More women made the list of top paid CEOs in 2023, but their numbers still are small compared to men

More women are attaining the top job at companies in the S&P 500, but their numbers still are minuscule compared to their male counterparts.

Of the 341 CEOs included in the AP’s annual compensation survey, 25 are women. That’s the most women making the list since the survey began in 2011. But the numbers haven’t budged very much. The second highest tally was 21 women in 2017.

The survey, based on data analyzed for The Associated Press by Equilar, includes CEOs at S&P 500 companies who have served at least two fiscal years at their companies, which filed proxy statements between Jan. 1 and April 30, 2024.

Christy Glass, a professor of sociology at Utah State University who studies equity, inclusion and leadership, said that while seeing more female CEOs this year is a positive, overall the trends are discouraging.

“We’ll see a year where there’s kind of a banner year of women CEOs,” she said. “But then a year or two down the road, we’ll see a significant turnover.”

Lisa Su, CEO and chair of the board of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, was the highest-paid female CEO in the AP survey for the fifth year in a row in fiscal 2023, bringing in total compensation worth $30.3 million — flat with her compensation package a year earlier. Her rank rose to 21 overall from 25.

Su received a base salary of $1.2 million and a performance bonus of more than $1.4 million. The bulk of her package was $21.8 million in stock awards.

Su has been chief of AMD, based in Santa Clara, California, since 2014. The company is part of a growing number of companies trying to take advantage of a broader interest from businesses looking for new AI tools that can analyze data, help make decisions and potentially replace some tasks currently performed by human workers. AMD’s stock price surged 127% in 2023.

Others in the top five highest-paid female CEOs include Mary Barra of automaker General Motors with total compensation of $27.8 million; Jane Fraser of banking giant Citigroup with a package worth $25.5 million; Kathy Warden of aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman Corp., at $23.5 million; and Carol Tome of package deliverer UPS Inc., whose pay was valued at $23.4 million.

Some notable female CEOs aren’t included since they became CEO less than two years ago or their company files proxy statements outside of the January through April window, including Julie Sweet of consultant Accenture and Sue Nabi, CEO of Coty Inc.

The median pay package for female CEOs rose 21% to $17.6 million. That’s better than the men fared: Their median pay package rose 12% to $16.3 million.

But the highest-paid men still make far more than the highest-paid women. Broadcom CEO Hock Tan raked in $161.8 million — the vast majority of that in stock awards.

Part of the issue of the disproportionate numbers of men to women is the “glass cliff,” Glass said. Her research shows women are more likely to be appointed CEO at disadvantaged companies.

“It’s kind of like one step forward, two steps back,” she said. “One of the factors driving that is the fact that women tend to have opportunities to serve as CEO when organizations are in crisis. … That means that they start their leadership trajectory at a disadvantage.”

Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden Associated Press File Photo, 2018
Carol Tome, CEO of United Parcel Service Associated Press File Photo, 2010
Lisa Su, CEO of Advanced Micro Devices. In 2023, Su was the highest paid female CEO in a survey by The Associated Press. Associated Press File Photo, 2022
Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup Associated Press File Photo, 2023
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors Associated Press File Photo, 2023
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