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The Women on Top: The Country’s Highest-Paid Female CEOs


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 248,760 Americans held the job title “Chief Executive” in 2013. As leaders who are (at least theoretically) responsible for making some of the most crucial decisions involving a company and its workforce, Chief Executives have at times singular amounts of authority, privilege, and responsibility. They are compensated accordingly, usually with salaries clocking in at a minimum of six figures. In the U.S., for example, CEOs earn an annual median salary of $153,353, according to PayScale’s Salary Survey, which includes 6,674 CEOs.

(Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

Though CEO salaries are relatively high across the board in comparison to the average American worker, female CEO salary averages are consistently lower than those of men. Female CEOs made approximately 80 cents on the dollar (80 percent of compensation) compared to men in 2013, according to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, based on U.S. Labor Department data. The gender pay gap, however, is not solely explained by a simple “men are paid more than women” argument.

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In a recent report on the Gender Wage Gap, PayScale found that lower female salaries are, at least in part, influenced by women’s tendency to seek out more meaningful jobs (with more flexible schedules) that usually pay less.

“Unequal pay for equal work?” explains PayScale Economist Katie Bardaro. “Not really. Women earn less than men on average because they often fill jobs with a large societal benefit, but small monetary benefit. Instead of focusing the debate on the misbegotten gender wage gap, we should instead examine why women are absent from high-paying jobs and industries, like technology, engineering and executive positions.”

Within the elite, CEO slice of the American employee pie, women are the minority gender by far: a whopping 82 percent of the PayScale survey pool are male, whereas only 18 percent are female. Only 11, or 5.5 percent of the country’s 200 overall highest-earning CEOS are women, according to a study released by The New York Times in June 2014. (Interestingly, the highest-ranking woman on the Times‘s list has not always been female. Martine Rothblatt of the biotechnology company United Therapeutics, who banked roughly $38.2 million in 2013, was biologically born a man before undergoing sex reassignment surgery in 1994).

Take a look at who else made the list of the top five highest-earning female CEOs in the country:

Top 5 Paid* Female CEOs of 2013

1. Martine Rothblatt

Age: 60 – 61

Company: United Therapeutics Corp.

Compensation: $38,218,255

2. Safra Catz

Age: 53

Company: Oracle

Compensation: $37,666,750

3. Marissa Mayer

Age: 39

Company: Yahoo

Compensation: $24,935,712

4. Meg Gentle

Age: 39

Company: Cheniere Energy

Compensation: $21,721,238

5. Carol Meyrowitz

Age: 61

Company: TJX Companies

Compensation: $20,720,802

 * Total compensation including base salary, stock options, bonuses, and other incentives.

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