At $15.9 million, the median pay for top female CEOs exceeded the median for their male counterparts by $5.5. million. Sounds good?
The survey was based on 340 large firms. And there were only 17 women.
Where are we going? To deciding whether the glass ceiling has begun to shatter.
The Cracks in the Glass Ceiling
1. Starting with the big picture, let’s look at average earnings for men and women.
Between 1981 and 2012, average earnings for the top .1 percent ascended pretty steadily to a $2.841 million peak 15 years ago and then declined somewhat. (All figures are adjusted for inflation and stated in 2012 dollars.)
Average earnings for the top .1 percent:
Below, for the next .9 percent, you can see that the average came close to doubling.
Average earnings for the second .9 percent:
2. Now let’s see where women fit into the picture.
For the top .1 percent, moving from 1.9 percent to 10.5 percent, the share of women at the top quintupled. Somewhat similarly, for the next .9 percent, the number increased from 3.3 percent to 17 percent.
The share of women among top earners:
Moving from people to dollars, we also see a big relative increase.
The share of earnings going to women who are at the top:
Our Bottom Line: Half Full or Half Empty?
Sounding like economists, we have to say that on the one hand the glass could be half full, but on the other it is half empty. Yes, we have come a long way. But, just like the CEO earnings numbers for 340 large firms, there are still relatively few women at the top.