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Blooming, but in parts

When it comes to having women at the helm in the corporate world, India’s financial services sector shows the way with a number of CEOs having broken through the gender barrier. And that’s solid for a nation in which boys are still treasured over girls in many parts. HT reports. Corporate Asia adrift on women | Pioneering women

business Updated: Mar 08, 2011 01:38 IST
HT Correspondent

When it comes to having women at the helm in the corporate world, India’s financial services sector shows the way with a number of CEOs having broken through the gender barrier. And that’s solid for a nation in which boys are still treasured over girls in many parts.

India’s number two and three banks, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank, are headed by Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma, while Naina Lal Kidwai in HSBC and Kalpana Morparia at JP Morgan Chase show that they are not exceptions.

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A survey of 240 Indian companies by EMA Partners in 2000 showed that 11% of them – that included public sector and multinational firms – had women CEOs. That compares rather well with 3 per cent in Fortune 500 companies.

But the details may show a clearer picture. It is the financial services sector is dominated by women in India, accounting for 54 % of the women CEOs.

Manufacturing – where a sizeable portion of the economy is – is still to befriend women at the top. Even information technology and IT-enabled services do not have many women CEOs.

Experts say this could be because these sectors require a fair amount of travel that come in the way of upward mobility of women in a traditional society.

Studies show that in the 1990s, the share of women in India’s engineering colleges had gone up to 40 per cent from 10 per cent a year earlier.

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While that may signal more women workers, a recent Mercer study says seven out of 10 organisations in the Asia-Pacific have no clear strategy to aid the development of women in leadership roles.