The introduction of Virginia "Ginni" Rometty as the new CEO for IBM means that women are at the helms of America's top two tech companies. Rometty joins former eBay chief Meg Whitman, who became CEO of Hewlett-Packard last month, at the summit of an industry that is overwhelmingly dominated by men. Since it's a well-known fact that all top executives have giant pools of money that they swim in like Scrooge McDuck, Rometty can probably expect earn more than her predecessor, Samuel Palmisano, who raked in about $30 million in single-year pay last year according to Forbes. But what about the other women that head large, publicly traded companies? Are women who take over the chief executive role from men riding the ever-growing wave of executive pay or are they waving from the shore, shading their delicate skin under fancy sunhats?
When Yahoo's Carol Bartz and Kraft's Irene Rosenfeld each earned monster compensation packages in 2010, they boosted the average earnings for the female CEOs in S&P's 500 Index up to $14.2 million, which according to Bloomberg was forty-three percent more than the average earnings for male CEOs. With CEO pay up to an average of $11.4 million across the board in 2010, women's trajectories through the glass ceiling are probably better tracked using the following number: there are still only sixteen women currently in chief executive positions on the Fortune 500 list (eighteen when Rommetty and Mylan Inc.'s Heather Bresch take control in January). Of those CEOs, 7 have taken over or been named to take over this year, so recently in fact that their compensation packages were not included in Forbes' 2011-12 list (disclaimer: don't look at this list unless you you want your sense of self-worth and accomplishment to freeze in the shadow of American industry).
Still, women in corporate leadership rolls are capitalizing on a trend of corporate talent remuneration (and, to be fair, excess) in an unprecedented way and are generally commanding more in total pay than the men who preceded them. Herewith, a brief list of what the Fortune 500 women earned in 2010 as compared that of their male predecessors during the their final year in the position. Numbers are in millions.
- Patricia A. Woetz, Archer Daniels Midland Co. — $4.32
Previously: G. Allen Andreas — $3.0
- Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods Inc. —$16.71
Previously: Roger Deromendi — $14.0 (severance pay)
- Laura Sen, BJ's Wholesale Club — $4.0
Previously: Herbert J. Zarkin — $4.33
- Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo Inc. — $19.63
Previously: Steven S. Reinemund — $16.8
- Carol M. Meyrowitz, TJX Cos. — $10.06
Previously: Bernard Cammarata — $2.47
- Ellen J. Kullman, DuPont — $6.09
Previously: Charles Holliday, Jr. — $7.78
- Lynn L. Elsenhans, Sunoco Inc. — $11.71
Previously: John G. Drosdick — $12.49
- Angela F. Braly, Wellpoint Inc. — $9.49
Previously: Larry C. Glasscock — $32.17
Of this small sampling, four women were out-earned by the previous male tenant of the big office. Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox, succeeded Anne Mulachy (who out-earned Burns by about $7 million) in 2009 and Andrea Jung of Avon has held the top office for almost a decade, making a comparison with her predecessor Charles Perrin inconsequential. The most meaningful thing about this list, however, isn't the exorbitant rate of pay for American executives or the recent introductions of female CEOs — the list is short and in its brevity tells a story of persistent under-representation for women in corporate leadership roles. Just five years ago, it was even shorter.