Two USU professors’ research highlights women CEOs

Broadcast and print journalists across America regularly seek out two Utah State University researchers whose specialty is gender equity and, specifically, women CEOs and why so few of them reach the top in Fortune 500 companies.

Christy Glass is a sociology professor and Alison Cook is a professor of management in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.

Professor Cook said their research shows the claims are untrue that women aren’t aggressive enough to lead a billion dollar company.

“Men and women enter the workforce in roughly equal numbers,” said Cook. “But yet, every step through promotions, starting with the very first promotion, is unevenly balanced toward men. So when you get to those higher positions, you simply don’t have women in those top echelons that are able to fill those positions.”

Professor Glass said their research also shows women are more likely to be appointed CEOs of companies that are struggling or in crisis.

“What this means is that when they do enter these top spots they’re in the hottest of hot seats,” Glass added. “Not only are they highly visible and scrutinized as women in a male-dominated job, but they are also trying to lead a company out of crisis. And that’s just harder to do for any CEO.”

They said there has been a recent focus on how only five percent of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women and recently five resigned and were all replaced by men.

Glass and Cook have conducted 10 years worth of interviews with 40 women CEOs.

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