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The Gender Gap Among Top Business Executives

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  • Wolfgang Keller
  • Teresa Molina
  • William W. Olney

Abstract

This paper examines gender differences among top business executives using a large executive-employer matched data set spanning the last quarter century. Female executives make up 6.2% of the sample and we find they exhibit more labor market churning – both higher entry and higher exit rates. Unconditionally, women earn 26% less than men, which decreases to 7.9% once executive characteristics, firm characteristics, and in particular job title are accounted for. The paper explores the extent to which firm-level temporal flexibility and corporate culture can explain these gender differences. Although we find that women tend to select into firms with temporal flexibility and a female-friendly corporate culture, there is no evidence that this sorting drives the gender pay gap. However, we do find evidence that corporate culture affects pay gaps within firms: the within-firm gender pay gap disappears entirely at female-friendly firms. Overall, while both corporate culture and flexibility affect the female share of employment, only corporate culture influences the gender pay gap.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfgang Keller & Teresa Molina & William W. Olney, 2020. "The Gender Gap Among Top Business Executives," NBER Working Papers 28216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28216
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    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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