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Women lose power near the top

December 14, 2011, 4:43 PM UTC

Women are losing power in corporate America.

Besides the news that struggling Avon is looking to replace Andrea Jung as CEO, there is Catalyst’s annual census, released this morning, showing that women hold 14.1% of executive positions in Fortune 500 companies today, vs. 15.6% five years ago.

The trend isn’t a good one, especially if you consider that companies with more women at the top tend to perform better financially, according to Catalyst research.

At least corporations are adding women in the boardroom. Fortune 500 boards today are 16.1% female, vs. 14.6% in 2006, Catalyst reports. (Of all Fortune 500 companies, Avon has the highest percentage of women directors, 50%.)

An increasing number of companies have at least three women on their boards–as new CEOs such as Ginny Rometty at IBM and Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard inject the top ranks with bona fide female power.

Meanwhile, who are the guys who don’t get it? They would be the directors of Avaya, Booz Allen Hamilton , Caesars Entertainment, Chrysler, Dollar General , First Data and 50 other companies that do not, according to Catalyst, have a single woman on their boards.