But some women do shatter the glass ceiling and contribute to gradually changing attitudes about women's roles in business.
In honor of International Women's Day, here are some of the women who are or have been chief executives at major companies.
Indra Nooyi has been PepsiCo's CEO since 2006 and has navigated changing views on health and wellness, bringing in $63 billion annually in revenues.
Some of Nooyi's accomplishments include managing the acquisition of Quaker Oats, implementing a new strategy for healthier drinks and snacks, and creating "Performance with a Purpose," Pepsi's environmental committment.
Nooyi, who is originally from India, said that her mother had a huge impact on her success, reports Business Insider.
"Even though my mother didn't work and didn't go to college, she lived a life vicariously through her daughters," Nooyi told Business Insider. "So she gave us that confidence to be whatever we wanted to be. That was an incredibly formative experience in my youth."
Ginni Rometty became IBM's first female CEO in 2012, according to Forbes.
Rometty has led initiatives like cloud computing technology and the advanced artificial intelligence, "Watson," reports Forbes.
Even though IBM’s revenues had been in decline over three years, the company recently reported a revenue increase from 2016 to 2017.
“During 2017, we strengthened our position as the leading enterprise cloud provider and established IBM as the blockchain leader for business,” Rometty said in a news release. “Looking ahead, we are uniquely positioned to help clients use data and AI to build smarter businesses.”
Bringing in $155 billion in revenue, GM CEO Mary Barra is currently ranked first on Fortune's list of the most powerful women in business.
Just after Barra became CEO, GM faced one of its greatest crises in its history: 30 million vehicles had to be recalled after a faulty ignition switch was blamed for 74 deaths and 126 injuries.
Barra was able to bounce back to a $500 million net revenue increase in 2014.
Barra, who is married with two children, has spoken to how she balances managing a multibillion-dollar auto company and managing her family:
"A woman leader at GM taught me something 20 years ago," Barra told Business Insider. "She said, 'Would you leave a meeting that ended at 1 to get to the next one if you had that schedule? Would you have any apprehension about going ‘Hey, guys, I need to leave this meeting because I’ve got another meeting’?' I said no. So she said, 'Well, why don’t you do it at five o’clock, because isn’t that next commitment you’ve made just as important?' That has always stuck with me."
Even though Fidelity Investments has been in Abigail Johnson's family for three generations, no one can say she's merely inherited her success. She's fought for it tenaciously.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2004 she tried to oust her father from his position as CEO. The failed coup didn't leave her father, Edward "Ned" Johnson III, with any hard feelings, and she eventually did succeed him as CEO in 2014.
Abigail Johnson has already made major changes in the company, including cutting costs and overhauling leadership positions.
Johnson told Forbes that a lot of companies are "built around men," making it harder for women to be successful. But she also said that finance is a good career for women because it eliminates some biases.
“Your results are very quantifiable, and nobody can take those results away from you. They are yours," she told Forbes. "All of that I think is very good for women."
As Google's 16th employee, Susan Wojcicki has been with the company from the ground floor — the garage floor even — as she worked out of her garage in Silicon Valley for the first several months, reports Inc.
She remained an integral part of Google's team and eventually led the company to acquire YouTube in 2006. She has been CEO of YouTube since 2014.
Wojcicki is the mother of five kids.
"Having the sum of both of those things going on in my life makes me a better mom at the end of the day," she told Inc. "And I think it gives me really important perspectives in the workplace as well."
Rosalind Brewer is the chief operating officer of Starbucks and the former CEO of Sam’s Club, making her the first African-American and the first female COO of Starbucks, and the first African-American to lead a Walmart division.
Diversity is a major priority for Brewer, as the former CEO of Sam's Club. In 2015, she faced social-media backlash and allegations of racism when she criticized a supplier board for being composed exclusively of white men.
"For years, we've asked our suppliers to prioritize the talent and diversity of their sales teams calling on our company," Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon wrote in Brewer's defense. "Roz was simply trying to reiterate that we believe diverse and inclusive teams make for a stronger business. That's all there is to it and I support that important ideal."
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
In 2015, Hewlet-Packard split into two companies: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, of which Meg Whitman is CEO, and HP Inc.
But this isn't Whitman's CEO debut. She was CEO of online auction site eBay for 10 years.
In November 2017, Whitman announced that she planned to step down as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in order to become CEO of a new venture backed by Jeffrey Katzenberg, according to Variety.com. Whitman said that when she was approached by Katzenberg, she considered his pitch “one of the most timely and disruptive of ideas that I’ve come across in my career, and I’ve looked at thousands of start-ups.”
Whitman left for her new role in February.
For Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell's Soup, breaking the glass ceiling runs in the family.
CNN reports that Morrison's sister, Maggie Wilderotter, is also the CEO of a company, Frontier Communications.
Reportedly, Morrison and her sister were pushed to success by their parents. CNN says that Morrison's father took her to work with him before it was common practice. Her mother didn't work outside the home at the time, but she still had a profound influence.
"My mother taught us that ambition is part of femininity and really taught us to have substance but also style," Morrison told CNN.
Facebook's CEO is Mark Zuckerberg, but its COO deserves an honorable mention.
Sheryl Sandberg was brought over to Facebook from Google in 2008. She is also a philanthropist and a best-selling author. Her book, "Lean In," deals with the struggles of women in the workplace and how to overcome those barriers.
“I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while men sitting next to me are not," Sandberg writes in her book. "But now I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up. I have learned to sit at the table.”
Sandberg was widowed in 2015, with the sudden death of her husband, Dave Goldberg.
"I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning," Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post about her husband's death. "When I can, I want to choose life and meaning."
Safra A. Catz became co-CEO of Oracle in September 2014 and is one of the world’s highest-paid female executives, according to Forbes. During her time as co-CEO, Oracle closed its gender pay gap by paying Catz the same amount as co-CEO Mark Hurd, reported YourStory.
Last October, Catz was in Utah for the Women Tech Council’s 10th annual awards program.
See Catalyst's list of Women CEOs of the S&P 500 for more.
Contributing: Lauren Schofield