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Why Aren’t There More Women CEOs?

“The vast majority of Americans believe women and men are equally capable of being top corporate leaders. So why are there only 26 female chief executives at Fortune 500 companies?,” the Wall Street Journal asks.

“More than than two in five say it’s because women are held to higher standards than their male counterparts, a Pew Research Center survey found. That was nearly double the fraction saying family responsibilities or lack of connections held women back. Of those polled, 80% said women and men are equally good leaders and that women tended to be more honest and fair to employees. More women aren’t CEOs because they are being held to higher standard, according to 43% of those polled.”

So why, then, are women in short supply at the top of government and business in the United States?

From Pew Research: “According to the public, at least, it’s not that they lack toughness, management chops or proper skill sets. It’s also not all about work-life balance. While economic research and previous survey findings have shown that career interruptions related to motherhood may make it harder for women to advance in their careers and compete for top executive jobs, relatively few adults in the new Pew Research survey point to this as a key barrier for women seeking leadership roles.1 Only about one-in-five say women’s family responsibilities are a major reason there aren’t more females in top leadership positions in business and politics.

“Instead, topping the list of reasons, about four-in-ten Americans point to a double standard for women seeking to climb to the highest levels of either politics or business, where they have to do more than their male counterparts to prove themselves. Similar shares say the electorate and corporate America are just not ready to put more women in top leadership positions.”