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Study: Exec Women Actually Earn More

  • On her way up.The Find: Women who do manage to rise high enough to look back at the broken glass ceiling over their shoulder actually make more than their male counterparts, a new study finds.
  • The Source: New research from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.
The Takeaway: While some commentators are fretting that the glass ceiling that prevents women from reaching the top posts in business is thick and getting thicker, extensive analysis of compensation data by three professors at the Tepper School tells a different story. Few women may crack the barriers that block their ascent, but the ones that do actually get paid on average $100,000 a year more than their male colleagues.

Professors Robert A. Miller, George-Levi Gayle and Limor Golan crunched the data concerning the career paths and compensation of 16,000 executives over a 14 year period. Only five percent of their sample was female (and only two percent of those who occupied CEO, president and chairman jobs were female) but for this small group who did manage to reach the top, education and tenure predict compensation more accurately than gender. Having an advanced degree rather than being male is what pays: "Ph.D. and MBA graduates earned a total of about $300,000 more per year than executives with only an undergraduate degree."

So why do the researchers believe so few women end up in the c-suite? Miller explains: "Women aren't climbing as many rungs on the executive ladder because they are more likely than males to retire earlier or switch careers," and concludes:

Although women may still be likely to face gender discrimination through unpleasant work environments or tougher, less rewarding assignments, our results find that there does appear to be equal pay and equal opportunity for women if they stay in the workforce and get to the executive level.
The Question: Two percent is pretty dismal; is it just women's preferences that prevent more of them from becoming CEOs or chairwomen?

(Image of business woman on her way up by mirimcfly, CC 2.0)

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