Chief point: Female CEOs more likely to be fired

By Janka Stoker and Harry Garretsen *

Besides being still under-represented, female CEOs have a 45 percent greater chance of being fired, according to a new study of US firms: the dismissal chances for male CEOs depend negatively on firm performance, while female CEOs have a greater chance of being fired regardless of firm performance.

Since there is no evidence that men are better CEOs, a likely explanation for this disparity lies in stereotyping.

Women leaders are seen as less competent because they do not meet the stereotype of a good leader.

Another explanation is the “glass cliff” phenomenon that occurs when, in times of crisis, firms often opt for an atypical — that is, female — CEO. But the chances of subsequent failure are of course also higher.

Fortunately, stereotypes can be changed.

When people do have a female leader and work in environments where female leaders are common, the perceived ideal leader is more a mix of masculine and feminine characteristics.

Let’s thus take gender quota seriously: not just to increase the number of female CEOs but also to increase their longevity.

* The writers are professors at the University of Groningen.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post. You can find out more about this topic here: https://www.rug.nl/inthelead/blog/the-gender-disparity-of-ceo-hiring-and-firing-21-11-2018