Currently there are only 35 women CEOs in the Fortune 1000. But the Wall Street Journal reports that that number may double by 2017 as more and more companies hire women with the potential to one day run the joint.

All this talk about diversity is not for nothing, it seems. Investors have been pressuring boards to hire diverse management teams and as a result, there are a number of “women in waiting,” hovering just below the CEO spot, and ready to step up when opportunity knocks.

There is at least one female executive officer in 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies, though, unfortunately, women comprise just 14 percent of executive officers overall. What’s more, 24 percent of senior vice presidents at large companies are women, according to a study by McKinsey & Co for the Wall Street Journal.

“The most important thing companies can do to help women succeed in high-level positions is have a sufficient number to make the C-suite comfortable for women,” says Janet Langford-Kelly, GC of ConocoPhillips and Transformative Leadership Award honoree.  ”Companies have to recognize that it takes a certain density of representation before women feel comfortable acting like women, and so, before the true advantages of diversity can be achieved.”

The Wall Street Journal highlighted 10 key players in the pipeline who are likely to be chosen to lead a Fortune 1000 company in the next five years. Their picks  include Jan Fields, president of McDonald’s USA; Rosalind Brewer, president of Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club and Julianna Chugg, a senior vice president at General Mills.

InsideCounsel is also dedicated to filling the pipeline with strong, capable women, and recognizing the achievements of those who are already there. Through Project 5/165, we help promote women general counsel and hope that within five years one-third, or 165, of Fortune 500 GCs will be women. Thus, 5/165. You can receive updates on the project by subscribing to the newsletter here.