What prevents women from reaching the highest rungs of the leadership ladder? This report seeks to answer this by taking a closer look at the representation of women in management and leadership positions across the United States—and the barriers that hold organizations back from achieving full gender and racial equity in leadership.

Drawing on the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of the 2000 to 2018 American Community Survey, as well as existing data from Catalyst and McKinsey & Company, it presents a snapshot of women’s leadership in the U.S. to illuminate structural barriers that stubbornly persist after decades of little progress. It concludes with recommendations for employers to break down these barriers and accelerate women’s path to career advancement.