Intel and the CEO gender gap

Intel and the CEO gender gap


When Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced his pending retirement last fall, there was speculation whether his successor would be a woman. Two of the most commonly mentioned candidates were Renée James, vice president of Intel's software business, and Diane Bryant, head of its datacenter and server business.

‘Twas not to be. Today, Intel announced COO Brian Krzanich would take the reins as the company’s new chief executive

I know what many readers are thinking — not the gender card again. Male or female, a CEO's gender shouldn't be relevant; the only metric should be a given candidate’s job performance: his/her qualifications and accomplishments.

In an ideal world, that would be the case; but in today's world, there is still a dearth of female executives across industry sectors.

Only 21 Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women make up 15% of Fortune 500 executive officers and 15% of law firm equity partners. And despite the Meg Whitmans, Ursula Burns and Marissa Mayers of the world, female tech CEOs are especially sparse — as far as I know, not a single female CEO has made inroads in that bastion of male enterprise: the semiconductor business.

In my November 2011 cover story, No Seat at the Table, I found that almost half of Oregon's 46 publicly-traded companies have no women on their boards, the same boards typically charged with finding a new CEO.

Sure, the CEO gender gap is a tired issue. But in 2013, it's an issue that has yet to be resolved.

Intel has had six CEOs in its 45-year history, and all of them have been men, although I should note that Renee James did move up in the executive ranks. In one of his first acts as CEO-elect, Krzanich named James as president.

UPDATE, MAY 6: I received an email today announcing the 20 finalists for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for Seattle and Portland. Not a single one is female.

Linda Baker keeps tabs on CEO and public policy issues.