This article has been updated to correct errors in the IBM CEO noted by reader Blake Fisher. The IBM CEO changed her name.
Who makes a better, more enduring CEO – a man, or a woman? The question is an abomination even to ask – TRIGGERED – but it is also one that can be answered based on a simple review of the longevity of the class of women CEOs from 5 years ago, as well as the success, or lack thereof, of their companies. It turns out that by whatever measure you like, women CEOs suck, and you can make a lot of money in the stock market betting against them as a class. Such an investment strategy is evergreen as long as you are discreet about it, as it is socially unacceptable to write off women CEOs for the class disaster that they are.
This article is not intended to be investment advice. Because that would give the game away or something. Just check my figures and decide for yourself. All the data I used is copied or linked in this article.
Feminist CEOs – usually women CEOs – have been coming under fire lately for participating in capitalism/patriarchy – the quaint idea that smart women can compete with the good old boys is becoming passé in even feminist circles as extremist views on destroying the economy gain more favor in their coven. Ever the curious one, I suspected something dreary was up with women CEOs in general, so I did the thing that feminist HR directors love doing to men – I gave women CEOs a 5-year performance review as a class.
The year 2012 was a banner year for women CEOs (Chief Executive Officers, typically the most powerful figure in a company) – 20 women reached this pinnacle in the S&P 500, a record at that time.
- 10. Meg Whitman – Hewlett-Packard
- 19. Ginni Rometty – IBM
- 28. Patricia Woertz – Archer Daniels Midland
- 41. Indra Nooyi – PepsiCo
- 45. Angela Braly – WellPoint
- 50. Irene Rosenfeld – Kraft Foods
- 72. Ellen Kullman – DuPont
- 125. Carol Meyrowitz – TJX
- 127. Ursula Burns – Xerox
- 234. Sheri McCoy – Avon Products
- 250. Deanna Mulligan – Guardian Life Ins. Of America
- 266. Debra Reed – Sempra Energy
- 334. Denise Morrison – Campbell Soup
- 390. Ilene Gordon – Ingredion
- 396. Heather Bresch – Mylan
- 451. Kathleen Mazzarella – Graybar Electric
- 464. Maggie Wilderotter – Frontier Communications
- 465. Gracia Martore – Gannett
- 483. Marissa Mayer – Yahoo
- 499. Beth Mooney – Key Corp
In the five years from 2012 to 2017, the number of female CEOs jumped from 20 to 29 – a full 45% increase! You go, grrrlz! But I was curious about the original class of 2012 – were they still in their jobs 5 years later, and if they were, how were their companies holding up?
Surviving Women CEO’s 2012-2017
- 10. Meg Whitman – Hewlett-Packard, dropped to 20th in 2016
- 19. Ginni Rometty – IBM, dropped to 31
28. Patricia Woertz – Archer Daniels Midland
- 41. Indra Nooyi – PepsiCo, dropped to 44.
45. Angela Braly – WellPoint
- 50. Irene Rosenfeld – was Kraft Foods, now Mondelez International, Inc., dropped to 94.
72. Ellen Kullman – DuPont 125. Carol Meyrowitz – TJX 127. Ursula Burns – Xerox 234. Sheri McCoy – Avon Products 250. Deanna Mulligan – Guardian Life Ins. Of America
- 266. Debra Reed – Sempra Energy, dropped to 279.
- 334. Denise Morrison – Campbell Soup, dropped to 337.
390. Ilene Gordon – Ingredion
- 396. Heather Bresch – Mylan, no longer listed here. Deserted the US.
451. Kathleen Mazzarella – Graybar Electric 464. Maggie Wilderotter – Frontier Communications
- 465. Gracia Martore – Gannett, dropped to 752.
- 483. Marissa Mayer – Yahoo, dropped to 513.
- 499. Beth Mooney – Key Corp, dropped to 540.
For those counting, that is 10 of 20 women CEOs who vanished – bounced out of their jobs, or they fled their jobs like CEO Pepper Potts quit Stark Industries in Iron Man 3. The 5 year persistence rate for top level women CEOs is an abysmal 50%.
The news is even more discouraging for the ten surviving women CEOs. Not a single one of their companies improved their ranking in their 5 years as CEO – they were outworked and outperformed by their male competitors even worse than a world champion woman’s soccer team facing pubescent schoolboys.
So, considering both their commitment and their success rates, women CEOs earn a mark of 0% both overall and individually.
So, do not worry, feminists. By the numbers, women CEOs are ripping down patriarchy, and their companies, with every day they are in their jobs. Betting against them was a sure thing for the last 5 years.
Are these women lazy? Do they prefer family life? Are they incompetent? Are they overmatched by men? All of the above? I will leave these pointless questions to the pencil pusher patriarchs of future genderations.
Should I have reviewed the success of the other, male-run companies? Maybe, when the day comes when a woman CEO actually improves her company’s ranking, I will think about it.
This list names all the women who currently hold CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, based on the January 2017 S&P 500 list.* Women currently hold 29 (5.8%) of CEO positions at those S&P 500 companies.
Date: March 14, 2017
- Mary T. Barra, General Motors Co. (GM)
- Heather Bresch, Mylan N.V.
- Michele Buck, The Hershey Company
- Debra A. Cafaro, Ventas, Inc.
- Safra A. Catz, Oracle Corp. (co-CEO)
- Debra Crew, Reynolds American Inc.
- Mary Dillon, Ulta Beauty
- Adena Friedman, Nasdaq
- Margaret “Margo” Georgiadis, Mattel, Inc.
- Lynn J. Good, Duke Energy Corp.
- Shira Goodman, Staples, Inc.
- Tricia Griffith, The Progressive Corp.
- Marillyn A. Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corp.
- Vicki Hollub, Occidental Petroleum Corp.
- Margaret Keane, Synchrony Financial
- Gracia C. Martore, TEGNA
- Marissa Mayer, Yahoo Inc.
- Beth E. Mooney, KeyCorp
- Denise M. Morrison, Campbell Soup Co.
- Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo, Inc.
- Phebe N. Novakovic, General Dynamics Corp.
- Patricia K. Poppe, CMS Energy
- Debra L. Reed, Sempra Energy Corp.
- Barbara Rentler, Ross Stores, Inc.
- Virginia M. Rometty, International Business Machines (IBM) Corp.
- Irene B. Rosenfeld, Mondelez International, Inc.
- Susan N. Story, American Water Works Company, Inc.
- Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise
- Geisha Williams, PG&E Corp.