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Women can have a large family or become CEO, not both

Emerald study reveals influencing factors on women’s chances of reaching the C suite

Bingley, United Kingdom, 20 June 2016 -  It is not uncommon for women to reach CEO level in an organization, and there have been some high-profile female CEOs hired in recent years including Mary Barra, the first female CEO of an auto company, General Motors. A new study from Emerald Group Publishing, however, reveals that the more children a woman has, the less likely she is to reach the highest management position. 

In “Factors influencing attainment of CEO position for women” from Gender in Management: An International Journal, authors Dene Hurley and Amod Choudhary from City University of New York, also found that the number of years spent in education and the number of employees in the business play significant roles in determining the likelihood of having a female appointed as a CEO.

Dene Hurley explains; “Of the three variables we explored in the study, the number of children a woman has makes the largest impact. At 51.34 per cent, the likelihood of attaining a CEO position is highest for women when they do not have any children.

“This probability declines rapidly with each additional child they have, and for those with up to four children, the likelihood of reaching the top management position is almost zero.”

The study also reveals that the longer a woman stays in education, the less likely she is to become a CEO, as the success in this position is determined by other factors such as possessing leadership skills and vision, which are not necessarily acquired through further education. 

According to the study, a higher number of employees in an organization impacts positively on women’s chances of reaching the CEO position. This supports the argument that women tend to have a more interactive leadership style than their male counterparts in which they encourage participation, share information and enhance other people’s self worth. 

The research, “Factors influencing attainment of CEO position for women”, is free to access until 27 June 2016 and can be downloaded here: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/GM-01-2016-0004 

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