What Prevents Female Executives from Reaching the Top?
62 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2016 Last revised: 16 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 15, 2017
Exceptionally rich data from Sweden makes it possible to study the gender gap in executives’ career progression and to investigate its causes. In their forties, female executives are about one-half as likely to be large-company CEOs and about one-third less likely to be high earners than males. Abilities, skills, and education likely do not explain these gaps because female executives appear better qualified than males. Instead, slow career progression in the five years after the first childbirth explains most of the female disadvantage. During this period, female executives work on average shorter hours than males and are more often absent from work. These results suggest that aspiring women may not reach the executive suite without trading off family life.
JEL Classification: G34, J16; J24; J31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation