What's one thing every person on Earth has in common? A mother. And hundreds of millions of women are thus known within the family circle as efficient managers with a good grasp of long- range planning, budget priorities, etc.

So few people should be surprised at an International Labor Organization's report indicating rapid progress for women as managers in the workplaces of many nations worldwide.

The ILO study shows women in America now holding more than 40 percent of "administrative and managerial jobs." Some of the more remarkable advances for women in management over the past decade have come in unexpected regions. Korea, despite its current economic turmoil, provides a striking example. In 1986 women held fewer than 5 percent of such jobs there. In 1995 they held more than one-third.

Worldwide, about 20 percent of administrative/managerial positions are occupied by women. Two major factors appear to account for the rise in countries where change is most rapid: (1) Women who start out as entrepreneurs with small businesses that grow. (2) Women who rise from clerical jobs in rapidly growing service industries. Even in a traditionally male-run business sector like Japan's, women have gained influence through shrewd running of small businesses.

The transition is far from complete anywhere, though. Only small numbers of women have yet taken the helm at major corporations. But, as more women gain business education and climb corporate ranks, that should change.

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