Ginni Rometty, the first female CEO of IBM, will step down later this year after serving eight years in the role. With Rometty’s departure on the horizon, Fortune reports that the number of women leading Fortune 500 companies will dwindle from 35 to 34. Though this number is slightly higher than the record 33 women who were listed in the annual Fortune 500 issue last May, the fact still remains that women hold less than 7% of Fortune 500 CEO seats, while women of color hold even less.
Rometty, who first joined IBM in 1981, understood the power of women in leadership and credits her experience at IBM with teaching her early on that there were no limits to what she could become.
“While there was never a watershed moment that I can remember saying to myself, ‘Gee, I want to be CEO,’ what I do have is a really strong memory throughout my whole career that anyone at IBM could be anything they wanted to be at IBM,” she said in a 2019 interview with Fortune. “And that, to me, I think always gave me that feeling to just keep going because you can be whatever you want to be.”
Following the news of Rometty’s departure, several top CEOs praised the executive for her work at IBM, including General Motors CEO Mary Barra who referred to her as a “great partner and an inspiring leader.”
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