Fast Company contributor Jared Lindzon reports on the findings of new research that suggests female CEOs are more likely to face discrimination from shareholders.
The study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows that gender plays the biggest role when predicting whether a CEO will be the subject of shareholder activism, meaning the shareholders will try to take control of the company, based on shareholder proposals at Fortune 1000 companies between 2003 and 2013. The likelihood of this happening remained consistent across industries, company sizes, and levels of performance, but not gender.
"Controlling for other reasons investors target certain firms, our models show that gender alone explains significant activism specifically toward female CEOs," Christine Shropshire, an associate professor of management at Arizona State said in a statement. "All else held equal, female CEOs have a 27% likelihood of facing activism, while their male counterparts have a near zero predicted likelihood of being targeted," she said.
Only 5.1% of Fortune 1000 and 4% of Standard and Poor’s 500 companies are led by female CEOs, and women represent just 3% of new CEOs in the United States. Research indicates that women are also more likely to be forced out of their own companies as opposed to leaving after a planned succession or merger, with 38% getting the boot compared with 27% of men.