Why are There so Few Women in Executive Positions? An Analysis of Gender Differences in the Life-Cycle of Executive Employment

27 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2015

See all articles by Anders Frederiksen

Anders Frederiksen

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Timothy Halliday

University of Hawaii - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

"Glass ceilings" and "sticky floors" are typical explanations for the low representation of women in top executive positions, but a focus on gender differences in promotions provides only a partial explanation. We consider the life-cycle of executive employment, which allows for a full characterization of the gender composition of executive management. We establish that there are few women in executive management because they have lower levels of human capital, are underrepresented in lower-level jobs, and are less likely to be perceived as high-productivity employees. We do not find that women have uniformly unfavorable promotion and demotion probabilities.

Keywords: discrimination, dynamics, gender

JEL Classification: J71, J62

Suggested Citation

Frederiksen, Anders and Halliday, Timothy, Why are There so Few Women in Executive Positions? An Analysis of Gender Differences in the Life-Cycle of Executive Employment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8797. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2558396

Anders Frederiksen (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Timothy Halliday

University of Hawaii - Department of Economics ( email )

Honolulu, HI 96822
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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