry. It wasn’t until 1972 that Katharine Graham became the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, that being The Washington Post Company. Thankfully, however, that trend is on a decline. Since 1985 there has been a rapid increase in female owned businesses, now comprising 8.6 million woman owned companies. Women now hold 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions. While still a paltry number, it is a vast improvement to the 0.2 percent of Katharine Graham’s days.
These women deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Running a business is a difficult task for anyone, but succeeding in an environment that still oppresses women is quite the feat. Yet even though women earn on average 23 cents less than a man in the same position or are continually passed over for a promotion, these women still succeed.
Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo
Marissa Mayer started her Yahoo career in 2012 after a successful leadership role at Google. She has been named one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business consecutively for the last seven years. In 2013, after returning from her own maternity leave, she adjusted Yahoo’s maternity leave policy to lengthen leave time and provide a cash bonus to the family, both of which are in line with other Silicon Valley companies.
Julie Hartz, President & Co-founder, Eventbrite
Started in 2006, Julie Hartz left the TV executive world to start Eventbrite with her husband, Kevin. Started as an alternative to ticketing giant Ticketmaster, Eventbrite handles events of all sizes. Their focus includes non-profit events, large venue performances, corporate seminars, or even living room concerts.
Arriana Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post
in 2005, Arriana Huffington started her namesake website, The Huffington Post. It was designed to be a liberal news source outlet, created as an alternative to many other news aggregator sites. In 2011, AOL purchased The Huffington Post and made Huffington editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group.
Stormy Simon, Co-President & Board Member, Overstock
Overstock.com was launched in 1999 to liquidate the inventories of failed dot-com companies and sell returned and surplus goods from wholesale providers, though they now sell new goods as well. Stormy Simon completely restructured their customer service department ranking them among the top companies for several years running.
Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors
Mary Barra made history when she became the first female CEO of an automotive company on January 15, 2014. Following her father’s footsteps at Pontiac, Barra began working for GM when she was only 18 years old. After 28 years, she was named Vice President of Global Manufacturing Engineering which began her career as a leader at GM. She has been named one of Forbes’ Most Powerful Women for the past three years.
Men may still dominate the business world, but today’s woman is not letting that get in her way. The idea of looming in the shadows are long gone, instead replaced with women stepping up and succeeding in their own right. Because of the success of these women, many companies are even opening up to the idea of hiring leading women within their companies.