The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs
NBER Working Paper No. 7931
This paper studies the gender compensation gap among high-level executives in US corporations. We use the ExecuComp data set that contains information on total compensation for the top five highest paid executives of a large group of US firms over the period 1992-1997. About 2.5% of the executives in the sample are women. These women earn about 45% less than their male counterparts. As much as 75% of this gap can be accounted for by the fact that women manage smaller companies and are less likely to be CEO, Chair, or President of their company. The unexplained gender gap can be reduced to less than 5% when one further accounts for the fact that female executives are younger and have less seniority than male executives. Over the period under study, women have nearly tripled their participation in the top executive ranks and have also strongly improved their relative compensation, mostly by gaining representation into the larger corporations. While the absence of a significant gender gap (once we control for measurable characteristics) implies that women and men who hold similar jobs in firms of similar size received fairly equal treatment in terms of compensation, it does not rule out the possibility of discrimination in terms of gender segregation or promotion.
Published: Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 55, no. 1 (October 2001): 3-21