Number of Women Being Named as CEOs Saw Virtually No Growth in 2017

Survey about women CEOs

According to global outplacement consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the rate of a woman being hired as chief executive officers (CEOs) in 2017 remained virtually unchanged from 2016, which was around 18%.

According to the survey of companies based in the United States, in 2017, 183 women were named as a replacement CEOs. Based on a total of 993 vacant CEO positions that were filled, this translates into women filling 18.4% of them. The figures from 2017 were down compared to 2016, which saw 193 women take over as CEO, out of a total of 1,043 CEO positions.

Both 2016 and 2017 saw an improvement in the rate of the CEO hires being women, compared to the percentage that was seen in 2015, which was 15.3%.

In 2017, 87 male CEOs were named as replacement CEOs for positions that were previously held by females. In the same year, 117 women took over CEO roles that were previously held by males.


Two major examples of women CEOs leaving their positions were Meg Whitman leaving as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (NYSE:HPE) and Irene Rosenfeld leaving her CEO role at Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ:MDLZ). Both of these CEO positions were then filled by males.

Presently, there are 26 women who hold the CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies; this is down from the previous high of 32, at the beginning of 2017.

The number of companies without any women in executive roles increased from 33% in 2016 to 34% in 2017.

Areas of Growth for Women  

In 2017, 11 male CEOs left their roles because of allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. After these CEOs were ousted, of the seven replacement CEOs who were announced, four were women.

The sector that saw the highest growth in the number of women CEOs being appointed was the legal industry, which saw 50% of replacement CEOs being women. The second category of growth was the government and non-profit sector, which saw 42.3% of new CEOs being women. The market segment with the third-highest number of new CEOs being women in 2017 was the education sector, which came in at 33%.

Some sectors, such as automotive, chemical, and commodities saw no women being appointed to CEO roles last year.

Conclusion on Women CEOs

Over the past few decades, there have been more woman taking on the roles and responsibilities of CEO. However, in the past year, things seemed to hit a brick wall, and there was no growth. The numbers could have been worse if it wasn’t for some male CEOs stepping down due to sexual misconduct allegations.

Currently, women CEOs only lead approximately 18% of all U.S. companies, which is quite far from the equality mark of 50%. Seeing a slowdown in the growth of the numbers of women CEOs shows that there is still a lot of work ahead to make things more equal.



Women’s Gains In CEO Roles Stagnate In 2017,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., January 18, 2018.