What Prevents Women from Reaching the Top?

57 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2016 Last revised: 1 Mar 2019

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

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

Joacim Tåg

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Date Written: February 27, 2019

Abstract

We use exceptionally rich data on all business, economics, and engineering graduates in Sweden to study women’s career progression and its causes. A wide range of observables do not explain the lack of women in top executive positions. Instead, slow career progression in the five years after the first childbirth substantially contributes to the female disadvantage. During this period, women work on average shorter hours than men and are more often absent from work. Among the minority of graduates who eventually reach an executive position, women appear to be better qualified than men. Aspiring women may thus need to outperform men to overcome the barriers related to family life.

Keywords: CEOs, top executives, gender gap, career, 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 27, 2019). 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

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

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

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

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