More women in leadership is linked to better financial performance. Organizations that are made up of at least 30% women are 1.4 times more likely to experience sustained, profitable growth. While we can make a strong case for why there should be more women at the top, it is sometimes women themselves who impede other women’s progress.
In 1973, psychologists at the University of Michigan defined the now-popular theory known as queen bee syndrome, which explains that a woman in a position of authority in a male-dominated environment treats subordinates more critically if they are female.
Margaret Thatcher, the U.K.’s first female Prime Minister, has been described as a queen bee for not promoting or furthering the careers of women in her cabinet. Thankfully, this is now starting to change.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, co-chaired by Melinda Gates (#6), announced a plan to spend $170 million over the next four years on women’s economic empowerment. Gates says, “Simply put, when money flows into the hands of women who have the authority to use it, everything changes.” Gates’ investment company Pivotal Ventures is also aimed at closing the funding gap for female founders, helping to “dismantle barriers to equality for women and people of color in the United States.”
IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty (#10) is another woman on Forbes’ list who is working to support other women. Under her leadership, IBM has strengthened its commitment to diversity and inclusion by implementing a “returnships” program, making it easier for women to return to the workforce. In 2015, the company also announced a breast milk delivery program, allowing working mothers to easily ship breast milk back home to their babies while traveling on business.