Why Are Most Fortune 500 CEOs Male? My “Top 10” List

1. The notion of what it means to be a corporate CEO is tilted towards socially constructed norms of “maleness” – appearance, demeanor, personality.

2. Boys are still taught to lead, dominate, conquer, take charge and men feel obligated to do so, e.g. the military is mostly male and is still viewed as a male domain.

3. There is a biological element here that has to be taken into account, e.g. hormones do affect behavior.

4. Girls are taught the converse of what boys are taught, albeit implicitly, subtly, etc. “Soft sexism” is very real and it is not respectful of women either at work or at home.

5. Children require thinking and rethinking priorities and more often, women will choose children first over the effort required to climb the corporate ladder – which is not as fulfilling for most.

6. Same as #5, but for relationships. Corporate success requires long hours and frequent overnight travel, as well as relocation as needed. These are all relationship-killers.

7. Women are less likely to be groomed/mentored for corporate success because the mentor if male may fear accusations of harassment; women fear competition especially since there are fewer seats in the C suite for women than men.

8. Women have trouble with the notion that they are financially responsible for themselves (because it implies there is no Prince Charming and they will end up alone)  versus men assume they must be financially literate.

9. Women have trouble with self esteem and so do not demand what they rightfully deserve.

10. The CEO job is conceived of in a way that reflects old-fashioned stereotypes about work and the division of labor – most obviously that one person occupies the job rather than two partners. If CEOs had job-sharing, this would make it easier for women to aspire to the role without harming their ability to be caregivers as well as serious participants in committed romantic relationships.

All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.

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