It’s a well-known fact that women face discrimination while at work. But it turns out that the biases go all the way to the very top of the business ladder.
A new study has shown that female CEOs tend to have shorter tenures and receive less pay. Meanwhile, they companies tend to be worth less on the stock market, even when those companies are just as profitable as rivals led by male execs.
“This research should be eye-opening to people, and I hope they take a closer look," said Michael Holmes, one of the authors of the study, which did a meta-analysis of 158 other studies that analyzed the influence of gender on the careers of CEOS in the United States. "We hope this sets the record straight on past research - some of which has produced conflicting results - and now people can build on this aggregation of findings."
One of their deflating findings was that only 5.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs in the year 2017. Yep, a paltry 5.4 percent. And that was the most equitable year yet.
"The situation for women leaders is probably worse than you think right now," Holmes added. "Many women who become CEOs are absolute rock stars. They have graduated from elite schools and risen through the corporate ranks faster, but they get paid less, are less likely to be a firm's board chair, have shorter tenures in the job and are more likely to lead distressed firms.”
The study's authors hypothesize that these firms struggle because stock-market analysts and investors don't have much experience with female CEOs. Therefore, they don’t see women as leaders. This means that actual experience matters less than the perceptions of market insiders.
So how do we fix it? Well, that’s a job for another study.