Leadership

Female CEOs are still extremely rare in the US and Europe

Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, poses with an autonomous vehicle during a General Motors press conference at the Renaissance Center on December 15, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan.
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Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, poses with an autonomous vehicle during a General Motors press conference at the Renaissance Center on December 15, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan.

Though high-profile executives like Mary Barra and Indra Nooyi may grab headlines, the number of women at the helm of top companies in the U.S. and abroad is still woefully small, according to new research.

The study, "Route to the Top," was put together by executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, and examined the number of female CEOs in the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Notably, the U.S. has the largest percentage share of female CEOs, with about 8 percent of the top spots held by women. However, that number declined by 1 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the study. Meanwhile, the percentage rose in the United Kingdom, from 5 percent to 6 percent. Both France and Germany remained the same at 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

"The small progress women have made over the years in being named to CEO roles has stalled," says Bonnie Gwin, vice chairman and co-managing partner of the firm's global CEO & Board Practice, in a statement. "Forward-looking companies should be mindful that their succession plans include both women and men, with a particular focus on ensuring they gain the critical experiences necessary to serve as CEO."

The research, which was conducted last year, examines chief executives of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500, the FTSE 100 in the United Kingdom, the DAX 30 and MDAX 50 in Germany and the SBF 120 in France, according to Heidrick & Struggles.

But there may be some good news in the future — at least in the U.S. Fortune reported that the number of female CEOs heading up Fortune 500 companies is slated to grow this year, to 27.

The current list of female CEOs in the Fortune 100 is:

  • Mary Barra of General Motors
  • Virginia Rometty of IBM
  • Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo
  • Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin
  • Safra Catz of Oracle
  • Phebe Novakovic of General Dynamics
  • Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez International