Glass ceiling for women cracked, but not shattered

While women have made dents on the glass ceiling, only a few have broken through, a new study shows.

The annual Rosensweig report on women at the top levels of corporate Canada found 37 women now. Ofc. jobs in Canada's 100 largest publicly traded companies, up from 23 the previous year.

There are three women chief executives, compared to only one the year before, the report show.

But while the one-year increase is noteworthy, the numbers underlined the need to do more when it comes to gender imbalance in the highest levels, the report concludes.

"Diversity initiatives have been a big part of Canadian corporate life over the last decade or so," said Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner of Rosenzweig & Company.

"These numbers show us that something is still not right, but they also tell us there's been some progress. More women made it to corner offices last year so the glass ceiling is cracking; but it is certainly nowhere near shattered."

Pamela Jeffrey, founder of the Women's Executive Network, agreed that improvement is good news, but there is a lot of work still to do.

"(Progress) is very slow but seems steady," she said.

Studies by her organization show the lack of women role models and mentors is one of the biggest barriers to women advancing in the senior corporate ranks.

"Women in their 40s and 50s have had to open doors themselves, "Jeffrey said.

"When women represent almost half the workforce, these numbers clearly state the remains an 'old boys' network' at the top of corporate Canada and there are definite barriers preventing women from reaching the top, "Rosenzweig said.

Jeffrey said women must build a strong network of contacts and ensure their invited to "the meeting after the meeting," which is a hallmark of the old boys' club.

Women who've reached the top levels often say that has had to perform better or prove themselves more qualified the milk out of parts, Jeffrey said. One successful woman said she developed a "pitbull personality," she added.

Studies have found companies with higher representation of women in leadership roles of perform other companies with fewer women leaders.

The report echoes the findings of the 2006 U.S. study conducted that showed women continue to be passed over for top corporate leadership positions.

The Catalyst census, which tracked women executives in the Fortune 500 companies, found the most large U.S. companies have made scant progress advancing women to leadership and top-paying positions over the past decade.