By Claire Zillman
October 27, 2016

I’ve written here before about the increased likelihood of a female CEO being targeted by an activist investor. Turns out women chief executives are getting the short end of another stick: They are more likely than their male counterparts to be personally blamed for a company’s poor performance.

A new study commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation found that 80% of press reports about female CEOs involved in a crisis cited the chief executive as the source of the problem. But when a man was in charge, only 31% of stories blamed him.

As Fortune‘s Valentina Zarya writes, the disparity could be the result of the much-discussed “glass cliff” phenomenon, in which women are often hired to take over already-troubled companies. Research shows that, in a given window of time, 42% of female CEOs were appointed during a period of crisis versus 22% of men.

Whatever the cause, the media’s habit of blaming women chief executives for company mishaps could have prolonged consequences. Case in point is the glaring stat unearthed in this Fortune feature about women in corporate America: that since 2004, not a single female Fortune 500 chief who was fired from her job has landed another CEO gig.




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