Women CEOs See Compensation Whacked By More Than Their Male Counterparts

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Were female business leaders disproportionately punished for financial crisis performance?That’s what a new survey seems to say: women CEOs took a bigger pay hit than men in 2008.

Corporate Library: Total realised compensation for female CEOs declined by a median of 18.5 per cent between 2007 and 2008 compared to only 6.1 per cent for male CEOs. (realised compensation includes the value realised on the exercise of options and vesting of other equity.)

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • On average, female CEOs earned just 58 per cent of what males earned in realised compensation (78 per cent at the median).
  • On average, male CEOs’ discretionary bonuses were more than 3.5 times larger than female CEOs, and males’ perquisite payments were nearly twice the amount received by females.
  • At the median, female CEOs earned $40,000 more in base salary than male CEOs.
  • Martine A. Rothblatt of United Therapeutics Corporation was the only female CEO among the top 150 earners of 2008 in total realised compensation.

“Comparisons between male and female pay can be complicated,” said Research Associate Greg Ruel, author of the report in a statement. “Though the female sample is much smaller than the male sample, there are nonetheless notable differences in the way male and female CEOs are compensated.”

That as just 15 of 500 Fortune 500 CEOs are female, and only five women made it to the magazine’s new “40 Under 40” list of the most powerful young names in business.

Some are trying to do somethng about it. For example, the New York Times reports today that Naissance Capital, a Zurich investment company, will start the Women’s Leadership Fund in January, which will invest in companies whose boards include women. It also plans to take minority stakes in companies without women on their boards and to use its ownership to encourage changes.

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