Few women reach executive rank

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Women make up 46.9 percent of the labor force, but that number shrinks drastically when counting women who hold executive positions.

Diane Schwenke, the CEO of Grand Junction's Chamber of Commerce, worked hard to make it to the top.

“I was the first female to hold jobs in three of my last four positions, so it just was a natural progression for me," Schwenke.

Schwenke feels a woman's state of mind may limit her when it comes to obtaining a higher position in the workforce.

“Oh I did drop out of the workforce for three or four years to raise my children, so now I don't deserve that corner office, I’ve fallen behind my male colleagues, I shouldn't ask for it-- that comes into play," explained Schwenke.

However, for some Grand Valley business women, the corporate world wasn't for them.

Christy Hovland, was an executive for years and for her, it wasn't about hitting a glass ceiling in the corporate arena. It was about passion for what she did. Hovland followed her heart and opened up Cherry Street Chocolates.

“For me, it's about following my heart and what I want to do with my life, and I've always had this crazy love of chocolate," said Hovland.

Christy Prickett did not feel she was advancing in her career at a hospital, and when holidays came around, Prickett wasn't able to take off work. That is when she decided being her own boss was the best decision for her and her family.

“I just don't think that the executives see family as important," said Prickett.

Schwenke sees it differently. She sees it as the beginning of a new cycle for women to hold more powerful positions in corporate America.

“A new cycle of young professional women that will get on that career path, find the way to manage as some of those CEOs actually of that 14 percent are finding ways to do that," said Schwenke.

If you're interested in taking on a leadership role in Mesa County, then the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce may be a place to start.

They will be selecting 14 to 19 people for their leadership program to learn more about the community outside of the office and work with other ambassadors in the valley.

They are currently accepting applications through the month of May for their program, and it is open to men and women.

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