What Prevents Women from Reaching the Top?

46 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2016 Last revised: 10 Feb 2022

See all articles by Matti Keloharju

Matti Keloharju

Aalto University School of Business; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Samuli Knüpfer

Aalto University School of Business; BI Norwegian Business School; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Joacim Tåg

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Date Written: February 7, 2022

Abstract

We use rich data on all business, economics, and engineering graduates in Sweden to study the lack of women among CEOs. A comprehensive battery of graduates’ characteristics explains 40% of the gender gaps in CEO appointments, and 60% among graduates with children. The explanatory power mostly comes from absences and unemployment, which are about twice as likely for women as men. These gender differences increase following childbirth, and they persist in the long run. We present and discuss potential explanations to the explained and remaining gaps. Although the large unexplained share makes it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason for the gender gap in CEO appointments, the large contribution of labor market attachment to the explained share suggests work-family trade-offs are an important part of the story.

Keywords: CEOs, gender gap, labor market attachment, family, qualifications

JEL Classification: G34; J16; J24; J31

Suggested Citation

Keloharju, Matti and Knüpfer, Samuli and Tåg, Joacim, What Prevents Women from Reaching the Top? (February 7, 2022). IFN Working Paper No. 1111, Harvard Business School Research Paper Series No. 16-092, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2730207 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2730207

Matti Keloharju (Contact Author)

Aalto University School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
AALTO, FI-00076
Finland

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Samuli Knüpfer

Aalto University School of Business

P.O. Box 21210
AALTO, 00076
Finland

HOME PAGE: http://www.samuliknupfer.com

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Joacim Tåg

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
2,105
Abstract Views
13,290
rank
10,415
PlumX Metrics