AOM Unveils Research on—and Serves as an Example of—Workplace Gender Equality and Women in Leadership

26 Feb 2020
In advance of International Women’s Day on March 8 and Women’s History Month, the Academy of Management (AOM), the largest global organization devoted to management and organization research, shares academic studies exploring workplace gender equality and women in leadership.

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y., Feb. 27, 2019 – In advance of International Women’s Day on March 8 and Women’s History Month, the Academy of Management (AOM), the largest global organization devoted to management and organization research, shares academic studies exploring workplace gender equality and women in leadership.

The research informs the current state of workplace gender equality and women in leadership, and reveals the need for organizations across the world to improve workplace gender equity.

The Current State of Workplace Gender Equality 

The following research studies, conducted independently, help reveal the current state of gender equality and women in leadership across global business organizations.

Multiple studies found that all too often women are not offered top leadership roles when the opportunity arises.

When Women or Minorities Check in as CEOs, White men Check out

  • AOM scholars reviewed 1,000 large and mid-sized public U.S. companies with more than $50 million in sales. 589 of these companies had CEO changes, with the new CEOs comprising 483 white men, 61 white women, 45 racial minority men and zero racial minority women.

Of the best performing companies in the world, the odds of a woman succeeding another woman as CEO were found to be small.

Three Recipes for Success for Female CEOs

  • Researchers identified 84 cases of women becoming CEOs at S&P 1500 and Fortune 500 firms between 1992 and 2009. In those cases, there was only one instance of a woman succeeding another woman as CEO.

How does gender inequality impact female venture capital firm owners? Research revealed more disproportionate findings.

How Female Entrepreneurs can Beat the VC Funding Bias

  • The study revealed that firms owned by women account for nearly 40% of U.S. privately held companies. Despite this percentage, firms owned by women only received 2% of total venture capital funding.

In instances where women leadership is present, AOM research found that this could be attributed to what is called “token diversity.”

‘Twokenism’: Why top U.S. Firms’ Boards Have Two Women

  • This study found that from 2004 to 2013, most S&P 1500 company board of directors had precisely two women, presumably to avoid negative publicity.

These studies present a stark reality, reaffirming that there is significant progress to be made by the world’s organizations to achieve greater gender equality and women in leadership.

AOM Serves as an Example of Gender Equality and Women in Leadership

In tandem with research findings, AOM as a member-led organization is an example of the value of gender equality. AOM’s leadership is elected by its 20,000 members, who have consistently elected women in leadership.

Spanning the last 20 years, the four most recent AOM member presidents have been women with the next president, Villanova University management professor Quinetta Roberson, continuing the tradition. Additionally, four of five current AOM Board of Governors officers are women and six of nine current Board of Governors representatives-at-large are women. Further, all of AOM’s editorial teams and Division and Interest Group leadership teams have proportionate representation of women.

“Gender equality and women in leadership are hugely important topics that have a significant impact on an organization’s success,” current AOM member president, California State University, San Bernardino professor Jacqueline Coyle-Shapiro noted. “Our 20,000 members have elected women in leadership positions who have helped create gender equity across our organization and in corresponding research.”

“As a result of an inclusive member organization and diverse leadership structure, we’ve created a culture that combines academic rigor and excellence with notions of inclusion, cohesion, volunteerism, collective consensus and creative scholarly imagination,” Coyle-Shapiro continued. “We’re proud to provide the world with published journals that inform how businesses and organizations can operate smarter, more equitably and effectively.”

Research on Creating Gender Equality

AOM scholar research concluded that organization-wide policies and programs that promote gender equality are needed. Research showed individual managers are largely incapable of creating a workplace culture that supports gender equality and women in leadership positions. Successful initiatives must have buy-in from the entire organization.

The following research concluded that evidence-based studies could better level the playing field.

Women’s Career Self-Help Books: Pros and Cons

  • Research authors revealed how self-help books are not optimal solutions for achieving workplace gender equality and women in leadership positions. The researchers found evidence placing the responsibility for change on the entire organization, signaling the need for an organizational call-to-action for achieving systemic gender equality improvement.

Why and When Does the Gender Gap Reverse? Diversity Goals and the Pay, Premium for High Potential Women

  • Scholars called for organizational leaders to diversify job applicant pools and seek other sources or departments within the company to find high-profile women who might succeed in leadership roles. To avoid reverse discrimination liabilities, the scholars suggested organizations review compensation policies and carefully monitor pay equity issues.

As the research shows, creating gender equality must be a unified commitment across the organization. It is the responsibility of entire companies, from the CEO down, to commit necessary resources to create workplaces that are more equitable.

Understanding the need for an organizational commitment to accomplishing gender equality, Roberson, AOM’s next president, seeks to continue AOM’s legacy of gender equality amongst its 20,000 members.

“24 years ago, I became an AOM member. Each year, I experienced the value of an organization that is comprised of diverse perspectives, insights and academic leadership. From mentorship to exposure to new worldviews and academic research, women in leadership helped pave the way for personal and professional growth for thousands of the world’s top academic scholars,” Roberson commented. “It will be an honor to help build onto AOM’s existing legacy in supporting gender equality while scholar members continue their valuable research that will help create more inclusive workplaces across the world.”

Media may request copies of the aforementioned research and interviews with the authors by contacting

About the Academy of Management

The Academy of Management is the largest global association devoted to management and organization research, with 20,000 members from more than 120 countries across six continents. In addition to Insights, an online magazine with easy-to-read, evidence-based research for managers and business leaders, AOM publishes six top-rated journals with the most authoritative and diverse management research findings. For more information, visit