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What Prevents Women from Reaching the Top?

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Abstract

We use exceptionally rich data on all business, economics, and engineering graduates in Sweden to study women’s career progression and its causes. A wide range of observables do not explain the lack of women in top executive positions. Instead, slow career progression in the five years after the first childbirth substantially contributes to the female disadvantage. During this period, women work on average shorter hours than men and are more often absent from work. Among the minority of graduates who eventually reach an executive position, women appear to be better qualified than men. Aspiring women may thus need to outperform men to overcome the barriers related to family life.

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  • Keluoharju, Matti & Knüpfer, Samuli & Tåg, Joacim, 2016. "What Prevents Women from Reaching the Top?," Working Paper Series 1111, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 07 Mar 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1111
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    CEOs; Top executives; Gender gap; Career; Family; Qualifications;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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