The exterior of Alston Hall

Gender Parity, Not Gap, in CEO Pay

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Male and female CEOs are paid equally in corporate America, according to research by a team at The University of Alabama.

“Large corporations in America do not discriminate between male and female CEO compensation,” said Dr. Sandra Mortal, associate professor in UA’s Culverhouse College of Business. “Whether this is because the CEO position is so visible that it is difficult to discriminate in compensation or it is due to pressure from media and regulators, we do not know. All we can say at this point is that, when it comes to CEO compensation, men and women are treated equally.”

Mortal is co-author on an upcoming paper in the Strategic Management Journal along with Dr. Vishal Gupta, associate professor in UA’s Culverhouse College of Business, and Xiaohu Guo, a doctoral student in finance.

The team began studying CEO compensation in the United States after noticing academic papers and media articles about pay discrimination against women in the workforce, yet also a pay gap favoring women at the CEO level.

The popular press regularly publishes articles about gender pay gap in the workforce, and it has recently started talking of a ‘female premium’ in CEO compensation, according to the research. This is problematic because it may create a perception that women CEOs are paid much more than their male counterparts.

“Something just didn’t add up for us,” Mortal said.

Using compensation data from Execucomp, the study covers all forms of compensation, including base pay and stock options, from large public firms in the United States from 1996 to 2014. The researchers also examined shorter time windows during this period, finding consistent results.

The team found no gender bias in the remuneration provided to male and female CEOs. CEO compensation increased drastically over the years, and so have the number of women CEOs in corporate America, according to the study.

“Any investigation of gender differences in CEO compensation needs to account for time trends in the data,” Gupta said.


Zach Thomas, Culverhouse College of Commerce,; Adam Jones, UA communications,


Dr. Vishal Gupta, 205-348-8427,; Dr. Sandra Mortal, 205-348-7842,