What prevents women from reaching the top?

Matti Keloharju*, Samuli Knüpfer, Joacim Tåg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We use rich data on all business, economics, and engineering graduates in Sweden to study the lack of women among chief executive officers (CEOs). A comprehensive battery of graduates’ characteristics explains 40% of the gender gaps in CEO appointments and 60% among graduates with children. The explanatory power mostly comes from absences and unemployment, which are about twice as likely for women as men. These gender differences increase following childbirth, and they persist in the long run. We present and discuss potential explanations to the explained and remaining gaps. Although the large unexplained share makes it hard to pinpoint the exact reason for the gender gap in CEO appointments, the large contribution of labor market attachment to the explained share suggests work–family trade-offs are an important part of the story.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalFinancial Management
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)711-738
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 16.02.2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • CEOs
  • family
  • gender gap
  • labor market attachment
  • qualifications


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