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In the upper echelon of industry, this might have been the year of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (and her baby), but that certainly didn't make 2012 the year of the female CEO. As of June, women held a mere 14.3 percent of executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, according to new data from Catalyst, reports Bloomberg's Brooke Sutherland. That 1.4 percent increase from last year represents a "glacial pace," the report states. For now, women like Mayer and Facebook's only female board member, Sheryl Sandberg, represent exceptions and not at all the rule.

And it's difficult to find signs of change elsewhere. Of the 71 leaders ranked in a new Forbes list of the world's most powerful people, only four women made the cut. Forbes itself, in a related story about the close-knit boys club among the world's most powerful, questions that tiny number, as you can see in the graphic below.  

As for the future of female CEOs, the gender pay-gap is still alive and well, even for fresh college graduates. And, Fortune's new 40 Under 40 list (which actually includes a lot more than 40 entrepreneurs) only features 12 women, including Mayer. (An improvement from last year, but still... ) 

This lack of progress might explain why we hear so much about Mayer: She remains an outlier, and thus worth the attention she continues to receive. But hopefully the limelight will also move the stats on this one, because it still doesn't make sense that less than a fifth of all high-level executive positions belong to a demographic that makes up half the population. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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