4 Reasons Why So Few Women Are CEOs in Top Companies
Business + Economy

4 Reasons Why So Few Women Are CEOs in Top Companies


Although companies led by women perform three times better than the S&P 500, only 4 percent of the CEOs of the current Fortune 500 are female.

The number is especially baffling when you consider that just more than half of all management, professional and related positions (51.5 percent) are held by women, according to the women’s research firm, Catalyst.

A new report from LeanIn and McKinsey finds that women face a number of barriers climbing the ladder to the C-Suite. One example: For every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted.

Related: 20 Groundbreaking American Women

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

1. As you go up the corporate ladder, there are fewer women available to promote. Women comprise just under half of all entry-level workers, but by the senior vice president level, they represent less than a quarter of workers.

Corporate Gender Representation

2. Women get more pushback when they negotiate. While conventional wisdom holds that women don’t get promotions and raises because they’re not asking for them, this report finds that women are more likely than men to lobby for more money or responsibility. However, they’re less likely to be promoted and 30 percent are more likely to receive negative feedback during those negotiations.


3. Women are less likely to be sponsored by senior leaders. Perhaps because women are more likely to have a mostly female business network, they’re less likely to have a sponsor within the company that can help them advance.

Access to Senior Leaders

4. Fewer women want the top gig. Women not only think it’s less likely that they’ll be able to become a top executive, but they also see fewer benefits to landing that role. They’re also more likely to worry about managing both work and family commitments.