Of course, the people behind the project wondered why.
In a follow-up article at HBR, the authors reveal that only 29, or 1.5%, of the 2,000 CEOs assessed in the project were female — so it was actually not a huge surprise to them when only one ended up in the top 100.
After re-analysing the data, they speculated on a few patterns that might explain this lack of female representation at the top of the top-performing companies:
- Women still aren’t treated as equals within their companies:The data showed that female executives were twice as likely as their male counterparts to have been selected from outside the company, indicating that perhaps women need to go outside in order to get ahead.
- Women are more frequently found in certain industries: Female CEOs are more prevalent in the consumer goods and media industries, which have been open to high-level women for longer than companies in technology and science, and are generally smaller.
- Women just need more time: Five times more women are on the Fortune 500 list versus 10 years ago, and that exponential growth should continue. Many current female CEOs have only recently been appointed; it’s possible that executive-level women just need more time “to build their legacies.”
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