HomeLearning CenterWhy Female CEOs Gave Themselves Pay Cuts While Male CEOs Took Raises

Why Female CEOs Gave Themselves Pay Cuts While Male CEOs Took Raises

After the last two years of pandemic, economic collapse, and the she-cession, it’s time to return to a topic near and dear to this columns’ heart: entrepreneurship. There is nothing that warms said heart quite as much as the idea of a bunch of ambitious young women out there forging their own paths and transforming the world. There’s excitement, heightened by the sense—even back in the 1990s, when I founded my company—of helping to break new ground. And in the decades since, it’s been a distinct pleasure to watch women like Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, Jane Fraser, and Safra Catz rise up alongside a whole generation of female business leaders. But unfortunately, there’s no way to talk about the entrepreneurial spirit in 2022 without also talking about the pandemic and its consequences.

Chief among those consequences, for our purposes, is the she-cession—but not the narrow, technical definition of the word—the slower job recovery for women, which, as I have tracked here, has closely followed the course of the pandemic. That pattern can be seen over and over; women’s employment opportunities decline with each passing wave of infection, most notably following the winter omicron superwave. But, today I want to talk about the other side of the coin: what’s it like for women out there starting businesses?

On the one hand, women are starting more businesses than ever before, at a faster clip than ever before, and—critically—at a faster clip than their male counterparts. At the very same time, female founders continue to face greater and greater challenges even securing startup capital. And there’s more: the pay gap between male and female CEOs has only widened dramatically since the pandemic began.


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