The number of female CEOs in big companies is declining
There are 22 fewer women on CEO’s positions at S&P 500 companies, then there were in 2018.
The most notable departures were Indra Nooyi, who left her post at PepsiCo, and Denise Morrison, who parted with Campbell Soup. Whether this is a long-term trend, threatening the advancement of female directors, or just this year’s development remains to be seen. However, the authors of the Corporate Board’s research believe that the situation “is even more troublesome when read in conjunction with the recent academic research indicating that activist investors are more likely to target female CEOs because of the gender stereotypes that still influence investment managers”.
Researchers are also concerned about the lack of older female CEOs. Notably, there are no women CEOs over 63 years old - the “bar” for men is much higher. Les Wexner and Warren Buffet are in their eighties. Large companies are also proving to be lacking in enthusiasm about hiring female CEOs. Out of 59 of 2019 hired officer’s only one is woman - Kathy Warden, 47, CEO of Northrop Grumman.
This decline is even more notable in contrast with the growth in the last few years. In 2012 there were 20 female CEOs - by 2017 the number grew to 27.