NAFE — the National Association for Female Executives — released it list of the top 50 for-profit companies that that are “paving the way in women’s advancement.” Women in these companies hold 23 percent of board seats (versus 16 percent at the Fortune 500) and represent 14 percent of CEOs (versus 2 percent).

Pharma companies in the list (find it here) include:

  • Abbott
  • AstraZeneca
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical USA
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck
  • Pfizer Inc

NOT included in the list are several of the other Top 20 pharma companies in terms of sales:

  • Novartis
  • Sanofi-Aventis
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Roche
  • Bayer
  • Novo Nordisk

Here’s NAFE’s methodology for choosing companies to be on the list:

In addition to assessing corporate programs and policies dedicated to advancing women, NAFE measured results, examining the number of women in each company overall, in senior management, and on its board of directors. They drew particular attention to the number of women with profit-and-loss responsibility. To be named to the NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women, companies with a minimum of two women on the board completed a comprehensive application that focused on the number of women in senior ranks (compared to men and to the company population), including questions about the programs and policies which support women’s advancement.

It seems to be a numbers game for the most part. Not taken into account is whether or not women executives were made scape goats by their male superiors. If that had been part of NAFE’s methodology, perhaps Johnson and Johnson would not have made the list this year.

Recall that Johnson and Johnson’s male CEO forced a female executive to face a Congressional Committee rather than do it himself (see “J&J’s Goggins Takes Bullet for CEO Weldon“).