Home / News / Article


May 31 2017

New Report: Women CEOs Make More Than Men

via Forbes
by Karin Agness

Americans are used to headline after headline about the gender pay gap when it shows men earn more, on average, than women. Feminists have even created a holiday for it—Equal Pay Day—to supposedly mark how far women must work into the next year to make up for the difference in what men earned in the previous year.

But what happens when it is reversed?

Comparing median compensation packages of S&P 500 leaders who held the job for a year, 21 female CEOs received a median of $13.8 million compared to the $11.6 million median earned by the 382 male CEOs last year. This isn’t new—women CEOs have made more than men in six of the past seven years. And three of the 10 highest paid executives are women.

The Wall Street Journal headline is, “Female CEOs Earn More Than Male Chief Executives.”

But just like the wage gap statistic, there is more to the story than the headline suggests. When it comes to female CEO salaries, it is a small pool so doesn’t tell us much more than that some women have been able to earn a lot. Similarly, it is a median comparison and there are many factors that go into CEO pay—for example, performance and whether the CEOs are trying to transform their companies.

The data behind Equal Pay Day’s wage gap statistic is equally important.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just measures median earnings of women and men in full-time wage and salary jobs to calculate the statistic used for the wage gap narrative, not two people in the same job. It does not take into account many of the choices that women and men make—including education, years of experience and hours worked—that influence earnings.

And, in fact, the prominence of the wage gap narrative might be benefiting women CEOs. The Wall Street Journal quotes Robin Ferracone, the head of a company that advises board compensation committees, “Boards don’t want to shortchange their female CEO in today’s environment, when pay equality is such an issue.” They “err on the side of being generous.”

It’s great to see women CEOs doing well and they deserve to be compensated for their contributions. Women should applaud the success of working women at all levels of our economy. Yet we shouldn’t fixate too much on statistics like this one that make good headlines, but don’t tell us much of the story.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
Follow us