Working Paper No. 1111

What Prevents Female Executives from Reaching the Top?

Published: February 18, 2016, revised September 2017 and March 2018Pages: 68Keywords: 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 studying the gender gap in executives’ career progression and investigating its causes possible. In their 40s, female executives are about 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. Their responses to childbirth are invariant to their career potential relative to their partners. These results suggest aspiring women may not reach the executive suite 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

Interdisciplinary European Studies

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This is the first book in the Interdisciplinary European Studies collection. This volume provides an interdisciplinary perspective on trust in the EU from the vantage point of political science, law and economics. Lars Oxelheim, Lund University and affiliated to IFN, is one of the authors.

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