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Research on Women in Mid-size Companies

Women in Leadership: A Look at Companies in the S&P MidCap 400 Index, 2000-2010

Georgetown McDonough School of Business

Done in conjunction with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, the study focuses on women’s participation in the top management ranks of the Standard and Poor’s (S&P) MidCap 400 listing – companies with $1 billion to $7 billion in market capitalization – in order to complement the extensive research that exists on female executive representation in Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies.

Key Findings on Women in Mid-Size Companies

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Female Executives 2000-2010
Female Executives 2000-2010

Women make up half the workforce, but percentages of women in the top ranks are disappointing. Fewer than 5% of the top executives in 2010 were women, and in the ten-year period the survey covered, women in executive positions never exceeded 6%.


Industries with Average Female Executives Above 10%
Industries with Average Female Executives Above 10%

Only three industries – media, life sciences, and retailing – had women in more than 10% of executive positions. On the other end of the spectrum, the automobile and components industry reported no women executives.


Realized Compensation and Potential Compensation
Realized Compensation and
Potential Compensation

Although the numbers of women in the top ranks are concerning, the compensation gap is narrowing. The survey showed that, while the gender gap in compensation had been significant throughout most of the decade, by 2010, the gap had closed. In fact, in the three industries where women make up more than 10% of top executives, women reported making more in overall pay than their male counterparts.


Female CEOs by Region
Female CEOs by Region

Location  matters for women CEOs. Breaking the country into four regions and looking at data from 2006 to 2010, women fared best in the West (3.9%) and the Northeast (3.6%), with lower representation in the South (2.2%) and Midwest (0%).


Percentage or Female Executives Over Time by Age
Percentage of Female Executives
Over Time by Age

Contrary to research that has suggested that women are recession proof, the survey found that the slow and steady climb of women executives came to a halt at the start of the global economic contraction in 2008. This trend affected younger female executives (between 27 and 39 years old) most acutely, with a decline in their ranks starting as early as 2006.

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