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Xerox Corp.'s Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns will become CEO of Xerox in July.

Credit: Slate

The soon-to-be-completed leadership succession at Xerox from Ann Mulcahy — a woman — to Ursula Burns — also a woman — is one for the record books. It will be the first woman-to-woman transition at a Fortune 500 company, and Burns is the first African-American woman to take the helm of any such corporation.

Mulcahy has balked at the notion that the über-competent Burns needed her help — or anyone else's — in making her way through the ranks. Nonetheless, the paucity of women in senior positions who might in turn mentor young women on their way up the ladder is one of the primary reasons put forth to explain the continued existence of the glass ceiling in corporate America. In science and technology, the situation is even bleaker — women are under-represented at every level, from advanced college classes to the executive suite, making Burns' rise from math major to CEO of tech giant Xerox all the more remarkable.

From Slate
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