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Minority women push for gains

The climb to the top in corporate America remains a rugged scramble for minority women, says a study released last week by Catalyst, a New York-based group that focuses on women's issues.

More than half of 1,735 black, Asian-American, and Hispanic women surveyed at 30 large US companies said their companies' diversity programs are ineffective in dealing with the issues of subtle racism.

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When asked if opportunities for advancement had improved in the last five years, 38 percent of minority women surveyed said no, compared with only 15 percent of white women.

Still, many women involved in the study spelled out successful steps some companies have taken to create a more level playing field. Among them: giving minority women more visibility, making sure they understand organizational politics, and clearly mapping out developmental goals.

Catalyst president Sheila Wellington stressed that achieving a better gender and racial mix in the workplace will become a matter of survival for most US companies. She pointed to demographic predictions that by 2006 women will make up 47.4 percent of the total US work force. Representation of minority women will grow to 13.6 percent, while white-male representation will decline 17 percent to 44.3 percent.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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