Carly Fiorina, one of the most powerful female chief executive officers in America, was forced to resign on Wednesday by the board of Hewlett-Packard due to the unsuccessful results of the company’s merger with Compaq. Fiorina served as president, chief executive and chairperson of Hewlett-Packard, the first woman to serve as all three at a major computer company, the Chicago Tribune reports. She will receive a severance package estimated to value $21 million.
Additionally, Fiorina was one of only eight female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, as well as the first female CEO of a major technology corporation, and the first female CEO of a company that is part of the Dow Jones industrial average, according to Newsday. “Who’s left? Very few,” Hedy Ratner, co-president of the Women’s Business Development Center, said in the Chicago Tribune. “We’re not seeing the growth of women as CEOs in major organizations.”
The New York Times reports that the Fiorina is not entirely responsible for Hewlett-Packard’s declining stock prices, as she took command of the company just before the stock market’s technology bubble burst. Also, the Times compares the personal computer business to the airline business, stating that while sales in each industry have steadily increased, profits have not.
The Tribune reports that the departure of Fiorina is disappointing for the many women in business for whom she was a role model. “She is the most visible CEO, who fought the corporate wars,” John Challenger, of a Chicago outplacement firm, told Newsday. However, Fiorina’s tenure as Hewlett-Packard CEO still serves as an example of a female CEO standing her ground, and is “a harbinger of things to come,” Challenger continued.