Benefits and Compensation

Study Finds Women Gaining Ground as Chief Executives

A recent study conducted by Equilar of CEO turnover in the S&P 1500 has found that women are finding some foothold in the traditionally male-dominated roles of CEO.

A March 2011 study by Catalyst found that while women comprise nearly half (46.7 percent) of the U.S. workforce, they make up only 2.2 percent of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. However, Equilar’s recent results show some change to that trend.

The study, conducted between 2007 and 2010, identified 381 S&P 1500 companies that had a change in CEO between 2007 and 2009. An examination of the genders of the departing CEOs found that while only 1.4 percent of the departing CEOs were female, 4.8 percent of the incoming CEOs were women.

To put this in perspective, 17 companies rehired a woman for a previous CEO position held by a man, while only 2 female CEOs were replaced by males. (There was only one company where a female CEO replaced another female CEO).

Although this study is limited in scope, it is an important benchmark to monitor over the next few years, as we continue to study the market share of female S&P top earners.