Historically, the boardroom has been a man’s playground. The imbalance between men and women in higher-paid jobs brings the issue into focus when you consider that only five CEOs in FTSE 100 groups are female. Less than one in three FTSE 100 board members are women. Between the FTSE 100 in the UK and S&P 500 in the USA, only 30 CEOs are women. According to the Conversation, one of the reasons for this is that the attributes of a leader – such as dominance, aggression, and ambition – are usually stereotyped as attributes of men and not women. Worse yet, for a woman that does display dominance, aggression, and ambition, she is often unfairly dismissed as being bossy, hysterical, and idealistic instead.
The disparity between men and women in business was noted by the government, and in 2016 it launched the Hampton-Alexander review, which resulted in recommendations for FTSE 350 companies to improve the representation of women on the boards and in leadership positions.
Four years on and female CEOs on the FTSE 100 are making history. One of the current female CEOs is Liv Garfield, who runs Severn Trent. She had been a CEO of a company before, and at 44 she is the youngest CEO on the FTSE 100. Another of those five women is Carolyn McCall, the CEO of ITV. When she was appointed in 2018, she was the first female CEO the group had ever had.
In 2020 the UK placed 21st on the Global Gender Gap Index, which is quite near the top, showing that the UK isn’t the best but is making positive steps. For comparison, the USA placed 58th and Ireland placed 7th, showing that there is still work to be done in the UK in order to follow Ireland’s example.