The Ugly Truth: Women Endure A Harder Road To Becoming CEOs Than Men Do

The Ugly Truth: Women Endure A Harder Road

To Becoming CEOs Than Men Do

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It’s not news that the percentage of women taking over the C-suite in America is crawling along. A vast majority of women and men concur that gender does not play a role in one’s ability to lead a business. But there’s one glaring reason that that simply is not the case, and it’s the burden of biology.

Which baby do you nurture?

Men simply are not burdened by this dilemma. Women, on the other hand, conceive, carry and give birth to children. Women’s reproductive window slams shut at the most crucial productive years for building a career. Not to say that women cannot have both – rewarding careers and children – just that, at the ages between mid-twenties and early-forties, it is very difficult to be simultaneously career-focused and successful at child-rearing.

Men working tirelessly on their career aspirations have their partner’s unquestioned support. Maybe the day will arrive when scientists figure out a way to safely and effectively freeze eggs so that they are as good as sperm, made fresh on a daily basis. Until then, the great neutralizer of women and men being able to compete on a level playing field will remain on hold. Understandably, few women are reaching the upper echelons of corporate leadership.  

Reaching the elusive pinnacle

Few women ascend to the top. Approximately only 25 companies in the Fortune 500 are run by women. 20 years ago, there were no female CEOs in the Fortune 500. Since then, women have only made slight progress in obtaining those authoritative roles. 

The low number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 may be due to gender stereotypes that pervade the workplace.

Pew’s survey found that 34% of the respondents believed that male executives are better than women at assessing risk. According to a study conducted by Pew Research Centera significant portion thought that men would do a better job at leading technology, finance, oil and gas companies. Approximately four in ten Americans point to a double standard for women seeking to climb to the highest levels of politics or business, where they must do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves.

Perceptions in political leadership…

Women are also more likely than men to say that female leaders in both politics and business outperform male leaders on most of the characteristics tested in the survey. The gender gaps in perceptions about political leadership are especially apparent. On traits like compromise, honesty, backbone, persuasion or working for the benefit of all Americans, women are more likely than men to say female leaders do a better job.

A solid majority of men state there aren’t major differences between men and women in these areas. Nonetheless, they are somewhat more likely than women to give a nod to male leaders over female leaders on four of the five political leadership qualities tested in the poll.

Perhaps the answer lies in the gradual realization that equality is our destiny, and that corporate America has to come up with a viable solution that allows 50% of its talent pool to compete for 50% of its leadership positions – a strategy that would substantially improve our position in the global economy.

Did You Know?

– Male CEOs receive an average of $4,438,366.90 more in company compensation than female CEOs do.

– On average, women had more positions prior to their current role – 11 for women and 9 for men.

– Only 54 female CEOs feature in the top 1,000 highest-earning US companies in 2017. In 2014, there were 51 – that’s a measly increase of three more female CEOs in three years.

– There are only three female CEOs in the top 50: Mary Barra (General Motors), Indra K. Nooyi (PepsiCo), and Virginia Rometty (IBM).

– Both male and female CEOs obtained  their current executive position at the average age of 51.

– The top 54 companies run by male CEOs rank 480 places higher on average than those run by women – 29 for men, compared to 509 for women.

– Both genders had a heavy representation of MBA degrees, with 25 of the women and 21 of the men holding one. Outside of MBAs, engineering degrees were the most popular – 10 women touted them, and 13 men did.

Stephen Doyle

"Steve Doyle, originally from Philadelphia, holds a B.A. Professional Writing from Penn State University. He's a blogger, short-story writer and has created several hundred marketing content pieces for clients such as: JC Ehrlich, Ambius, Henckels & McCoy, DDC Group, Burns Logistics Solutions, Inc., etc. Steve is an award-winning, highly skilled communicator who loves to help get others' stories told in as an engaging manner as possible."

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