“What we found is that the CEO’s sex affected just about everything,” said McLean Parks. “We asked what percent of their investment money they’d put into the firm. It was astonishing. Participants were willing to invest 300 percent more in a firm run by a male than in a firm run by a female.”
When asked about compensation, respondents said they would pay the female CEO only 86 percent of the amount they would pay the male doppelganger.
“The thing that surprised me about these findings is that the participants were given identical materials. The only thing that changed were the name and gender of the CEO and with that, you get astonishingly different reactions,” said Bigelow.
The response to female CEOs was reflected in more than just fiscal decisions, the researchers found. Overall, the female CEOs were evaluated more harshly in a variety of ways. Despite identical resumes, participants indicated that the female CEO in the fabricated company:
• Had significantly less leadership experience.
• Would be less able to resolve a deadlock on the board of directors.
• Would be less able to handle a crisis.
• Was less competent.
• Would be a less favorable representative of the company in the eyes of the public.