BOSTON — MORE women are breaking through the glass ceiling.
For the first time, more than half (52 percent) of Fortune 500 companies have at least one woman on the boards of directors. That's up from 49 percent in 1993, according to a survey released this week by Catalyst, a New York-based nonprofit research advocacy group for women in business.
``It's the smart CEOs that know that women are a powerful force in corporate America,'' says Catalyst President Sheila Wellington, who says she expects to see double-digit increases every year in the number of women on boards as more of them move up the corporate ladder.
When Catalyst first conducted the study in 1977, 47 women served on boards, compared with 570 today.
On Fortune 500 boards, women hold the most seats in the jewelry industry, soaps and cosmetics, publishing, apparel, toys, and sporting goods industries.
Despite the gains, women still hold only 6.9 percent of total board seats.
Other findings include:
* Each of the 10 most profitable Fortune 500 companies has at least one female director; 60 percent have two.
* 67.5 percent of all companies headquartered in the Northeast do have a female director, versus 58 percent in the Midwest, 52 percent in the West, and 51 percent in the South.
* The number of companies with multiple female directors has increased by 19.3 percent between 1993 and `94.