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Women CEOs Held to Higher Standard than Male Counterparts

NEW YORK 11/17/2014

Women CEOs among the Fortune 500 are found to have stronger qualifications than their male counterparts, according to a new research report by American Management Association (AMA).

AMA examined the backgrounds and experience of Fortune 500 CEOs, of which 4.8% are women, an all-time high. Female chief executives were found to have earned more rigorous academic degrees, have greater work and life experience when first appointed, and proved more often to have worked their way up internally.


Thirty-six percent of female Fortune 500 CEOs vs. 28% of male CEOs hold undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Moreover, their average undergraduate school ranking is 163.5 as opposed to 167.2 for male Fortune 500 CEOs, based on 2014 Forbes rankings. And women CEOs average graduate school ranking is 18.1 vs. 20.7 for male CEOs, based on 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings.


In terms of work and life experience, the average age for women at appointment is 52.8 years vs. 50.2 for men. It was also discovered that only 20% of female vs. 26% of male CEOs were recruited from outside.


“These statistics seem to show that women are held to different if not more demanding standards than men,” said Jeremey Donovan, Chief Marketing Officer for AMA, who authored the report. “What we learned suggests this applies to women at all levels. For instance, despite the fact that since 1982 more women than men have graduated from U.S. colleges with a bachelor’s degree only 1.1% earn $150,000 or more compared to 4% of men.”


According to Donovan, there are systemic reasons why women find it harder to reach the top corporate levels. “There’s discrimination, conscious or unconscious. Corporate culture is still male dominated, a phenomenon women are surely aware of even if men may not be. And, of course, women take on the role of caregiver more often, whether caring for a young child or an elderly relative. Nevertheless, there’s so much organizations can and need to do to improve the prospects for women to succeed and advance.”


The findings are from the AMA study Women Fortune 500 CEOs—Held to Higher Standards. Download the report here. The report includes ten recommendations for what organizations can do to develop women leaders.


About American Management Association
American Management Association (www.amanet.org) is a world leader in talent development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—learning through doing—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including classroom and live online seminars, e-learning programs, webcasts, webinars, podcasts, corporate and government solutions, business books and research. Organizations worldwide, including the majority of the Fortune 500, turn to AMA as their trusted partner in professional development and draw upon its experience to enhance skills, abilities and knowledge with noticeable results from day one.

AMA is one of the most widely recognized leaders in business training, having provided corporate training solutions for over 95 years. From leadership, communication and managerial training to sales, customer service and analytical skills, AMA has developed a vast array of content and training solutions to help individuals and organizations achieve business results . Each year, AMA delivers thousands of seminars and courses across the United States. With courses offered in a  classroom near you or live online, AMA is a flexible, convenient resource for all of your organization's talent development needs. AMA also offers customized solutions based on your specific talent development requirements.