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Why aren’t more women association CEOs?

Five leaders share views, experiences

June 16, 2017
By Walt Williams

National Recreation and Park Association CEO Barbara Tulipane was the first woman in her family to pursue a professional career, but to do so, she needed to navigate a man’s world.

“I learned to play golf so I could join the boys out on the golf course,” Tulipane said, citing an example. “Did I want to play golf? Not really, but I knew if I wanted to be in their conversations, I had to join their game.”

Women hold a minority of CEO positions in associations and professional societies, with the percentage depending on the size and type of organization, according to data collected by CEO Update. Women account for 37 percent of CEOs at professional societies with revenues of more than $2 million, but only 21 percent at trade groups of the same size.