53 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2016 Last revised: 3 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 1, 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 male executives. 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 male executives and are more often absent from work. These results suggest that aspiring women may not reach the executive site without trading off family life.
JEL Classification: G34, J16; J24; J31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Keloharju, Matti and Knüpfer, Samuli and Tåg, Joacim, What Prevents Female Executives from Reaching the Top? (September 1, 2017). 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
By Renee Adams