This research would be remiss if it didn’t address the fact that there is an ongoing debate about the lack of women in the C-suite of large corporations, as well as in the CEO role. As the HBR puts it in an article on the topic “The news about U.S. women’s presence in the C-suite — and especially the CEO job — has been pretty bleak. Nationwide, fewer than 5% of CEOs of public companies are women. In the Fortune 500, that number fell by 25% from 2017 to 2018, dipping from 32 (6.4%) to 24 (4.8%), before rising back in 2019”. ‘Research: Board Experience Is Helping More Women Get CEO Jobs’ (Tinsley, C. H., & Purmal, K., 2019).
While there are aspects that explain the lack of women in the C-Suite that probably align well with reasons why there aren’t more designers in the C-Suite, we have not executed any research on the topic and therefore excuse ourselves from speculating. One thing we can all assume, more designers in the C-Suite of large corporations also means more women, data shows that in design, with fluctuations between the type of design, 53.4% of Designers are Female, making them the more common gender in the occupation (Census Bureau, 2017). There is data suggesting that women are being invited more to become members of the Board of Directors before becoming CEO’s, and that is helping them get more CEO jobs (Tinsley et al, 2019).
Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that women might embrace design and its core tenants of empathy and people-centeredness to the point of hiring more designers to the C-suite (of the 34 identified designers in N-2 position in the F50, 7 are women).