“50 Women to Watch”…and more

In recent years, the Wall Street Journal has taken to profiling the top 50 Women to Watch at major corporations and nonprofits. Their list for 2006 was published on November 20 and I’d commend it to you because it is a good insight into today’s busienss world. Click here for the full list.

The article notes, “PepsiCo Inc. recently tapped former president and chief financial officer Indra Nooyi as its new CEO. Earlier this year, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., the grain-processing giant and largest U.S. producer of corn-derived ethanol fuel, recruited former Chevron Corp. executive Patricia Woertz as the first outsider to hold the company’s top job.” (Click on the bolding above to read the women’s corporate bios).

The Journal pointed out that there has not been a lot of progress in the number of women in senior management at large companies. Women held 16.4 percent of Fortune 500 corporate-officer jobs in 2005, an increase of just 0.7 percent from 2002 according to a survey by a New York research group. But the story does go on to say that “something new is beginning to occur….women are making their marke across a broad spectrum of businesses…from heavy manufacturing, chemicals and computer technology to consumer products, fashion and media.”

Now the reporter is on to something here. She has hit on the fact that women are increasingly managing today’s manufacturing. Of the 50 companies and nonprofits profiled in the 2006 ranking, at least 18 of them are in manufacturing. They are women like Ellen Kullman, EVP at DuPont who now heads two of that company’s most important divisions, responsible for 63 percent of DuPont operating income. And Ursula Burns, president of Business Group Operations at Xerox (and an NAM board member as well).

As impressive as this list is, there is an equally impressive story going on in manufacturing when you get below the Fortune 500 companies. That story is that women are increasingly running smaller and medium sized manufacturing firms than ever before. The number of women-owned firms in manufacturing has doubled in the past decade. The Center for Women’s Business Research estimates that 16 percent of all manufacturing employees now work in women-owned firms. Read all about it in our Facts About Modern Manufacturing (click here).

For a really cool interview with the woman who is president of ACE Clearwater Enterprises (manufacturer of aerospace components in Torrance, CA), click here and watch the short video.