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Women CFOs may be in style–but what about the rest of the C-suite?

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15.02.2019

When Indra Nooyi resigned from PepsiCo last summer, she had spent 12 years as CEO–the rare woman to sit atop a major corporation. Nooyi, the company’s first and only female CEO, had been promoted to the position after six years as PepsiCo’s CFO. But like many of her peers, when her tenure was up, Nooyi was replaced by a man.

At the moment, there are reportedly just 27 women CEOs in the Fortune 500, none of whom are women of color, and 24 women CEOs in the S&P 500. The number of female CEOs peaked in 2017, with 6% of the Fortune 500, in no small part because women are rarely promoted to executive positions that could one day make them CEO. The women who manage to become executives tend to be relegated to roles in HR, marketing, or finance. Of the Fortune 500 companies, 64 have female CFOs.

When it comes to the woman CFO in particular, it may seem like we’ve made more progress than is reflected in these numbers. Over the last five years, we’ve seen women step into the role of chief financial officer at prominent Fortune 500 companies and across the tech industry. There’s Amy Hood at Microsoft, and perhaps most notably, Ruth Porat at Alphabet. Sarah Friar at Square was succeeded by Amrita Ahuja in January, and last year General Motors appointed Dhivya Suryadevara as CFO, making it the rare company to boast a female CEO and CFO.

But these appointments, while notable, haven’t kept pace with how many women actually work across financial services and accounting. In 2016, more than 60% of accountants and auditors were women, and over half of financial managers were female. Since 2000, the number of female CFOs has more than doubled, but the last five to six years have seen only a few new appointments. “Overall,........

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