The University Network

Women CEOs Are 45 Percent More Likely To Be Fired

A new report from researchers at the University of Alabama (UA) shows that female CEOs are more likely to be fired than their male counterparts, even if they are doing a good job.

These recent findings reflect a negative trend regarding women’s power in the workplace.

In the past year alone, the number of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies dropped from 6.2 to 4.8 percent.

The feminist movement of the 1960s sparked an upsurge of women landing jobs in the professional world, which has ultimately led to women making up 47 percent of the U.S. workforce today.

But women are still significantly underrepresented in leadership roles, and these new findings are not encouraging.

The researchers found that female CEOs are nearly 45 percent more likely than male CEOs to be let go from their firms, even if they are performing well. And while leading positive improvements at a firm often protects men from losing their job, the same is not guaranteed for female leaders.

“Dismissing the CEO is usually viewed as evidence of good corporate governance as it suggests that the board is taking its monitoring role seriously, however our research reveals there are invisible, but serious, gender biases in how the board evaluates CEOs and its decision to retain or fire particular CEOs,” Sandra Mortal, an associate professor in the UA Culverhouse College of Business and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

The researchers were inclined to conduct the study because consulting companies and the press had raised concerns about female CEOs being fired at higher rates than men, according to Vishal Gupta, an associate professor at UA Culverhouse and co-author of the study.

To examine whether gender influences the likelihood of a firm dismissing its CEO, the researchers conducted rigorous research and used cutting-edge econometrics tools.

The researchers pulled out media coverage of times when CEOs departed from a company between the years 2000 and 2014. They then used data for those years stored in Execucomp and BoardEx, which hold data for thousands of large and publicly-traded firms, to gather each person’s age and company affiliation to determine the likelihood of the person leaving voluntarily.

They found that women are disproportionately pushed out of their leadership roles.

“The results of this study point to the extra pressure and scrutiny directed at women in senior leadership positions relative to their male counterparts,” Gupta said in a statement. “This is problematic because women face difficult barriers and obstacles in breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling, but they also seem to continue to face additional challenges even after reaching the top of the corporate hierarchy.”