Barra has promoted women to some key positions in recent years. Two years ago, she named Alicia Boler Davis executive vice president of global manufacturing, and in March she appointed Kim Brycz as senior vice president of human resources.
Those three are the only women among GM’s 17 corporate officers. With Suryadevara replacing Stevens, the automaker’s ranks will get closer to mirroring the share of women in senior jobs among S&P 500 companies, which is 27 percent, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit that tracks women in leaderships positions. The automaker’s board is tied with several other companies as the most diverse among S&P 500 companies with half of its directors being women.
“Any time a woman is added to the C-suite it’s something that should be celebrated,” said Anna Beninger, Catalyst’s senior director of research. “Given that the rate of change for women into the C-suite and into the CEO level has been so slow, any time we see one, it is certainly progress. On the flip side, it is one. We have to keep in mind that doesn’t mean a trend.”
When women do reach the C-suite, they are disproportionately appointed to roles that aren’t directly related to operations and therefore are less likely to lead to a future CEO opportunity, Beninger said.
“It’s going to be critical to get women into more C-suite level roles that are in the line -- positions that allow them to demonstrate the skills that are necessary to take on a CEO role eventually,” Beninger said.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.