In recent decades, women have made enormous progress in the world of work and academia. However, the glass ceiling remains pretty intact in the 21st century. While women tend to dominate in medical and biological sciences in the U.S., they are still enormously underrepresented in the field of Engineering, Environmental Science and Computers and Mathematics, for example. The female presence is also notably minimal in political and management roles across the board.
According to study this month - on March 3rd, 2014 - women only hold 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEO positions and Fortune 1000 CEO positions. In addition, only 16.9% of board seats are held by women and just 14.6% of executive officers are female. These percentages, while higher than they may have been only a few years ago, are still indisputably low. Many barriers to equality still remain. According to a 2013 study, more than 50% of countries did not have laws prohibiting gender discrimination during hiring. A startling 89% did not have laws prohibiting potential employers from asking about family status during a job interview.
And yet, there is hope for more organizational equality for women all over the globe. Catalyst.org, an organization devoted to “changing workplaces” and providing up-to-date and important information regarding the business world, explains a concept called “The Ripple Effect” and why it's beneficial for women. As fertility rates continue to decline and the global population is increasingly aging, the talent pool shrinks and creates more opportunities for women to participate in the labor force. According to the Ripple Effect theory, the economic empowerment of women can help improve the country’s growth and stability, enlarge labor forces, and contribute to economic prosperity. According to Catalyst, increasing the levels of female employment could help raise the GDP of the United States by 5%, not to mention raise it as much as 27% in India, or 12% in the United Arab Emirates. Improving women’s global standing is also correlated with higher literacy rates, greater education access, and lower infant mortality in countries around the world. It appears, then, that empowering women is not only a key component for the cause of feminism, but can also benefit societies at large.
While there is more work to be done, one thing is certain; with the help of ambitious, driven women and forward-thinking individuals around the world, conditions can improve for women in the professional realm. The kind of women on this list are the ones who are forging a path for females the world over; the following are just ten rapidly growing, up and coming companies which are led by women.
10 24 Seven Inc. - Celeste Gudas
24 Seven Talent is a recruitment firm which launched in 2000. The business prides itself on being a different kind of recruitment firm, because it was developed not with the intention of simply headhunting but as a collaboration of professionals from creative industries who aimed to help clients accomplish their professional goals. The company began as a small office and has grown rapidly; it now connects some of the best talent with creatively driven companies all over the world. CEO Celeste Gudas was recently given the prestigious Dena Coye Outstanding Women Entrepreneurship Award from the National Minority Business Council for her work with 24Seven. The company is also made up of 78% women!
9 ACC Construction Corp. - Michelle Medaglia
ACC Construction is a constructing and general contracting firm located in New York City. It was founded in 1984 by Al Medaglia and was taken over by his daughter Michelle in 1995, who continues to run the company today. ACC prides itself on the ability to “anticipate and solve problems” and to “build motivation and enthusiasm into [their] teams.” Their projects range from corporate to recreational to educational. For example, some notable educational projects include working on Columbia Dorms, the Fordham University theater, and Beth El preschool. Under president Michelle Medeglia, ACC received certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise; ACC is now one of New York’s premier women-owned construction firms.
8 Atrium Staffing - Rebecca Cenni
Atrium Staffing is a top boutique agency for small Fortune 500 companies looking for new employees. Atrium provides hire placements in Administrative Support, Finance, Retail, Technology and Creative jobs. It was founded in 1995 by Rebecca Cenni, who built the firm from the ground up using what she has coined an “applicant-centric” philosophy. This strategy has created applicants who are inspired and willing to share their successes. Today, 84% of Atrium’s applicants are referred by other applicants; this is a testament to the success of the business. It is not only one of the nation’s top diversity staffing suppliers and it's also a member of the Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
7 Big Apple Car Inc. - Diana Clemente
Big Apple Car Inc. is a private transportation company that has served Brooklyn and the surrounding area since its founding in 1983. The owner of this business is Diana Clemente, who has worked in the black car industry for the majority of her life. Within 5 years of being a controller at the company, she was named President of Big Apple Car. In 2013, she received the WBE Star Award from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. She also received Brooklyn’s “Top Women in Business” award from Schneps Communications and the Brava! Award from SmartCEO.
6 D'Artagnan Inc - Ariane Daguin
D'Artagnan Inc. was founded in 1985 and is a company dedicated to producing fine meats in America. An avid supporter of the “food-to-table” movement, D'Artagnan is the leading purveyor of game meat, organic poultry, and other smoked delicacies in the nation. D’Artagnan also states that all of the four-star restaurants in New York City have their products on the menu. The company has received noteworthy mentions in The New York Times, Bon Appetit, and The Wall Street Journal. The founder and owner of the company is French-born Ariane Daguin, who comes from a family with culinary expertise and notoriety. She has remained committed to free-range, natural production and humane farming.
5 Ergonomic Group Inc (EGI) - Kim Girards
EGI has been a player in the tech sector for almost 29 years, working with customers to resolve business-related issues affecting their organizations. The company originally began in 1894 in Long Island, NY as an IBM reseller. EGI has found great success in recent years, and has acquired notable partners such as HP, SUN, and Cisco. EGI annual revenues reached $100 million by 1994, and by 2004, had achieved $200M in annual revenue. EGI is proud to be a Diversity Women Owned Business. Founder, President and CEO is Kim Girards, who has run the company for over 27 years.
4 Henegan Construction Co. - Maureen A. Henegan.
Henegan Construction Company was founded in 1959 and has expanded rapidly since then. Henegan works on things like complex computer installations, communications systems, trading floors, fire protection systems, and other advanced technological endeavors essential to contemporary businesses. The company is run by a group of senior executives, led by current CEO and Chair Maureen A. Henegan. Ms. Henegan has played an essential role in the company, from hands-on project management to computer technology and finance. She was honored by Professional Women in Construction, receiving the Executive Achievement Award (1995) and Business Leadership Award (2001).
3 Hired By Matrix Inc - Sharon Olzerowicz
Hired by Matrix Inc is a full service staffing and recruiting company that works for Fortune 500 companies. Since it was founded 27 years ago, it provides its clients with industry knowledge and well-informed, successful matches. Today the company manages more than 250 consultants from engineers to accountants. Entrepreneur Sharon Olzerowicz is President and CEO of the company. In 2013 she was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the New Jersey region, and a finalist for the New Jersey Monthly Magazine’s Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners Award.
2 ICP Inc. - Michelle Fabozzi
ICP, Inc has been recognized as an industry leader in providing IT design, deployment, support, and consulting to many diverse customers. The company provides Fortune 500 companies, state or local governments, educational institutions, and other business partners with efficient support. In its own language, ICP addresses “challenges by improving organizational performance, enabling business strategies, and lowering costs.” CEO and founder Michelle Fabozzi, a graduate of Wagner College, has been an essential factor in transforming ICP from a small business in Long Island, New York, into a multi-million dollar Women Business Enterprise (WBE).
1 INSYS Group Inc.
INSYS Group works to provide its clients with business assistance in aiding them with reducing costs, increasing business agility, and finding specialized resources. The corporation has a specific expertise in information technology, clinical research, and accounting. At the top of the management hierarchy is founder and CEO Linda Magnusson-Rosario. She is an accomplished IT services executive with over 30 years of experience supporting Fortune 100 organizations. Magnusson-Rosario holds a BA in Fine Arts and Art Education from the Pratt Institute and, in a cool twist, is a member of an adult synchronized skating team that competed nationally from 2000-2011. She is also a member of the Women Presidents Organization and Women Impacting Public Policy.