The Wall Street Journal’s 50 Women to Watch in 2008

The Wall Street Journal published their list of 50 women executives to watch in 2008, along with some stats on women in corporate-officer jobs.

“In her concession speech in June, Hillary Clinton lamented that she wasn’t able to “shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling,” but she said it now has “about 18 million cracks in it.”

Indeed, women played a defining role in this year’s historic election, whether as candidates, spouses or comedians.

But in the corporate world, the notion of “18 million cracks” remains something of a pipe dream. While women have made great strides professionally in the past two decades, their numbers in the upper echelons of corporate America have stagnated in the past few years.

On Wall Street — possibly the toughest ceiling to crack — two of the most high-profile women made an exit in the past year: Citigroup’s Sallie Krawcheck and Morgan Stanley’s Zoe Cruz.

But out of the ashes of the economic meltdown, some new stars have emerged — most notably Sheila Bair, No. 1 on this year’s Women to Watch list, who has been thrust into the spotlight in her bank-rescue role as a hard-charging regulator at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Barbara Desoer, No. 3 on this year’s list, has risen to a pivotal role at Bank of America as president of mortgage, home equity and insurance services.

Beyond the financial world, faces new to the corner office include Ellen Kullman, who is taking the CEO reins of DuPont after spending two decades climbing the ranks of the chemicals maker. Oil-industry veteran Lynn Laverty Elsenhans has been plucked to lead Philadelphia refiner Sunoco. Padmasree Warrior, meanwhile, jumped from Motorola to take a key executive post at Cisco Systems.

According to a survey by Catalyst, a New York research group, women hold 15.4% of Fortune 500 corporate-officer jobs — positions of vice president or higher that require board approval. That number has inched down from 16.4% in 2005. Women running Fortune 500 companies amount to just 2.4%, the survey showed, and 74 of those companies have no female corporate officers at all.

One bright spot: More women are in charge of powerful board committees, such as nominating and governance committee chairs. That in turn could mean more women being appointed to key positions down the road.”

avery@aveconsulting.com' About Avery Horzewski

Principal of AVE Consulting, Avery is a marketing and customer communications consultant, and serves on WIC's board of directors as president. As a consultant, she works with companies of all sizes to develop compelling, persuasive, and effective customer-centric marketing and communication strategies that encompass everything from websites to social media to print collateral. Avery assumed the role of WIC president in January 2010, after overseeing the organization’s marketing, PR, social media, and website initiatives for three years.

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