Top female executives may make it harder for other women to climb career ladder

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President Obama takes in the Cabinet Room in the White House, the most powerful boardroom in the world. There are currently seven women in President Obama’s cabinet.

A mixed gender management team can sometimes make it more difficult for other women to reach the higher levels of a company, according to new research published in the Strategic Management Journal.

By studying the number of women on the boards of S&P 1,500 Companies over a 20 year period, US researchers found that there was often an ‘implicit quota’ on the number of women that could occupy the top spots.

“The likelihood that a given position in a top management team is occupied by a woman is lower if another position on the same team is occupied by a woman,” the study states.

The researchers also found that companies often made a big effort to ensure there were at least some women on boards, but that this effort started to tail off once a slight reduction in the gender gap had been achieved. It was even found that in some cases there was a ‘resistance’ to having lots of women in senior roles.

The study found that the proportion of board positions occupied by women had risen from 1.6 percent in 1992 to 5.8 percent in 2000 and then to 8.7 percent in 2011. But in recent years, they said the trend had ‘flattened somewhat’ and ‘even turned negative ”.

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