Bloomberg has found that female heads of companies earn “substantially more” than their male counterparts—averaging over $14 million annual pay, and getting double-digit raises in 2009 while men took pay cuts.
“When you see numbers like this, one can truly say that the glass ceiling in corporate America has been shattered,” said Frank Glassner, CEO of San Francisco-based Veritas Executive Compensation Consultants LLC. “I don’t remember seeing women ever getting paid more than men.”
Hang on there, Frank. All this is well and good, but it comes with a HUGE caveat. For starters, only 16 of the companies in the S&P 500 are actually headed by women. And, as abcnews.com notes, it’s possible that these women are making so much because CEO salaries are transparent, and no board would underpay a female CEO “for fear of public backlash.”
Plus, as we all know too well by now:
In the broader workforce, women working at least 35 hours a week in the first quarter of 2010 received 79 percent of the wages earned by men, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Female heads of companies of all sizes made about 75 percent of what men did in a 2009 department survey of 1.1 million CEOs. About 24 percent were women.
Pay riches for women CEOs at big companies may be “an important indicator, but not a milestone because of what happens down the line” among average workers.
That Bloomberg would declare the glass ceiling shattered some seven paragraphs before introducing some critical caveats is irksome (but also totally not surprising), so we like abc’s takeaway better:
The hope is that the few who have made it to the top can start that change from the highest levels.
We hope so too.
Our perennial favorite girl-advocate Rachel Simmons has a fabulous piece up at the Huffington Post today about the ongoing conversation about workplace equality—and its connection to adolescent girls. She writes:
Women, and our struggle for workplace equality, seem to be having a moment. Seems like everywhere you look lately, there’s a story about how we don’t seek or win enough money for tech start-ups; how we still face sexism in the workplace; how there are not enough of us speaking as experts in national media; how we’re too nice to ask for lots of money; and how there are not enough of us willing to “behave like arrogant, self-aggrandizing jerks.”
Hand-wringing ensues. It’s sexism. It’s change that’s slow to come. It’s racism. It’s socialization. And yet one thing is very clear: almost no one is making more than a passing connection to girls.
Boys need help, too, Rachel continues. “But I can’t stand the argument that girls are flying high, powered by Title IX, mothers who boycotted Barbie and Girl Scout cookie sales. Because it’s just not true.”
Institutional sexism is certainly still an issue. But part of this is cultural, too: girls may look great on paper, but when it comes to the real world, they face a psychological glass ceiling.
This comment, submitted to Andrew Sullivan, who had questioned whether “dashed” was really the right word for our experience, reminds us that we want this site to be a place for you to share your stories. This one is specific to journalism—but ladies (and gentlemen) please feel free to let em rip! You can comment or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, this:
“Dashed?” Yes, dashed. I’m a 37-year-old woman with a journalism degree from a top school and 19 years’ experience in alt weeklies, a very specialized journo subgenre.
A few years ago, after a dozen years as a very-well-respected alt’s senior editor and our editor-in-chief’s right-hand gal, I began applying for editorships as they became available. I applied for a dozen; I didn’t hear back once, not so much as a form letter. Then I won a national award, and immediately was being flown all over the country for interviews. In each case, I was the runner up, and in each case, they went with a (white) man who was the city editor for the local daily. Their leg up on me? They knew the market. My leg up on them? Guys who work for mainstream dailies have an absolutely ZERO understanding of the alt-weekly ethos.
In some cases I was told I didn’t have enough experience (only 15 years at the time, with tons of responsibility and a track record of concrete achievements). In some cases, I was told they didn’t think I’d be tough enough to fire people when warranted. Once, I was told I wasn’t a good enough listener. Twice I was told I exhibited “too much confidence.”
It’s entirely possible I just don’t interview well, and that I come across abrasively or as a know-it-all. But while there was for a while plenty of work for a workhorse like myself, I was absolutely shocked that in the 21st century, there still remained a big thick stupid glass ceiling. It really, really does exist, even in the most progressive of workforces.