Even in Businesswoman-Friendly Towns, Most Companies Have No Women in Leadership

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business


A recent study of nearly 800,000 executive positions nationwide revealed that only 27 percent of firms in the U.S. have women in top leadership positions. And even in the cities ranked tops for women in business, well over half of companies have no women in leadership.

The research, carried out by Infogroup Targeting Solutions of Omaha, Neb., found that, while high-tech cities overall have the most companies with women in leadership, a few small East Coast cities rank among the top places for business women.

Dover, Del., home to the University of Delaware, topped the rankings: nearly 45 percent of companies there employ at least one woman in an executive position. Chapel Hill, NC; Bethesda, Md.; Washington, DC; and New Haven, Conn., also rank in the top 6 for percentage of companies that employ women in the C-suite.

But the second ranked city, Palo Alto, Calif., home of Hewlett-Packard, TIBCO, Tesla, and more than 100 other high-tech firms, was one of 6 Silicon Valley cities that scored among the top 50 places in the U.S. for female execs. In Facebook’s hometown of Menlo Park, Calif., which ranks seventh, 41 percent of companies have at least one female in leadership. 

Infogroup notes that, while companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple have reported this year that about three-quarters of their leadership positions are filled by men, records in Infogroup’s database of 21 million businesses, Data Axle, show that many of the cities with the highest percentage of firms with female executives are concentrated in the high-tech region in California. (Mountain View and Cupertino, home to Google and Apple, however, did not make the top 50.) 

The study looked at businesses in 12,000 U.S. cities, and the top-50 list includes only cities with at least 100 businesses meeting the criteria. 

Infogroup ranks these cities as the top 10 places in the U.S. for female executives:

1.      Dover, Del. – 44.8 percent

2.      Palo Alto, Ca. – 42.3 percent

3.      Chapel Hill, N.C. – 41.5 percent

4.      Washington, D.C. – 41.1 percent

5.      Bethesda, Md. – 41 percent

6.      New Haven, Conn. – 41 percent

7.      Menlo Park, Calif. – 40.9 percent

8.      Frankfort, Ky. – 40.6 percent

9.      Williamsburg, Va. – 40.5 percent

10.    Emeryville, Ca. – 40.4 percent 

Infogroup Targeting Solutions president David McRae put a positive spin on the dismal data: “While less than a dozen tech companies have released their own data on hiring and the gender gap, we analyzed nearly half a million businesses nationwide,” he said. “While the gender gap certainly needs to be closed at major tech companies, the deeper data reveals another side to the story in the Silicon Valley.”


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