At the current rate of change, it could take women 47 years to reach parity with men as corporate officers of Fortune 500 companies, according to a recent survey.And that’s nothing compared to the rate of change for the boardroom -- at the current rate of change, it could take women 73 years to reach parity with the men who sit on the boards of directors for Fortune 500 companies.

The survey was conducted by Catalyst, an independent nonprofit membership group that conducts research on women’s career advancement.

Women held 15.6 percent of Fortune 500 corporate officer positions in 2006, down slightly from 16.4 percent in 2005. That percentage was close to female representation in the boardroom, where the study found that similar to a year ago, women held 14.6 percent of all Fortune 500 board seats.

Also among the study’s findings:

  • The number of companies with three or more women corporate officers decreased;
  • The number of companies with one or two women board directors decreased, as did the number of companies had no female board directors at all -- though a greater number of companies had three or more female board directors;
  • Similar to last year, women are still more than twice as likely to hold staff positions, whereas men hold roughly an equal percentage of line and staff positions; and,
  • Women of color held only 3.1 percent of director positions in 2006, down slightly from 3.4 percent in 2005.

The good news was that women in top-paying positions rose slightly, from 6.4 percent in 2005, to 6.7 percent in 2006. The percentage of women with seats on the nominating, governance and/or compensation board committees also showed slight uptakes, to 14.7 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The exception to that rule was audit committees, where female representation showed a 2-percentagee-point decline, to 8.2 percent in 2006.The information in the “2006 Census of Women Corporate Officers, Top Earners, and Directors of the Fortune 500” is obtained from public documents.

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