News Column

Women Role Models in Leadership

April 2003, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Jesús Chavarría, Editor & Publisher

According to the women's group Catalyst, females account for 15.7 percent of the corporate officers in the Fortune 500. Women hold 7.9 percent of the "clout" positions at these companies, and they make up 5.2 percent of the top money-earners. While these numbers aren't large, considering that women represent 46.6 percent of the U.S. labor force, all of the statistics have jumped up in the last two years.

Hispanic women are notable participants in this upswing. The Labor Department projects that the number of Hispanic women in the work force will grow from 5.7 million in 1998 to 8.5 million by 2008, the largest percentage increase (48 percent) among all female ethnic groups. They are employed mainly in the technical, sales, and administrative support (36.8 percent), service (26.7 percent), and managerial and professional (18.1 percent) categories. On the entrepreneurial front, the Center for Women's Business Research estimates that Hispanic females own 470,344 businesses, a figure 39 percent higher than the 1997 total.

It seems women – and Hispanic women in particular – are succeeding everywhere. As a response, our list of 80 Elite Hispanic Women has expanded its categories beyond Corporate America and education to include leaders from government, sports and entertainment, and the nonprofit sector.

This issue introduces the Hispanic Business Magazine Woman of the Year Award. This honor highlights the progress of Hispanic women by focusing on one individual who has national stature. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, with her influence in both the political and business sectors, is a worthy inaugural recipient. She joins the other members of the 80 Elite Women as the leaders in a groundswell of Hispanic women's achievement.

Discrimination remains a core issue (see "Affirmative Action Front and Center"), and in the Woman of the Year we find a role model who has overcome challenges based on gender and ethnicity. The first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress, Ms. Velázquez stands as a harbinger of Hispanic influence in the nation's capital. Moreover, she has defended small-business and minority entrepreneurship as ranking Democrat on the Small Business Committee for years, working to promote the advancement or favorable perception of the Hispanic community.

In future years, we will continue to recognize leaders from all sectors who mark a path for the next generation of Hispanic women leaders. Our coverage will expand in step with the progress of our markets.


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