Powerful women who "chuck it"

Fortune magazine weighs in on top corporate women who drop out.

Published November 2, 2005 8:40PM (EST)

Given all the noise there's been lately about privileged women who have a hankering to flee the workforce, Broadsheet was very interested to see how Fortune magazine treated the subject alongside its annual list of the 50 most powerful women in business.

The piece "Goodbye to All That" profiles women who have dropped off Fortune's power list by giving up their seats in boardrooms and executive suites. The story asks: "So why do some women choose to chuck it?" The reasons for quitting that emerge are pretty much what you'd expect -- a life-threatening illness, a death in the family, a shift in the power structure.

What's really notable: Female corporate titans are not any more likely to quit than their male counterparts: "Research by Catalyst, an organization that studies women in the workplace, shows that attrition rates at the highest corporate levels are comparable for men and women (roughly 10 percent)," writes Jia Lynn Yang. "But because so few women make it to the top -- only 15.7 percent of corporate officers at Fortune 500 companies are women, according to Catalyst -- any departure naturally attracts notice."

So, at the highest reaches of corporate America women aren't a bunch of quitters, any more than men are. There are just so few women at that level, their departures make a bigger splash.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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