The complaints each year are by now predictable. A few sample tweets since last week: “Why so few women on the #Fortune40?” “We need more women on this list.” “Astounding… Less than half? Wake up.”
I oversee the team that puts together the Fortune 40 Under 40 list, our once-a-year ranking of the most influential people in business under age 40 (head here to check out this year’s list). And for as long as we’ve been doing it, the topic of the number of women on the list—specifically, the lack thereof—has been an issue.
I’m happy to report that it’s become less of an issue. This year we have impressive women like Marissa Mayer, the 39-year-old CEO of Yahoo YHOO -3.08% who became the youngest person to head a Fortune 500 company the year she stepped in; Olivia Garfield, CEO of UK water company Severn Trent and one of five women CEOs—of any age—on the FTSE 100; VijayaGadde, general counsel of Twitter TWTR -3.79% and the only woman on the executive team; and Elizabeth Holmes, whose blood-diagnostic startup Theranos is valued at $9 billion. (Read our June cover story on Holmes, “This CEO is out for blood.”)
But there are only 15 women on the list. 15 out of 40 is not parity—far from it. And that’s where the complaints come in.
Of course we agree: we need more women on this list. And we’d love to have half of the 40 be women. But the deficit on our list reflects the deficit in reality. It also reflects a truism about women in business I’ve come to realize. When it comes to women under 40, the universe of candidates whose business achievements (typically that’s revenue, funding, size or scale of company) match men of the same age group is much smaller than we’d like it to be. But when you look at women between 40 and 44, the universe of powerful women explodes in number — and their roles are much bigger. The sweet spot for women in business, I would argue, is ages 40 to 44.
I can’t even count the number of times we’ve come across a new name during the 40 Under 40 research process who we think is a shoe-in for the list only to discover she’s just missed the cutoff and is actually 40 or 41. This year, to cite just one example, we were thrilled to learn about a young divisional CEO at a major bank. We were briefly elated in the office—discovering new people in very big jobs is the holy grail for this list—until we learned she’d turned 40 just months prior. This kind of disappointment has happened to me so many times over the years that I have a word for it: fortyfreude; it’sschadenfreude, of the 40 under 40 variety. We’re so happy for their success; we only wish they were still eligible.
《财富》40位40岁以下的商界精英(Fortune 40 Under 40)榜单由我领导的团队负责,我们会每年一次评选出40岁以下最具影响力的商界精英。从榜单推出以来,上榜的女性数量,尤其是女性不足的问题,一直是热门话题。
我很高兴地告诉大家,现在这已经不是问题了。今年的榜单上,有39岁的雅虎(Yahoo)CEO梅丽莎•梅耶,出任这项职位时,她是最年轻的《财富》500强公司(Fortune 500)领导人;英国水务公司Severn Trent的CEO奥利维亚•加菲尔德,也是富时100指数公司(FTSE 100)仅有的五位女性CEO之一(包括所有年龄段);Twitter公司首席法律顾问维杰亚•加德,是该公司管理团队中唯一的女性;以及伊莉莎白•霍尔姆斯,她的血液诊断初创公司Theranos的市值已经达到90亿美元。
And yet consider the long list of incredibly powerful women in their early 40s: At 44, Gisel Ruiz holds the huge title of EVP and COO of Walmart U.S. WMT -0.93% . Just last week, Lisa Su became the 26th CEO of a Fortune 500 company when chipmaker AMD AMD 0.74% named her its new chief; she’s 44. Earlier this year, 41-year-old Jane Lauder became global brand president of Clinique—Estee Lauder Companies’ EL -2.24% biggest business. Sarah Robb O’Hagan, president of Equinox, is 42, while Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola’s KO -0.90% president of sparkling brands and strategic marketing, North America, Debra Crew, newly-named president of RJ Reynolds Tobacco RAI -1.34% , and Spanx founder Sara Blakely are all 43. If we extend the universe to 45, we get to Marianne Lake, CFO of JPMorgan Chase JPM -0.62% , Heather Bresch, CEO of MylanMYL -3.47% , Julie Greenwald, chairman and COO of Atlantic Records, Mellody Hobson, chairman of DreamworksDWA -0.97% and director of Starbucks SBUX -3.05% and Estee Lauder—and of course Sheryl Sandberg, she of Facebook FB 0.11% and Lean In.
That’s a lot of young women—and a lot of power. But none of it under 40.
What can we take from this? One easy explanation might be that in their 40s, those women with children have finally emerged from the early childcare years that can be the most time-consuming. That may be true, but many are still having children well into their 40s (Hobson became a mom last year, and Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube GOOG -2.07% , is pregnant with her fifth child at 46). And the notion that kids become easier once they’re school-age is not always true; as Anne-Marie Slaughter has pointed out, it’s often during their teenage years that children need their parents more.
Another reason might be that given the way the cards are still stacked against women in business—there is an entrenched reward system at work in many corporations and institutions that makes it harder for women to climb than men— it takes them longer to get to the powerhouse ranks.
There’s also talk, of course, of ambition and confidence gaps. I believe these to be true and real. (Reading Lean In as a single woman with no children, I stayed out of the debate around the book’s points on juggling motherhood and work. But the characterization of women dutifully following the rules, being polite, overpreparingfor everything, doubting themselves and otherwise holding themselves back in the workplace rang very, very true to me.)
And, of course, the 40 under 40 list tends to reward entrepreneurship in particular, which, for a variety of reasons, tends to draw and reward men in much greater numbers than women.
In truth, all of the above probably contribute in some way. The much more positive trend, though, is that momentum is picking up and that women have started to scale new heights across all of business, even under 40. The caliber of the women on the list and the pool we had to choose from this year was exceptional. And we crossed an important milestone when a woman entrepreneur surfaced with a startup whose valuation could go toe to toe with Airbnb, Uber or GoPro in Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos.
I have every hope that one day the 40 under 40 will reach parity. We’re on our way. Until then, send me your ideas for super powerful women who will still be under the age of 40 next October. The only cure for my fortyfreude is more stellar young women leaders. 
但看看那些刚满40岁但具有极高影响力的女性:44岁的吉赛尔•鲁伊兹担任沃尔玛(Walmart)美国区执行副总裁兼首席运营官。上周,芯片制造商AMD任命苏姿丰为公司新任首席执行官,她成为这家《财富》500强公司的第26任CEO;她也只有44岁。今年早些时候,简•兰黛成为雅诗兰黛(Estee Lauder)公司最大的业务部门倩碧(Clinique)的全球品牌总裁。健身俱乐部Equinox的总裁莎拉•罗布•奥哈根42岁,可口可乐公司(Coca-Cola)北美区气泡饮料品牌与战略营销总裁温迪•克拉克、雷诺烟草公司(RJ Reynolds Tobacco)新任总裁黛布拉•克鲁和知名内衣品牌Spanx创始人莎拉•布莱克利都是43岁。如果将范围再扩大到45岁,还有摩根大通(JPMorgan Chase)CFO玛丽安娜•莱克、迈兰制药(Mylan)CEO希瑟•布莱什、大西洋唱片公司(Atlantic Records)董事长兼COO茱莉亚•格林瓦尔德、梦工厂(Dreamworks)董事长及星巴克(Starbucks)与雅诗兰黛的董事米勒迪•哈普森,当然还有《向前一步》(Lean In)的作者,来自Facebook的雪莉•桑德伯格。
为什么会出现这样的情况?一个简单的解释是,40岁的妈妈们,最终度过了初期照看孩子的阶段,这个阶段需要花费最多的时间。这样的解释或许是正确的,但有些人在40岁的时候刚刚有了孩子(霍布森去年当上了妈妈,46岁的YouTube CEO苏珊•沃西基怀上了第五个孩子)。而且,学龄儿童更容易照看这种观点也并非完全正确;正如安妮-玛丽•斯劳特指出,青春期的孩子反而更需要父母。