Women's Book of Lists Reveals Shocking Statistics About Big Businesses in Portland - Vancouver

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Some shocking statistics about how big businesses in Portland value advancing women are revealed in the first-ever Women's Book of Lists inside of the 2007 NW Women's Directory.

Some shocking statistics about how big businesses in Portland value advancing women are revealed in the first-ever Women's Book of Lists inside of the 2007 NW Women's Directory, says publisher Michele Larsen.

Now in its fourth year of publication, the release of the annual NW Women's Directory is planned to coincide and celebrate Women's History Month, according to Larsen. The NW Women's Directory (NWWD), now including the Women's Book of Lists, is published by Purple Turtle Press, publisher of the monthly NW Women's Journal (NWWJ), the local voice for professional women.

"The most surprising and shocking statistic was revealed when the NWWD staff compiled the responses from businesses invited to participate in the project," says Larsen. "An unbelievable eighty-six percent (86%) of the top Portland and Vancouver businesses asked to report in the first ever Women's Book of Lists either refused to divulge the numbers of women in their top ranks, or ignored repeated requests for information."

This finding suggests either the majority of metro-area big businesses have embarrassingly low numbers, says Larsen, or perhaps they don't feel a gender-diverse workplace is worth reporting. In either case, such a low response reflects poorly on how the community values women's contribution to the economy.

Another unexpected result of the survey is the sizable disparity in Female Quotients (FQ) among businesses within specific industries. For example, the FQ in large accounting firms ranged from 0.25% to 80% locally. In banks, it ranged from 9% to 73%, and law firms went from 27% to 70%. These figures suggest that low numbers are most likely due more to the corporate culture of an individual firm rather than the availability of women in the talent pool, theorizes Larsen.

"We know that women are starting new businesses at the highest rate," says Larsen, referring to the recent Forbes magazine article which estimated 420 women start new businesses every day. The Center for Women's Business Research reports that is twice the national average for new business start ups. And in a recent interview, author Marti Barletta said that 70% of new businesses in the past decade were started by women.

"Yes, that's a great thing, but are they being squeezed out of the top corporate opportunities? And if that isn't the case, then why is full disclosure about hiring and promoting practices, as well as the current levels of women in top positions, information worth hiding?" says Larsen.

"This issue is important because it highlights how far we as a culture still have to go to achieve full equality for women," adds Larsen. While Larsen allows that such practices may not be malicious or deliberate, she believes that the indifference to the issue is almost worse because it shows a lack of interest in half the population's professional value.

On a more positive note, there were even more surprises. Nationally, law firms are notorious for low numbers when it comes to women in high places: 17.3% of partners are women and 30% of all US lawyers are women (per American Bar Assoc. - Commission on Women 2006). Locally, the participating firms show a FQ ranging from 27% to 70% with the combined local average of 46% -- well over the national numbers for all law firms.

The first annual (and first ever) Women's Book of Lists appears in the 2007 NW Women's Directory and looks at top businesses in the Portland-Vancouver metro area from a professional woman's point of view, ranking them by their women owners, executives, managers and professionals. This first year covers 18 industries, including Advertising, Law, Banking, Engineering, Real Estate and Non-Profits.

The 2007 NW Women's Directory and Women's Book of Lists releases during Women's History Month on March 27th. To find out which top companies chose to participate and who had the highest female quotients among them, you can pick up a copy at the Purple Turtle Press office (400 E Evergreen Blvd, Ste 307, Vancouver 98660) as well as hundreds of locations in the metro area.

NW Women's Directory is published by Purple Turtle Press, Inc. located in Vancouver, Washington. Purple Turtle Press is 100% woman-owned and also publishes the NW Women's Journal, a monthly magazine written by, for and about professional women in the Portland-Vancouver metro area.

Editorial contact:

Michele McKeag Larsen, Editor/Publisher

NW Women's Journal - http://www.thenwwj.com
NW Women's Directory - http://www.thenwwd.com

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