Even women who have cracked the glass ceiling and become corporate CEOs still face unequal treatment, according to new research conducted at Florida State University (FSU).
Female CEOs are paid less money than their male counterparts, just as they are at every other level in many companies. Statistically, they do not last as long at the helm of their companies. Female CEOs do not double as corporate board chairs, as many male CEOs do, meaning they have less power within their companies. Women are also more often chosen to run companies that are in bad shape. They constitute a roll of the dice for the board that hires them. If they fail, the failure can be attributed to gender, not that the company was coming apart at the seams.
Disturbingly, investors appear to shy away from stocks featuring women executives, regardless of company performance. Additionally, female CEOs are rare. Fewer than six percent of Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs at last count, that being the all-time percentage.
What is at issue is not quality of leadership or management, but the biases that are woven throughout corporate culture. Men have always led businesses and therefore, that is what boards that hire CEOs are most comfortable with. However, women who rise to this level usually exceed the credentials of their male counterparts. They attended the best schools, apprenticed at the right organizations, and acquired more skills than most top managers.
About the Report
The FSU report says that companies hire CEOs based on tradition and consider men to make the best leaders because they have the qualities prized in American business, consisting of ruthlessness, the willingness to inflict pain up and down their organizations, and an aggressive attitude about taking frightening risks within the company.
The stereotype of women, by contrast, is that they are nurturing caretakers. Women typically come to leadership later, which gives men the advantage, making women with strong CEO qualities harder to find. The report analyzed 158 previous studies. Their study has important implications not just for women in executive positions, but also women who feel that they have been discriminated in their bid to fill the top positions at companies.
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