Powerful Women in Business

By Kris Frieswick | Boston Magazine |

First the good news: Some of the most powerful women in the entire business world are right here in Boston. ORIT GADIESH is chairman of one of the nation’s most commanding consulting firms, Bain & Company; ABIGAIL JOHNSON is the possible heir to financial giant Fidelity Investments; LAURA SEN runs discount powerhouse BJ’s Wholesale Club; and entrepreneur ROBIN CHASE, cofounder and former CEO of Zipcar, is dramatically changing how we think about transportation.

The other good news? If you’re single, female, college-educated, have no kids, and hold a full-time job, then there’s a very good chance you make more money than your male peers. Boston is one of the few cities where women have a real shot at earning even more than men with similar experience and education. Moreover, our universities turn out groundbreaking minds in medicine, science, marketing, and more, and many of those women stay in Boston after graduating.

The bad news, though, is pretty bad: Despite the concentration of female talent, and the high level of female participation in the workforce, women still hold just 8.9 percent of executive roles in our state’s 100 largest public companies — a number that’s actually lower than both the all-time Massachusetts high of 9.2 percent (set in 2003) and the 13.5 percent at all Fortune 500 companies in 2009. So while the women who have broken through are mighty examples indeed, it’s fair to say that on the whole we still have our work cut out for us.