What happens to a woman’s career trajectory when her job is family-friendly? The results have not been what policy makers expected.
In their work lives, Swedish women receive generous paid maternity leave and and can opt for flexible work hours. Politically, the Swedish Parliament has gender balance as do 2 major Swedish political parties’ electoral slates. In France, 17 of President Hollande’s 34 cabinet ministers are female and the French Constitution was amended in 2010 to mandate corporate and public gender equality. In France, Sweden and across the EU, there is a commitment to end gender inequality.
And yet, in France and Sweden, in private industry, men are in charge. Among France’s 87 universities, only 8 presidents are female. In large French law firms, a vast minority of the partners are female. Even when their boards implement gender balance quotas, large corporations have few, if any, females CEOs.
Social scientists are not sure why women are not rising to the top when the work world has made it easier to combine work and family. One theory is children. When labor force participation enables women to divide their time and energy between work and the family, they select the balance. As a result, many do not become the professional alpha women who can compete against committed males who rise to the top.
Monday Gender Issues Posts
Sources and Resources: This excellent discussion of “The Plight of the Alpha Female” appeared recently in the City Journal while this paper, “Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?” presents details on the the surprising results of the Swedish family-friendly work environment. Also, you might want to look at an avalanche of gender stats and ideas in this most recent 300+ page OECD report, “Closing the Gender Gap.”
Posted by: adminEcon
Tags: alpha females, Claudia Goldin, feminism, flextime, France, French Constitution, gender gap, glass ceiling, Kay Hymowitz, Marissa Mayer, President Hollande, Sheryl Sandberg, Sweden, work life balance
Headline from CNN Money: “New Yahoo CEO Mayer is Pregnant”
- 1992: The title of a male CEO’s speech that was reprinted in the Christian Science Monitor: “A Pregnant CEO: In Whose Lifetime?” (Implying the unlikelihood.)
- 2012: From Marissa Mayer, new Yahoo CEO: Demonstrating no concern that she was pregnant, the Yahoo Board, ”…showed their evolved thinking.”
- From The Atlantic: “What will be really, really fantastic is when someone like Mayer can be a pregnant CEO–rather than, you know, A Pregnant CEO.
- From writer, Rebecca Traister: ”It is great that Marissa Mayer is pregnant, but the intensity of reaction is slightly depressing. Kind of as if they’d hired a yeti.”
In 1980, there were no female CEOs in the Fortune 100 list.
As of July 17, 2012, there were 20 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 list. Here are the top 10, the firm, the Fortune rank:
- Meg Whitman (HP #10);
- Virginia Rometty (IBM #19);
- Patricia A Woertz (Archer Daniels Midland Company #28);
- Indra Nooyi (Pepsico, Inc. #41)
- Angela F. Braly (WellPoint, Inc. #45)
- Irene B. Rosenfeld (Kraft Foods Inc. #50)
- Ellen J. Kullman (DuPont #72)
- Carol M. Meyrowitz (The TJX Companies, Inc. #125)
- Ursula M. Burns (Xerox Corporation #127)
- Sheri S. McCoy (Avon Products Inc. #234)
Where does all of this take us?
To optimizing all human capital…
“In general, the best clue to a nation’s growth and development potential is the status and role of women.” (from Harvard’s David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, p. 413).
Catalyst is a good source for female CEO info, this NBER paper discusses the changing face of all CEOs, and here is the CS Monitor speech from 1992 on the dearth of female executives.
For more on Marissa Mayer, to get to know Yahoo’s new CEO, this list of 11 facts about her was fun to read and here is an Atlantic article and one from Salon.