December 2013 was a big month for Mary Barra who was tapped by General Motors to replace Dan Akerson as GM’s new CEO. Women everywhere, well, those of us who were paying attention, anyway, cheered and shouted in joy as we heard the crash of one of the biggest glass ceilings in history shattering and falling away. The first global car company to have a female CEO was cause to celebrate!
Then we saw her paycheck, and collectively sighed, knowing exactly how she must feel. Barra’s total compensation, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission is 4.4 million, with a base salary of 1.4 million – translating to roughly half what Akerson, the guy she replaced, made. Akerson’s employment package was an estimated $9 million, a $1.7 million base salary and $7.3 million in stock.
If that weren’t quite enough cold water in the face, Akerson is still under contract as an adviser for GM, and he’s still making more than Barra, receiving pay of $4.68 million as an outside ‘senior adviser.’
It gets worse.
Barra’s been with GM since 1980. Her last position was as GM’s senior vice president of global product development. When GM hired Akerson, he had no experience running an automobile manufacturer of any size. His last job was as a managing director of a private equity firm, The Carlyle Group. Though in all fairness, he’s been sleeping through GM board meetings sine 2009, as a member.
She’s not the only one.
On average, the highest paid female CEOs make about 18% less than their male counterparts. A few other notable underpaid female CEOs are Heather Bresch, CEO of pharmaceutical company Mylan who makes 33 % less than the average for the pharma sector and Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup, who makes 24 % less than average CEO pay in the food industry.
Arguments explaining women’s overall pay being 77% that of men – all things being equal such as education and experience – still don’t address the phenomenon among the very highest achievers, where women have proven themselves to be more aggressive than men when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder, indeed willing to sacrifice personal lives and promote their ambitions to others.
Still, women make up less than 15% of the top rungs in the corporate ladder, despite their ambitions.
That clunk you just heard was the sound of a glass ceiling smacking Mary Barra in the head.
h/t: Think Progress