The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

This staggering chart shows how few minority women hold executive positions

Placeholder while article actions load

These days, we get a steady drumbeat of reminders about the yawning gender gap at the top of many of this country's institutions: Fewer than five percent of the CEOs of companies in the S&P 500 are women. In the current U.S. Congress, women hold just 20 Senate seats and 84 in the House of Representatives.

Just six states have female governors, only 26 percent of colleges and universities are headed by women, and just 18 percent of the largest nonprofit organizations have female chief executives.

Those statistics and many more are collected in a new report released Wednesday by the American Association of University Women, which examines everything from why women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions to how our unconscious biases shape the problem. The authors reviewed hundreds of studies on the issue and offer suggestions for lawmakers, business leaders and individuals for what can be done to help address it.

While the report offers little in the way of new explanations or solutions, it's worth noting for its efforts to call out not just the leadership gap between men and women, but between white women and minority women at the top. "A lot of the leadership research is about all women," says Catherine Hill, AAUW's vice president of research. "I think the stories about black and Hispanic women and other minorities get shadowed."

For instance, when reporting on public school superintendent figures, the report notes that in 2014, white women made up 18 percent of superintendents, black women made up one percent, and women of other races and ethnicities combined made up another one percent. It cites the 2015 Forbes' billionaires list, showing that while only 46 of the 400 richest people in the United States last year were women, just one of those was a woman of color.

AAUW's report visualizes this striking divide in one staggering chart, using 2014 data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to illustrate how men and women of different racial and ethnic groups are represented in both the private sector workforce as a whole and in its senior-level executive jobs. One can just make out the 1.3 percent of executives that are Hispanic women (who comprise 6.2 percent of the private sector workforce). Or the 1.5 percent of executives who are African American women (7.6 percent of the private sector workforce).

Indeed, according to AAUW's analysis of EEOC data, there are just two groups where the percentage on the right is larger than the one on the left. Asian American men make up 3.6 percent of all senior-level executives and managers, a slightly higher percentage than their 3.2 percent representation in the private sector.

White men, meanwhile, make up nearly two-thirds of private sector executives. That's nearly twice their overall representation in the private sector.

Read also:

More women at the top could spell less corporate trouble

Sheryl Sandberg’s latest thoughts on women, work and equality

Like On Leadership? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.