Women CEOs are much more likely than male CEOs to be dismissed, even when the women are performing well, according to research from The University of Alabama.
Female CEOs are about 45 per cent more likely than male CEOs to be dismissed from their firms. Also, while performance improvements protect male CEOs from dismissal, they do not protect female CEOs, according to the study of public firms in the United States.
‘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,’ said Dr. Sandra Mortal, co-author and associate professor in the UA Culverhouse College of Business.
The research did not examine whether the boards are aware of their biases in dismissing women CEOs.
The research started because consulting companies, along with the popular and business press, have raised concerns about the higher incidence of dismissals among women CEOs compared to men. The researchers wanted to determine through rigorous statistical research and cutting-edge econometrics tools if dismissals are more common among women CEOs.
The results of this study point to the extra pressure and scrutiny directed at women in senior leadership positions relative to their male counterparts. 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.