Where are the Women? 

It's 2012. Why aren't there more women in Richmond's powerful elite?

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Tonya Mallory, founder, president and chief executive of Health Diagnostic Laboratory, has taken Richmond by storm.

A down-to-earth Doswell native, Mallory (No. 46) founded her company in 2009 to offer advanced testing options to physicians that help them detect and treat hidden, chronic conditions. In three years the company has gone from start-up to behemoth, employing more than 500 people and raking in a projected $250 million this year.

Financial success wasn't enough for Mallory, who immediately dove into philanthropic and civic efforts. the company is a supporter of the American Heart Association and gave more than $2 million to the Science Museum of Virginia last year. And Mallory serves on a few of Mayor Jones' boards.

In Richmond, Mallory's an anomaly. Not because she's a wildly successful entrepreneur or a munificent philanthropist. It's because she's a powerful woman.

It's 2012. Where are the rest of the women?

"I do think that women are probably underrepresented on the Power List," says Margaret Lewis (No. 9), Capital Division president for HCA. "But it may be how we're defining power. Because power wears many different faces."

While they may not hold the title of chief executive, "there are a lot of women who hold pretty significant leadership and powerful roles within their own industry," Lewis says. As examples, she points specifically to top female doctors, lawyers and health care executives; to entrepreneurs such as Gail Johnson, chief executive of Rainbow Station day cares; to Katherine Wintsch, a vice president at the Martin Agency.

Katherine Busser (No. 14), executive vice president at Capital One, mentions leaders such as Lyn McDermid, chief information officer at Dominion and chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond board, and Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond.

Women often are more comfortable working behind the scenes, Busser observes. "Influence isn't always about being on the front page of the paper," she says, but about those "quiet conversations" that result in big change.

"I think they influence what Richmond's all about. They just don't control the budget," Lewis says. How many years will it take before women are equally represented at the highest corporate levels? Lewis laughs. "It always still amazes me that it's still a struggle," she says, adding, "The trend is increasing, but the pace still seems to be glacial at best." — Melissa Scott Sinclair

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