Why aren’t more women leading US companies? Americans weigh in
Women have made huge strides in business, ascending to the C-suite and the boardroom in record numbers.
But they are still very far from achieving parity with men in securing top corporate jobs in the United States.
Women make up half the US population. But they only account for 10.6% of Fortune 500 chief executives, 30.4% of US board members and 32.8% of college and university presidents, according to the Pew Research Center.
Pew decided to ask Americans why they think that is and whether they expect more women to occupy top business roles anytime soon. So they surveyed a nationally representative sampling of US adults.
In response to the question, “Why aren’t there more women in top executive business positions?” respondents identified several “major” reasons.
Top among them:
- 58% said women have to do more to prove themselves than men.
- 50% cited gender discrimination.
- 48% noted family responsibilities made it harder for women to move up.
- 43% said many businesses aren’t ready to hire women for top roles.
- 40% thought sexual harassment is creating a difficult environment for women to get ahead.
When asked whether there will ever be as many women as men in top executive positions in the business world, 50% said men will continue to outnumber women. Another 48% said it’s “only a matter of time” before there are as many women as men occupying the top roles.
Mixed findings by gender and political party
Pew compared responses from men and women, and from respondents identifying as Democrats or Republicans.
Most women (65%) and most Democrats, regardless of gender, (76%) said there are too few women in business leadership. Among all those who said this, a large majority (79%) said ideally there should be the same number of women and men in these roles. Another 10% said more women than men would be ideal, and another 10% said it would be ideal to have more women but still not as many women as men.
Between the major political parties, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to see multiple factors as major obstacles for women seeking top leadership positions in business.
But gender overrode political affiliation when it came to citing views on why more women aren’t at the top in the business world.
“Republican and Democratic women are more likely than their male counterparts to say there are too few women in top business leadership positions and to point to certain factors as major obstacles for women,” Pew said.