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As the baby boomer generation begins to retire, women necessarily will play a crucial role in filling the open spaces. Our latest Women to Watch honoree, Wanda Chambers (see article, page 6), stated that “innovation is born from necessity,” and so goes the case for the promotion of female executives. Because the boomers are such a large generation that will be retiring, female executives must comprise a larger part of the management mix. Gen X as a whole coming up behind the baby boomers is so small relatively speaking, it is a good thing that many of the boomers are pushing retirement back until 67 years of age, up from 63 just a decade ago according to Gallup. However, the shifting demographics and attitudes will also make it easier for junior female executives to rise up the ranks as they choose.

Women represent nearly half of the workforce and comprise just 23% of all American CEOs, but that percentage has increased three-fold over the last 20 years, according to Jean Lau Chin, a professor at Adelphi University. The number of female executives coming up behind them was not much better, according to “Gender Bias and Compensation in the Executive Suite of the Fortune 100” in the Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications & Conflict. Females held 24, or 5.8%, of executive positions in 2003 based on the proxy statements of Fortune 100. However, this finding represented a massive improvement over 1997 figures, which showed 51, or 2.6%, of the officers at Fortune 500 companies were women. Relatively little has been done to study the credit union community.

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