Cracking the glass ceiling?

Survey says: female CIOs make inroads

After all the news about a scarcity of women in the top management of companies (and in the ranks of engineers), here’s a bright spot: Half of the CIOs of Fortune 10 companies are women, according to a new survey by Boardroom Insider.

Yep, the top tech guru at Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil, Ford, GE and ValeroEnergy is female. Another less impressive finding: 17.4 percent of all Fortune 500 companies have female CIOs.

CIO Journal (paywall) picked up the story and also pointed out that five of the top 15 tech companies in Silicon Valley (ranked by 2014 sales) also have female CIOs. They are [company]Intel[/company], [company]Cisco[/company], [company]Gilead Sciences[/company], [company]NetApp[/company], and [company]Symantec[/company].

It’s unclear if Boardroom Insider compiled the same numbers last year, but I’ve reached out to them and will update this as required. But even these numbers in isolation are interesting. For one thing, IT has been historically a male-dominated environment and if the top IT person at some of the biggest companies in the world is a woman, that might encourage other companies to open up their executive searches to a more diverse set of candidates.

Now, if you want to look at the tippy-top execs at companies, 4.7 percent of the CEOs at S&P 500 companies are women, according to new numbers compiled by Catalyst, an advocacy group working to expand business opportunities for women.

Of those 23 CEOs, a handful are in tech: Safra Catz of [company]Oracle[/company] (who shares the title with Mark Hurd); Ursula Burns of [company]Xerox[/company]; Meg Whitman of [company]HP[/company]; Ginni Rometty of [company]IBM[/company]; Marissa Mayer of [company]Yahoo[/company] and Maggie Wilderotter of [company]Frontier Communications[/company].

For a broader look at stats of overall diversity in tech companies,  check out Gigaom’s roundup from August. Here’s a sneak peek: