Women are gradually becoming more influential as business leaders, but still have a long way to go.

Women are gradually becoming more influential as business leaders: In 2014, Fortune’s list of most powerful women in business featured “an all-time record of 24 large-company CEOs,” including IBM’s Ginni Rometty, General Motors’ Mary Barra and PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi. But there’s clearly still a long way to go, and entrenched gender inequality within certain key industries will mean a dearth of future potential leaders. Last year the spotlight fell on Silicon Valley’s male-centric culture after Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou wrote a Medium post on the scarcity of women in tech. She called on tech firms to disclose their gender ratio, and many did so—pointing to a glaring imbalance. Fewer than a quarter of Microsoft employees are women, for instance, and Intel has about the same ratio.


The disclosures started a conversation on the issue, and we’re seeing some concrete actions. This week at CES, Intel chief Brian Krzanich (above) announced a $300 million investment to achieve more diversity at Intel and within the tech industry more broadly. Intel’s goal is “full representation of women and under-represented minorities” at the company by 2020. “Without a workforce that more closely mirrors the population, we are missing opportunities, including not understanding and designing for our own customers,” Krzanich says in a release.

A similar drive to engineer change is taking place in the marketing realm: The 3% Conference was launched in 2012 to address the lack of women in creative director roles—at the time just 3% in the U.S., per the title, but now up to 11%. (JWT co-sponsored the 2014 conference and launched a scholarship for talented female creative advertising students.) Forward-thinking institutions and businesses are belatedly realizing the potential in female power.

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