Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (2023)

research summaryWomen have worked their way up the ranks of the professional world and account for more than half of the US workforce. Yet they still hold a much smaller percentage of management positions than men in many industries.

For women of color, the rise to equal representation in leadership roles has been even slower. While current statistics on women in leadership positions show improvements in recent years, there is still work to be done.

  • represent women58,4 %of the US workforce since September 2022, but only kept35% of senior management positions

  • According to a study, these are companies with women managers30%more likely to outperform other companies

  • 8,8 %of Fortune 500 CEOs are women

  • less than 1%of Fortune 500 CEOs are women of color

  • represent women50,5 %of medical students in the United States36,3 %of doctors of 2019

    Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (1)

  • women matter54,5 %of first-year law students, but only represented37,4 %Lawyers in the United States as of 2020

For further analysis, we have broken down the data as follows:
education level|corporate level|Demography|trends and forecasts
Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (2)

General statistics of women in leadership

  • As of 2020, 35% of senior management positions are held by women.

    And that's despite women making up more than half of the workforce in the United States as of 2021.

  • As of 2022, women will hold 8.8% of leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies.

    The Fortune 500 list has a total of 41 women running companies, an all-time high. In 2021, for the first time, two black women led Fortune 500 companies, Roz Brew at Walgreens Boots Alliance and Thasunda Brown Duckett at TIAA.

  • A research study found that the top two challenges preventing women from filling leadership positions are that women must hold themselves to higher standards (43%) and many companies are not "ready" to hire women for senior leadership positions ( 43%).

    Other challenges cited were family commitments that did not leave enough time to run a large business (23%), women do not have the same connections as men (20%), and women are less likely to ask for promotions and raises (18%) ).

  • Women make up 27% of the 117th United States Congress.

    This equates to 144 women out of 539 seats in both the House and the Senate. While this is an increase from 50% in the last decade, it is still far from representing the full percentage of the female population.

Statistics on women in the workplace by level of education

  • According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, 41% of women reach tertiary (university) education compared to 36% of men globally.

    Both 66% of men and 66% of women worldwide graduate from high school. Furthermore, 88% of women and 91% of men worldwide complete their primary education.

  • Between 2020 and 2021, women in the United States earned 505,000 master's degrees. Alternatively, men earned 327,000 college degrees during the same period.

    This means that in 2020, 60% of all US college degrees were awarded to women.

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    Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (3)

  • In 2020, women received 53.1% of PHD awards in the United States. This was the twelfth year in a row that women had earned more PhDs than men.

    In 2020, there were 113 women for every 100 men with PhDs.

  • In 2020, women with master's degrees in the United States had an average salary of $72,568, while men with the same level of education earned an average of $117,617.

    Men earn 47.4% more than women with the same qualifications. Men earn more than women at all school levels with the same education.

    Men with less than 9th grade earned an average of $37,474 compared to women who earned $20,455, a difference of 58%. Women who earned PhDs (remember, women earned more PhDs than men in the past 12 years) earned an average of $113,858 compared to men who earned $155,485.

    In fact, women with PhDs earn on average 3% less than men with just a master's degree.

    Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (4)

Women in the workplace according to company-level statistics

  • women have 23%executivepositions, 29% managerial positions, 37%Managerpositions, 42% of professional positions and 47% ofsupport staffpositions worldwide.

  • 30% of S&P board members are women as of 2020, a record number.

  • One study found that women make up the top 5% of income earners who qualify as "the one percent."

Women in Leadership Statistics by Demographics

  • Industries with the highest proportion of women in management positions include human resources (74.85%), education/social services (41%), healthcare (41%), and hospitality (33%).

    Fencerunners-upincluded food and beverage services (27%) and financial services (25%).

  • Industries with the lowest proportion of women in management positions include mining/quarrying (12%), construction/real estate (18%), and transportation (19%).

    Other industries with low percentages of women in leadership positions include manufacturing (19%) and technology (19%).

  • Women represent 50.5% of medical students and 54.5% of law students in the United States; however, they constitute only 36.3% of physicians and 37.4% of lawyers.

    The trend of women making up more than half of the students in a higher education program but then landing just over a quarter of the jobs in that field is common across many industries.

  • Representation % by Company Function, Gender, and Race (2021)

    White women30%28%27%24%22%20%
    women of color17%12%9%7%5%4%
    colored men17%17%15%13%12%13%
    white men35%42%50%56%61%62%
    Basic levelManagerSenior manager/
    vice presidentsenior vice presidentC-Suite

Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (5)

Women in Leadership Trends and Forecasts

  • In 1995, 0% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women, but today 8.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.

  • In 1965, only 2.3% of US legislators were women. As of 2021, 27.3% of US civil servants are women.

  • In 1975, 2% of state governors were women. In 2021, 18% of state governors were women.

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    Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (6)

  • Increase in the proportion of women by level from 2016 to 2021:

    Basic levelManagerSenior manager/
    vice presidentsenior vice presidentC-Suite
    +2 %+4 %+3 %+1 %+3 %+5 %

Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (7)

Frequently asked questions about statistics of women in leadership positions

  1. What percentage of women hold managerial positions compared to men?

    Women hold 35% of senior management positions, compared to men who account for 65% of all management positions.Although women make up more than half of the workforce in the United States.

  2. Why is it important to have women in leadership?

    It is important to have women in leadership to allow for diverse perspectives.When the majority of white males or Americans take control and make all the decisions in business and politics, the point of view of a large percentage of the United States population is eliminated.

    51.1% of the US population and 58.4% of the US workforce are women. 41% of Americans are people of color of all origins. People of color make up approximately 49.2% of the US workforce.

    So why do these groups consistently hold a lower percentage of leadership positions than white men?

    Leaders are those who have the power to bring about real change (or perpetuate the outdated status quo) in the ecosystem they govern.

    It is impossible to run a fair and inclusive company or country without the equitable contribution of all who will be affected by its impact. That is why it is imperative to have women of diverse backgrounds in leadership positions.

  3. What percentage of managers are women?

    23% of world leaders are women.Alternatively, 29% of senior management, 37% of managers, 42% of professional positions and 47% ofSupportThe staff positions are occupied by women.

    In 2020, 30% of S&P board members were women, a record number. Additionally, women make up 8.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs. Women of color made up less than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs in 2020, which was still higher than ever.

  4. What are the biggest challenges for women in leadership?

    The two biggest challenges preventing women from filling leadership positions are that women are held to higher standards and many companies do not feel "prepared" to hire women for top leadership positions.The percentage of people who agreed that women face these important leadership challenges was 43%.

    The same study also found that people felt there were no relevant challenges for women in leadership positions.

    These included that women are not as good managers as men (77% of respondents said this is not a reason why there aren't more women in senior management positions) and that women are not strong enough in business (68% of respondents). the survey concluded that this is not a reason why there are not more women in senior management positions).


Women have made their way into the professional and political world in the last fifty years. Today about 54% of the US workforce is female, but progress is still slow when it comes to the presence of women in leadership positions.

Although the proportion of female executives has increased, they still hold a drastically smaller percentage of these roles. This is even more true for women of color.

The Fortune 500 is a clear example of the rapid pace at which growing women leaders move. Fortune 500 is a list published each year of the 500 largest companies in the United States. It basically describes the biggest and best US companies by revenue.

More than 90% of these reputable businesses are led by men, with 8.8% of them generally led by women and less than 1% led by women of color. Even more amazing is that this is a record for female executives at Fortune 500 companies. This 1% or two female executives of color is the most any Fortune 500 company has ever seen.

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These low percentages apply to much of the corporate world. While white men hold 62% of executive positions, white women hold 20%, black men 13%, and black women only 4% of these senior positions.

There is also quite a large discrepancy in the percentage of women students and women who actually work in the professional field. For example, more than half of all American medical students are women, but only 36.3% of doctors are women in 2019.

This is also true in the legal field, where 54.5% of first-year law students are women, but only 37.4% of lawyers are women.

Women are often paid much less than men with the same educational qualifications. For example, women with a bachelor's degree earn an average of $58,938 per year compared to men with a bachelor's degree who earn a median salary of $88,447.

On average, men with the same educational level earn 40% more than their female counterparts.

While unprecedented improvements have been made among women leaders, the scale of these developments shows that there is still work to be done before the playing field is leveled.


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  2. CEO-Welt.Women in business: the proportion of women in leadership positions increased worldwide in 2021 – CEOWORLD magazine.Consulted on January 29, 2022

  3. Mc Kinsey.Delivering through diversity.Consulted on January 29, 2022

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  7. Statistics.United States: Proportion of lawyers by gender 2020 | Statistics.Consulted on January 29, 2022

  8. Pew Research.obstacles to female leadership | Pew Research Center.Consulted on January 29, 2022

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  10. Statistics.Educational attainment worldwide 2020 by gender and level.Consulted on January 29, 2022

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  15. Catalyst.Women on Corporate Boards (Quick Shot) | Catalyst.Consulted on January 29, 2022

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    (Video) Empowering women in the workplace and beyond

  17. Mc Kinsey.women in the workplace | McKinsey.Consulted on January 29, 2022

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  21. capital visual.Assigned: Display of the US population by race.Consulted on January 29, 2022

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Zippia Research

  • women in business

    • Statistics on women's entrepreneurship
    • women in managerial statistics
    • Statistics of women in technology
    • Statistics on the gender pay gap
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Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia (8)


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Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer originally from New York. She has been featured on career, travel and lifestyle related websites and online magazines. She received her BA in Psychology from Hunter College.


Facts about the gender gap in corporate and political leadership - Zippia? ›

Women hold 35% of senior leadership positions, compared to men, who represent 65% of all leadership positions. Even though women account for over half of the workforce in the United States.

What is the gender gap in leadership? ›

A popularly discussed and studied gap is the leadership gender gap. Women occupy 52 percent of all management and professional occupations, yet at Fortune 500 companies, they hold only 19 percent of board seats, 15 percent of executive officer positions and 5.8 percent of CEO positions.

What causes gender gap in leadership? ›

Barriers to Leadership

Further, problematic beliefs and perceptions are held by both men and women. It's these reasons that make the problem difficult to address. There are four types of barriers to leadership for women: structural barriers, institutional mindsets, individual mindsets and lifestyle choices.

What are the statistics on female leadership? ›

The share of women holding top executive positions in the U.S. has grown steadily in recent years, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Women held 31.7% of top executive positions across industries in 2021, a near five-point increase since 2015, when it stood at 27.1%.

What are the main issues in terms of gender and leadership? ›

Barriers to Women's Leadership
  • Old Stereotypes. Because men have been leaders for so long, the traits associated with leadership are often thought of as masculine and not viewed as favorably when exhibited by women.
  • Fewer “connections” ...
  • Bias and Discrimination. ...
  • Lack of Flexibility.

What is the broken rung gender and the leadership gap? ›

For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. This broken rung results in more women getting stuck at the entry level and fewer women becoming managers. Not surprisingly, men end up holding 62% of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38%.

What are three main causes of gender inequality? ›

Gender Inequality In The Indian Society
  • EDUCATION. Gender inequality is a pressing issue in Indian society. ...
  • Poverty. ...
  • Patriarchal Setup in our Indian Society. ...
  • Lack of Education or Illiteracy. ...
  • Lack of Awareness Among Women. ...
  • Social Customs, Beliefs and Practices. ...
  • The Need For Awareness.

Why are there so few female CEOS? ›

In addition, women experience different socialization processes than men. Even as children, males tend to receive more encouragement to lead, compete and take risks than females do. As a result, men often have more opportunities to develop these skills, which also may help them ascend and succeed in CEO positions.

Does gender affect leadership style? ›

The impact of gender on leadership outcomes

female leaders are significantly more likely to use a democratic style of leadership. male leaders are significantly more likely to use more autocratic leadership styles.

What problems do female leaders face? ›

Women leaders face challenges like stereotypes and unequal treatment as they try to climb the corporate ladder and secure leadership positions in their organizations. For many women, these challenges make it difficult for them to reach their full career potential.

Which leadership style is preferred by females? ›

Prefer Flat Organizational Structures – Women tend to prefer leading and creating flat organizational structures that allow for a more collegial atmosphere. This type of leadership style is necessary for creating a new product or service that requires tight integration amongst team members.

What are the barriers to women's empowerment? ›

In both private and public spheres, women face occupational segregation, and multiple barriers—such as lack of access to land, capital, financial resources and technology, as well as gender-based violence—due to cultural mindsets and stereotypes.

What are the 5 problems with leadership? ›

Some internal challenges that many leaders face include a lack of confidence, a fear of failure, maintaining authenticity during self-promotion, impatience, resistance in responding to new ideas, or overcoming impostor syndrome. All of these can be potential roadblocks to leadership success.

Why is gender balanced leadership important? ›

Organisations that value and promote diversity in gender are better able to attract and retain high performers and in turn improve operational performance.

Who leads more destructively gender differences in leadership styles? ›

In general, both studies revealed that men employ negative leadership behaviors to greater extent than women.

What are leadership gaps examples? ›

Leadership Gap Examples
  • Adaptability: The ability to change and pivot quickly in response to new information, market shifts, and other changes in the business environment.
  • Change management: The ability to plan, overcome resistance, and implement organizational changes.
Feb 27, 2023

What are the challenges of gender gap? ›

With the prevalence of gender discrimination, and social norms and practices, girls become exposed to the possibility of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child domestic work, poor education and health, sexual abuse, exploitation and violence.

What is the role of gender in politics? ›

This study exists in the context that, historically and across countries, gender has been a core determinant of how resources are distributed, how policies are set, and who participates in political decision-making.

What is the biggest factor for gender inequality? ›

Here are 10 causes of gender inequality:
  • #1. Uneven access to education. ...
  • #2. Lack of employment equality. ...
  • #3. Job segregation. ...
  • #4. Lack of legal protections. ...
  • #5. Lack of bodily autonomy. ...
  • #6. Poor medical care. ...
  • #7. Lack of religious freedom. ...
  • #8. Lack of political representation.

What are 3 examples of gender inequality in society today? ›

Gender Inequality Examples:
  • Gender inequality in girls education. Even before the pandemic, girls were more likely than boys to never set foot in a classroom and be denied equal opportunities. ...
  • Child marriage. ...
  • Gender-based violence. ...
  • Child labor.

Do companies with female CEOs perform better? ›

Recent research has revealed that companies with female CEOs are more profitable than others.

What industry has the most female CEOs? ›

Healthcare insurance industry has the highest number of female CEOs at 50.00%. This industry is concerned with providing healthcare insurance, to help make hospital bills more affordable.

Why is leadership male dominated? ›

Therefore, the impulse of men for leadership and power positions derives from the fact that these positions have always allowed more and better opportunities for mating and breeding for men, since these, unlike women, are who most profit in reproductive terms if they have more sex.

What are gender neutral leadership qualities? ›

Research has reaffirmed Opens a new window that the most valued leadership traits are gender-neutral – 84% of professionals rank honesty as the top trait, with intelligence and decisiveness both coming in at a close second at 80%.

How effective is female leadership? ›

Research from Leadership Circle, based on assessments with over 84,000+ leaders and 1.5 million raters (comprising boss, boss's boss, peers, direct reports, and others), shows that female leaders show up more effectively than their male counterparts across every management level and age level.

What are the themes of female leadership? ›

With all that being said, our research has found that highly successful women leaders often approach their careers and their lives by embracing these 4 keys to success: agency, authenticity, connection, and wholeness. These 4 themes are woven into their career decisions and leadership styles.

What are structural barriers to gender equality? ›

Structural barriers include

Patriarchal socialisation, gendered social roles and expectations reduce the number of women and girls willing to enter and pursue a political career. This is further strengthened by religious fundamentalism emerging in some parts of the region.

Why gender is a development issue? ›

Thus gender is culture specific. Gender not only varies from one culture to another but it also varies within cultures over time; culture is not static but evolves. S societies become more complex, the roles played by men and women. are not only determined by culture but by socio-political and economic factors.

What are the 3 most important challenges inclusive leaders face in today's organizations? ›

The 3 challenges facing leaders today
  • Challenge 1: Transforming the business while maintaining strong performance. ...
  • Challenge 2: Leading the enterprise and the ecosystem. ...
  • Challenge 3: Delivering for people, planet and profit. ...
  • Enterprise impact. ...
  • Perform-transform capabilities. ...
  • Agile leadership mindsets.
Feb 2, 2022

What are the three emerging issues in leadership? ›

There are three emerging issues in leadership that warrant discussion. These issues are strategic leadership, ethical leadership, and virtual leadership.

What are three leadership weaknesses? ›

Leadership weaknesses include poor communication skills, inability to delegate tasks, and low self-confidence. You can develop good leadership abilities by identifying your own weakness and practicing good leadership habits and skills.

Why do we need more female leaders? ›

Female leaders in the workplace are crucial to the success of an organization. It has been observed that women who hold leadership roles are more likely to be proactive, supportive, and engaged with their teams than men. The female-to-female ratio in the workplace is changing, and it's good to know why.

How do you promote women's leadership? ›

15 Ways To Elevate Female Leadership In Business Development
  1. Show Them Real Support Through Action. ...
  2. Don't Trivialize Or Undermine Women's Efforts. ...
  3. Remove Biases About Working Mothers. ...
  4. Find Out What They Want. ...
  5. Give Women A Voice At The Table. ...
  6. Provide Equal Compensation And Work Flexibility.
Oct 28, 2022

How does gender balance impact society? ›

Gender equality prevents violence against women and girls

condoning violence against women. men's control of decision-making and limits to women's independence. rigid gender roles and stereotypes. male relationships that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women.

What is the concept of gender gap? ›

Gap in any area between women and men in terms of their levels of participation, access, rights, remuneration or benefits.

What are gender gaps examples? ›

Far too many girls, especially those from the poorest families, still face gender discrimination in education, child marriage and pregnancy, sexual violence and unrecognized domestic work. These are some types of gender inequality.

What does gender gap mean in politics? ›

A gender gap in voting typically refers to the difference in the percentage of men and women who vote for a particular candidate.

What are the key concepts of gender inequality? ›

Legal, social and cultural situation in which sex and/or gender determine different rights and dignity for women and men, which are reflected in their unequal access to or enjoyment of rights, as well as the assumption of stereotyped social and cultural roles.

What are the characteristics of gender gap? ›

The gender gap refers to the differences between men's and women's economic outcomes thanks to the observed differences in all kinds of variables, including education, politics, and income between men and women.

How to reduce gender gap? ›

Women and Girls – Closing the Gender Gap


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4. Why Aren’t Men Becoming Therapists Anymore?
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5. SOC 201 Gender Stratification, Prof Barry
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6. Hidden Genius Project Guides Black Youth Development in Tech, Leadership
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