(Fortune) Women as bosses (Fortune, 1956)
Editor's note: Every week, Fortune.com publishes a favorite story from our magazine archives. This week, Fortune launched the 2012 edition of its annual Most Powerful Women list, a ranking of the women who are shaping the future of technology, defense, and media. This piece from 1956 looks at the progress women were making in the workplace -- as well as major obstacles.
There are more women in executive jobs today than there were fifteen years ago, five years ago, or a year ago, and men's reluctance to give them executive rank seems to be diminishing. That is not to say that the historic barriers against women in top positions have crumbled. But the surface cracks are widening. And when one woman does a good job in a corporation that has been skeptical about women, promotion comes a little easier for the next woman. Some companies are beginning to allow women to take their management-training courses. A woman sitting in on an executive conference is less of a shock to the male than she was only a few years ago. A few big companies--R.C.A., the Home Life Insurance Co., and the New York Central, for example--have even ushered women into the board room.