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Women Still Lag Behind Men in Top Boardroom Jobs


A new report on the world's leading companies shows barriers still remain for women who want to advance in the corporate world. The study released at the Global Summit of Women in Germany shows women lag well behind men when it comes to the top jobs in the world's biggest companies. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.

The economic conference for women drew more than 1,000 people from 95 countries to Berlin. Conference organizers say the record turnout reflects the growing impact of women in the global economy.

Summit president Irene Natividad says the event also highlights how far women still have to go. "When you figure out that women are 50 percent of the paid workforce now. When you realize that there are a lot more women in middle management roles -- but at the top, it's still, the air is very thin."

Natividad chairs a non-profit group that seeks to place qualified women into corporate boardrooms. She says women occupy just 11.2 percent of the top jobs in the world's largest companies.

"In my home country, the U.S. -- only nine women CEOs in the 500 largest companies. And then when you come to a place like Germany, it's zero. So we clearly need to have much more progress than we already have."

Event organizers say women around the world typically earn between 30 to 60 percent of what men earn for the same job, even when they have the same qualifications. They say it is often worse in developing countries.

Mary Nagu is Tanzania's justice minister. She says the exchange is fruitful. "We are meeting many women and I do believe that we have a lot to learn from each other."

For others, the women's conference was an empowering experience. Ruth de Golia is co-founder of Mercado Global, "It's a great networking opportunity. I represent women in Guatemala who have very little education, very little access to markets, except through us. And here, these are women who have built very successful businesses and there's so many different ways we can be partnering, so it's an honor to be here."

Although the latest findings suggest women still have some catching up to do, there has been progress. Findings show more than three quarters of the top 200 companies in the world have at least one woman director on the board -- a four percent increase since 2004.