Top women execs earn 18% less than male peers, report finds
Even the women who crashed the glass ceiling to get to the corporate boardroom don't earn equal pay.
A new report by Bloomberg found that of the five best paid executives in S&P 500 companies, only 198 (or 8%) were women. While women at the top earned an average of $5.3 million each, that salary was 18% less than what their male counterparts pulled down.
Women often begin their careers earning less and never catch up, experts say. "Unconscious bias" also conspires to prevent women from earning what they deserve, explained Connie Gersick, visiting scholar at the Yale University School of Management. "The same performance is evaluated less highly and compensated less highly if there is a woman's name attached to it," said Gersick. And men aren't the only villains: "Women not only do it to each other, they do it to themselves," because stereotypically male behaviors such as fighting for one's own self enrichment are labeled as unappealingly aggressive and unlikable in women, Gersick said.
The report noted that Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Co., received $8.76 million last year -- 24% less than CEOs earned at similar companies. Exceptions were Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer, who got a whopping $36.6 million and Oracle Corp. CFO Safra Catz's $51.7 million annual salary.
How do these findings square with efforts by reformers to curb Wall Street pay inflation?
"Lots of people have the sense that all these CEOs tend to get paid too much," acknowledged David Ross, associate professor at Columbia Business School. "But this issue is all across the white collar work force and not limited to the executive suite: Women are pervasively underpaid," Ross said.