​We Could Stand to Have More Female Executives to Overpay


11 of the 200 highest paid chief executives in the United States are women. Those stats are just slightly better than that of the top 1000 executives, of which 4.9% are women. While women at the top are clearly and crazily underrepresented, the gender pay gap doesn’t hit them quite as hard as the average.

Claire Cain Miller at the New York Times has an in-depth piece looking at women in executive roles, how much they’re making, and how we can get more women in the top positions. Miller points out that while the median pay for women on the top 200 CEOs list (assembled by Equilar) is $15.7 million (a number that I still can’t really begin to fathom) and $1.6 million less than the median for men, the data on women was too sparse to be conclusive. There simply weren’t enough women. Sigh.

Miller came up with quite the equation for women to become top brass:

For a woman whose career goal is to make scads of money, here are the basics: Get a job in tech, start at the highest-level job possible, work your way up to run a piece of the company’s business (meaning, don’t become the general counsel or head of human resources), work for a company with women on its board or among the chief-level executives known as the C-suite — and whatever you do, don’t quit.

Oh okay!

But according to Miller, studies have shown that the pay gap begins to dissipate as women rise through the ranks. In fact, while many women with executive roles are paid less than men, when adjusted for age and years of experience one study found women, who are becoming executives at younger ages, are actually paid more.

One of those studies, written in 2011 by George-Levi Gayle of Washington University with Limor Golan and Robert A. Miller, when all three economists were at Carnegie Mellon, analyzed the Standard & Poor’s ExecuComp database of 2,818 companies and 30,614 executives, and demographic information from Marquis Who’s Who. The other study, by Marianne Bertrand of the University of Chicago and Kevin F. Hallock of Cornell, found women in the executive ranks earned about 45 percent less than their male counterparts, but the gap was almost entirely explained by the fact that the women tended to be younger and to run smaller companies.

After pointing out that women executives also earn up to 20% more in companies where a women presides over the board or is the chief executive, the piece alludes to the fact that tech is where it’s at. Or, you know, where it should be at. Tech jobs can provide the stability while also allowing for flexibility for things like child-care, which women executives spend at least twice as much time on than male counterparts.

Whereas finance and business have very demanding and rigid structures, tech can maintain the demanding part while being far more amenable to a diversity of lifestyles and schedules. Besides, the median pay for tech chiefs is $17.6 million as opposed to the $15.9 that men make. Seems like a promising path, right?

Now if only we could get that pesky Google to hire more than 30% women.

Image via Getty.

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