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Can You Guess How Many Female CEOs There Are in the World?

If you can't name the right number, don't worry: neither can executives. The 1,700 participants of a Weber Shandwick study guessed that 23 percent of CEOs at large companies were women. Take a look at the embarrassing results of the study and the shocking truth of how few female CEOs actually exist today.

If you can’t name the right number, don’t worry: neither can executives. The 1,700 participants of a Weber Shandwick study guessed that 23 percent of CEOs at large companies were women. Take a look at the embarrassing results of the study and the shocking truth of how few female CEOs actually exist today.

Too few CEOs are female.

(Photo Credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr)

What’s the actual percentage of female CEOs running large companies around the world?

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The figure is ridiculously small, but the worst part is how many respondents, all of them senior executives, extraordinarily overestimated the number of female CEOs at the helm of large corporations around the globe. The study’s report concludes that a mere “8% of executives in companies worldwide with revenues of at least $500 million (USD) have a female CEO.” What’s more, “Only 5% of CEOs running U.S. Fortune 1000 companies are women.” It wasn’t just the male global executives who were way off the mark when asked about female representation in C-suite positions – women were just as likely to overestimate their figures as men.

To put things into perspective, there are fewer women running big companies than men named John. “Among chief executives of S.&P. 1500 firms, for each woman, there are four men named John, Robert, William or James,” and this ratio has now been appropriately coined, the Glass Ceiling Index. This is not to poke fun at the glass ceiling issue that is long withstanding, but rather to point out that “in many important decision-making areas of American life, women [still] remain vastly outnumbered.”

How can female executives be so wildly underrepresented, especially considering that research confirms that women make better leaders than men? Maybe women are following the terrific advice of Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella when he told women to “have faith that the system will give you the right [promotion].” In due time, ladies – just wait there patiently and have faith. OK? Great.

In all seriousness, there definitely are too few women in leadership positions, but the good thing is that the outlook looks good. Awareness is growing, companies are embracing diversity more than ever, so change will come – and soon. For now, ladies, look up to the 8 percent of women who have broken through the glass ceiling and are paving a glorious path for us all to follow in our own careers now and in the future.

Tell Us What You Think

What was your best guess for the number of female chief executives in the world? Share your honest answer and join the conversation happening on Twitter, or you can leave your response in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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