When most people think about executives, managers, or entrepreneurs they visualize a male. That vision is changing. Women are playing a bigger and more important role in business today. Now more than ever, women are a vital force in the realm of business that used to be male dominated.
A woman being involved in business is not a new idea. In the eighteenth century, English laws that were carried over into North America made rules for married women in the colonies stating that they could not own property in their own names nor could they sign a contract. ?Despite these hindrances, many colonial women ran and managed their own business, either in the names of their husbands or in their own names if they were widowed or single? (www.library.hbs.edu). Women gained greater rights after the second half of the nineteenth century. New laws strengthened women?s control over their estates, enabled women to obtain credit, make contracts, and act as independent agents.
Because of this newfound independence, women began entering the business world in increasing numbers. These women were also serving in capacities that were previously understood to be the domain of men. For most women, the economic success that was achieved was not very spectacular. Nevertheless, these women kept on working, motivated by the need to support themselves or their families, by the satisfaction of working for one?s keep, and by the excitement of entrepreneurial endeavors (www.library.hbs.edu).
A study completed by Catalyst, a web site devoted to women in business, found that in the year 2001 the percentage of board seats held by women in the Fortune 500 is 12.4 percent, up from 11.7 percent in 2000, and 11.2 percent in 1999. In addition, 87 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have at least one woman board director, up from...