For every $1m increase in the business, a male CEO received an extra $17,150 in incentive compensation, but a woman got $1,670. A 1% increase in the value of the company meant that a male CEO’s wealth soared 44%; that of his female counterpart crept higher by 13%. A 1% decline in the value of the company meant that the incentive compensation of a female CEO fell by 63%; that of a male CEO dropped by only a third.
Researchers also have identified a phenomenon they have dubbed the “glass cliff”: an equivalent to the all-too-well-known glass ceiling. It refers to what happens when women are set up to fail: when they are appointed to take on leadership roles that have a greater risk of failure.
Why has it been so tough for women to reach the role of CEO, whether of a company or of USA Inc? Admittedly, when it comes to the White House there are more hoops to jump through: it’s a single job, and candidates have to win the support of a majority of all Americans, in elections that happen once every four years.
Theoretically, at least, it should be simpler for women to reach the corner offices of US corporations. It has been decades since they donned a feminine version of business suits (remember those silk shirts with little bow ties at the neck? Or the jackets with the padded shoulders?) and set off to conquer corporate America.
But if you look at the data, women still remain eerily absent from the C-suite, running only 22 of the companies in the Fortune 500.