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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Women saw little advancement in corporate boardrooms and compensation in 2010, extending a 5-year trend in which companies have lagged in promoting and mentoring of women to their own detriment, according to a new study released on Monday.
"Corporate America needs to get 'unstuck' when it comes to advancing women to leadership," said Ilene Lang, president and chief executive of Catalyst, a non-profit organization that advocates greater opportunities for women.
The study was based on annual filings made by Fortune 500 companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission or, in the case of insurance companies, to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
The study found that 136 of the Fortune 500 companies had no women executives. Among those with no women were Exxon Mobil, Berkshire Hathaway, Citigroup, Costco Wholesale and Sears, the study said.
"This is our fifth report where the annual change in female leadership remained flat. If this trend line represented a patient's pulse, she'd be dead," Lang said.
Women held 14.4 percent of executive officer positions in 2010, up from 13.5 percent in 2009, and female executive officers held 7.6 percent of the top earning positions, up from 6.3 percent in 2009, the 2010 Catalyst Census said.
The best five companies in terms of women in the executive suit were: Gap 50 percent, H&R Block 50 percent, Limited Brands 50 percent, TIAA-CREF 50 percent and Western Union 45.5 percent.
Women held 15.7 percent of board seats in 2010, a 0.5 percentage point gain over 2009, and more than 10 percent of companies lacked any women on their boards in 2009 and 2010.
Catalyst research showed men with mentors were promoted more and compensated at a higher rate than women, while women with mentors were far less likely to be promoted or paid more as a result of being mentored.
Companies need to be convinced that diversity in leadership was important, Lang said.
"To be successful they have to have more points of view -- people from all kinds of background and have diversity in the senior leadership," she said. "It's core to the strategy."
Reporting by Bernard Orr, editing by Daniel Trotta and Greg McCune