“Women who have already made it to the top say that the only person who will get you there is yourself.
While many researchers and observers have examined the structural and other barriers that limit women’s progress through the ranks, we wanted to explore a different question: how have the few women who have made it to the very top overcome those barriers? Our aim was to discover how female CEOs explain their own success, and to develop recommendations for supporting women’s leadership careers more generally.
We embarked on an in-depth study of the leadership journey of 12 female CEOs, most of whom lead large, global corporations. This was part of a larger study on the same topic, covering a total of 151 global CEOs — 12 female and 139 male. According to Grant Thornton (2016), globally, only 9% of women in senior management are CEOs or managing directors. In the G7 just 7% of women in senior management are CEOs, compared to 20% who are HR Directors or 12% who are chief marketing officers. Our sample of female CEOs — 8% of the 151 CEOs we interviewed — is representative of this reality.”