Working Paper No. 1111

What Prevents Female Executives from Reaching the Top?

Published: February 18, 2016, revised September 1, 2017Pages: 53Keywords: CEOs; Compensation; Discrimination; Executives; Gender differencesJEL-codes: G34; J16; J24; J31

What Prevents Female Executives from Reaching the Top? Matti Keloharju, Samuli Knüpfer and Joacim Tåg


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.

 

Joacim Tåg

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Ph: +46 8 665 4524
joacim.tag@ifn.se

Matti Keloharju

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Ph: +358 40 353 8043
matti.keloharju@aalto.fi

An Agenda for Europe

Institutional Reform for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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The authors of this book, Niklas Elert, Magnus Henrekson and Mikael Stenkula, advise the economies of the European Union to become more entrepreneurial in promoting innovation and economic growth. The authors propose a reform strategy with respect to several aspects to achieve this goal.

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