Women are still a minority when it comes to CEO roles, but the number of female CEOs is on the rise. Check out these statistics about female CEOs that show just how far women have come in this field. You’ll find everything from the percentages of women who currently hold CEO roles to how much they earn compared to their male counterparts.
So, what’s behind this growth in female CEOs? Keep reading to find out!
It’s no secret that the road to becoming a female CEO is not an easy one. Despite the first major wave of feminism in the 1970s, women are still fighting harder to get ahead. Although it has taken years for organizations to start addressing this issue, some fast positive changes have happened recently.
Whether you’re a startup founder, an aspiring entrepreneur, or even just a curious student of business, you’ve probably heard the phrase “women CEOs are better for business.”
But are there enough women CEOs right now?
We’ve compiled this comprehensive list of female CEO statistics that show how far we’ve come—and how far we still have to go.
General Female CEO Statistics
1. Women take 30% longer to reach the CEO position
According to a report from Korn Ferry, women CEOs are likely to be slightly older than their male counterparts, because it takes up to 30% longer for them to achieve the CEO position.
The report found women CEOs were an average of four years older than male CEOs and worked in a much greater number of roles to reach the top.
More than two-thirds of the women interviewed also said they were motivated by a belief in the values of the company and a sense of purpose.
2. 53% of Americans believe men will continue to hold the most executive positions
Exploring public perception of female leadership opportunities in America, Pew Research held a poll asking whether people believe women will unlock more leadership roles in the years to come.
In this report, 53% of the respondents said they believe the biggest executive positions will continue to belong to men. 44% of respondents, on the other hand, think we’re rapidly accelerating towards a future where women will hold more executive positions.
The respondents also considered women to have an edge over men in terms of workplace ethics and honesty (34%).
3. 4 in 10 people say having women in top leadership positions would improve the quality of life for all women
In another survey conducted by Pew Research, four out of ten female respondents felt that simply employing more women in executive positions would significantly lead to quality of life improvements for the female community.
40% of the women surveyed said they think females in leadership roles have at least some positive impact on other women.
Men in the study were less likely to believe in the impact of female leadership, with only 19% believing women taking such roles would have a significant impact. However, around 43% did believe more opportunities for women in executive positions would have some impact.
How Many Female CEOs are There?
4. 8.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women in 2021
The Women Business Collaborative 2021 report highlights a significant increase in the number of women with leadership positions over the last year. Around 82% of the Fortune 500 CEOs in the United States are women, compared to 6.6% in 2019.
The number of women running businesses in the Fortune 500 actually hit a record of 41, with six more women joining the ranks in 2021. Unfortunately, the report also found that women of color only held 1% of CEO positions across Fortune 1000 businesses.
5. 5% of CEOs at companies in the S&P Global BMI were women in 2021
Exploring the different leadership styles of women leaders during the pandemic, S&P Global found around 5% of CEOs in the S&P Global BMI were women in January 2021. This number compared with 4.9% in February 2020.
The report also found women CEOs had a higher score on average for positive sentiment among customers, and a higher score for emotions connected to anticipation and trust.
6. Women hold around 5.5% of CEO positions globally
Credit Suisse conducted a report on the gender gap in the leadership landscape in 2021 and found though boardroom diversity is increasing, the gap between male and female leaders is still large.
Women only hold around a quarter of boardroom positions (24%) overall. Additionally, female CEOs only account for around 5.5% of the total number of CEOs worldwide.
On the plus side, the report does suggest the number of women in boardrooms has increased by around 8.9% between the years 2015 and 2021.
7. 90% of companies have at least one woman in a senior role
A study from Grant Thorton found that although the percentage of female CEOs in the modern workplace is low, the proportion of women in management and leadership positions is growing.
90% of women in companies worldwide have at least one woman in a senior management position. However, the report also revealed it was more common for women to be in HR director roles.
A further study from Grant Thorton found that in 2021, 26% of all CEOs and managing directors were females, compared to only 15% in 2019.
Growth in Female CEO Statistics
8. The number of female CEOs appointed doubled in 2021
(Heidrick & Struggles)
Looking at the changes in female leadership during the pandemic, Heidrick & Struggles found a significant increase in the number of female CEOs appointed during the first half of 2021.
The first half of the year saw the highest number of female CEOs appointed since 2018, with the share of new women CEOs doubling from 6% to 13%.
The complete review found that compared to direct predecessors, post-pandemic CEOs are more likely to be from other countries, have cross-border experience, and to be women than ever before.
9. In 2022 there were 74 female CEOs employed at Fortune 500 Companies
The world of female CEOs reached a new record at the beginning of 2022. And with more and more people becoming aware of gender diversity in the business world, it’s no wonder that numbers like these continue to grow.
As of March, there were 74 women employed as CEOs at America’s highest-grossing companies. This is a massive increase from 41 in June of last year. It also means the percentage of female CEOs almost doubled to 15%.
Currently, the biggest company ever to be led by a woman in the Fortune 500 is CVS Health, which brings in around $268.7 billion per year.
10. The salaries of female CEOs increased by 26% in 2021
Compensation for top female CEOs increased significantly last year, providing a sign of progress towards greater gender parity in corporate leadership. Women CEOs from S&P 500 companies were paid a median of around $15.8 million in 2021, around a 26.4% increase from the previous year.
The highest-paid female on the list was Lisa Su, the CEO of Advanced Micro Devices. According to the report, she earned $29.5 million in 2021. Lisa Su was followed by Mary Barra from General Motors, who earned $29.1 million.
Female CEO by Industry and Location
11. Only around 10% of tech company CEOs are women
(Fire Tech and EdTechnology)
A study conducted by Fire Tech and shared by EdTechnology.co.uk found around 90% of CEOs in the technology landscape are men. After analyzing 50 of the biggest and most successful technology brands worldwide, the company also revealed none of the top 10 largest firms have female CEOs.
The report also revealed a significant imbalance in earning potential for female CEOs. Male CEOs across the top 10 firms earned an average of $24.4 million per year, compared to just $7.25 million per year for women in similar positions. This means men earn up to 237% more than women in tech leadership roles.
12. About 15% of health company CEOs are women
(JAMA Network Open)
One study published by JAMA Network Open found that throughout over 250 healthcare organizations, women were less likely to hold CEO positions compared to board of directors, senior leadership, or chair roles.
Around 15% of all the CEOs leading mid-sized health insurance and health systems groups during the spring of 2021 were women.
However, the report also revealed other senior leadership roles like Chief Operating Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and Chief Information Officers exceeded around 20% in representation.
Around 20 to 50% of leadership positions overall were filled by women.
13. Europe and North America have more female leaders than other regions
Looking at the changes in the boardroom and leadership environment in businesses over a period of 6 years between 2015 and 2021, Credit Suisse found Europe and North America are leading the way in diversity. These two regions sit above the global average for female board members, with women making up 34.4% of the board in Europe, and 28.6% of the board in North America.
European countries take up the top spots for the most female board members and CEOs. France comes in at number one, with 45% of its board positions held by women. The UK came in tenth with a 35% rating. Europe also had the highest percentage of female CEOs at 6.7%, while the USA stands at around 5.6%.
14. Britain’s top 100 firms had around 6 female CEOs in 2019
The companies in Britain have been falling behind those in other countries when it comes to empowering females to take on leadership roles. According to a report created by Hampton-Alexander, and backed by government data, of 100 companies in the UK, only 6 had a female CEO.
The report went on to find that female executive presence is increasing across FTSE 100 companies, however. At present, Burberry in the UK stands out as the company with the largest share of women managers and executives, at 61.3%
15. In Australia, women make up 19.4% of CEOs
According to a report from WGEA, in Australia, women represent around 41% of all managers in Australia, but men are more likely to dominate areas of senior management.
In 2021, around 19.4% of all CEOs in Australia between in 2021 were women, which is an improvement from 18.3%, in 2020. However, 32.5% of heads of business positions were held by women.
Women also took 34.5% of key management personnel roles, 34.1% of executive positions, and 37.4% of senior management positions.
16. Women held 20.5% of C-Suite positions in Canada in 2021
In Canada, women account for around 20.5% of all C-Suite positions, including CEO roles. This is an increase from Around 16% in 2015. In 2021, the most common position for women among executive officers in the C-Suite was also CFO.
Impact of Female CEOs on Business Performance
17. The presence of women in leadership positions reduces the likelihood of environmental violations
(University of Adelaide)
A review of nearly 2,000 lawsuits filed against US firms between the years 2000 and 2015 by the University of Adelaide (Australia) found female leaders could potentially reduce environmental issues.
The report suggests that for every additional woman on a business board, the firm reduced its risk of being sued for an environmental issue by around 1.5%.
18. Female CEOs are less likely to be sued for diversity misconduct
(University of Texas)
According to a study carried out by the University of Texas, into the impact of female CEOs on the practices of businesses, firms led by female CEOs are 31% less likely to be connected to discrimination lawsuits.
The report further revealed that the presence of a female CEO (when measured against all other potential variables) is positively associated with a 17% higher likelihood of diversity in the workplace.
19. Companies with more than 30% women executives are more likely to out-perform others
The WB Collaborative report into female leaders in the business landscape found that companies with more than 30% of female executives, including female CEOs, were more likely to outperform their peers.
What’s more, 86% of women reported they were encouraged to accomplish more professionally when seeing other women in leadership roles.
According to the group, the aim for 2025 is to have at least 15% of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 CEO roles held by women.
20. Public companies with women CEOs or CFOs are more profitable
A report by S&P Global on the impact of female leaders in the business landscape found female CEOs and CFOs were more likely to generate higher profits and better stock price performances. Two years after appointing a female CEO, companies were considered to be less risky by investors.
Companies with women CFOs also generated $1.8 trillion more in gross profits than their sector average. Gender diversity across the board also improved, with companies with a female CEO having twice the number of female board members on average.
21. Female CEOs can increase a company’s market value by up to $80 million
(Workplace Gender Equality Australia)
A study published by the department for Workplace Gender Equality for Australia found female CEOs can have a direct impact on company value.
The report, based on 6 years of Australian company reports, found brands appointing a female CEO were able to increase their average market value by around 5%, or around $80 million.
The same study also found increasing the number of women in leadership positions by 10% increased a company’s value by around 6.6% or an average of $105 million.
As you can see, female CEOs are not only leading companies in a variety of industries, but they’re doing an incredible job. From the numbers we’ve looked at so far, it’s clear that these women are trailblazers in their field, and we can’t wait to see what they achieve next.
But after looking at these female CEO statistics, it’s clear that there is still a lot of progress to be made in the world of business. There are countless talented women out there who are ready to take companies to the next level, and it’s our job as citizens and consumers to support them in whatever way we can.
We should celebrate their successes and help them reach new levels of success by continuing to educate ourselves about their work and what they stand for.
With so many inspiring women leading businesses all over the world, now is definitely the time for business leaders to embrace diversity and allow for more women to take up top positions.
We hope that this article has enlightened you as to why female leadership is important and given you some ideas on how to support female CEOs in your own life. Now go out and support your favorite CEO!