Gender Gap Persists at the CEO Level of S&P 500

Despite all of the attention placed on increasing the number of female executives at American companies, the needle on the gender gap has hardly moved.

When S&P Capital IQ looked at the annual growth of female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in the S&P 500 Index from 2006 to 2015, we saw an increase of one new female CEO every two years. Furthermore the current number of female CEOs running S&P 500 Companies stands at a meager 21 out of 500; which is down from 25 female CEOs at the end of 2014.

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By focusing on S&P 500 Companies as of Nov. 23th 2015 (which accounts for approximately 75 percent of the US equity market by capitalization) and analyzing the male/female ratios of CEOs, we get a modest representation of how the gender gap has changed over the years for the largest publically owned companies.[1] Our assessment revealed the following key findings:

  • The gender gap at the CEO level of S&P 500 Companies is not closing. Growth rate for new female CEOs is only one per every two years.
  • Information Technology (Info Tech) has the most female CEOs. While Energy, Materials and Telecoms have no female CEOs in the S&P 500.
  • 2015 Female CEO’s lag Male CEO’s in terms of tenure by two years.
  • Things may not change any time soon. At the end of 2014 the S&P 500 Index had 25 female CEO’s. Latest figures show this number has declined to 21 female CEOs.

Female CEOs of S&P 500 Companies as of November 23rd, 2015

Female CEOs of S&P 500 Companies as of November 23rd, 2015

Source: S&P Capital IQ November 23, 2015.

Note: A CEO’s tenure starting in 2015 is counted as one year. A CEO’s tenure that started in 2014 and is currently active is counted as two years.


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[1] This study only covers S&P 500 Companies. We have not taken into account or analyzed Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) or privately own institutions whose leadership composition could vary significantly.

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