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Study: Female CEOs 45 Percent More Likely to Be Fired

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Dec 6, 2018
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A recent study has found that female CEOs are in a much more precarious position than their male peers, as they are 45 percent more likely to be fired, a difference that becomes particularly pronounced when the company is doing well, according to Fortune. The paper, in the Journal of Management, used a final sample comprising 21,772 firm-year observations spanning 2,390 unique firms from 2000 to 2014, excluding CEOs with tenures of one year or less. Because it can be difficult to confirm whether a CEO was ousted or just left, the researchers relied on media reports about CEOS who had been forced out. They also classified any CEO exits for people below the age of 60 as dismissals if the press did not report the reason as death, poor health or acceptance of another position—or if the press noted that the CEO was retiring, but did not announce the retirement at least six months in advance. 

With these parameters in mind, the researchers found that, within this sample, a female CEO was 45 percent more likely to have been forced out than a male counterpart. They also found another effect: While the chances for the CEO to be fired at times of low company performance were roughly equal between men and women, as performance improved, the probability of dismissal decreased sharply for male CEOs, but remained largely the same for female ones. 

"When firms are performing poorly, we expect that an appropriate action is to dismiss the CEO, and in making such a decision, the board demonstrates its vigilance in exercising its statutory monitoring function," said the researchers in the paper. "However, when the firm is performing well, there is considerable ambiguity about the CEO’s leadership of the firm and no clear script for the board to follow. In such situations we expect that gender role stereotypes will influence dismissal decisions."