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'Pay gap' goes all the way to the top, survey finds

Thursday, June 3, 2010  
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An informal review of CEO compensation in large corporations shows the "pay gap" between male and female executives goes all the way to the top.

Only 16 companies in the S&P 500 companies have female CEOs, according to Investopedia, a Forbes company that recently looked at the experience and compensation of 6 of the 15 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Most of the half-dozen women reviewed have similar education and experience as comparable male CEOs, but receive lower pay, Investopedia found.

One exception is Patricia Woertz, CEO of food and biofuels conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland. Woertz holds an undergraduate degree in accounting and recent experience as vice president of Chevron. She is paid $17.5 million, Investopedia reported. She is one of a few female CEOs who outearns comparable male CEOs, such as Richard J. Schnieders, the last CEO to work a full year at similarly-sized food distributor Sysco. Schnieders earned approximately $10.5 million in 2008. He holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics and has worked in the food industry since 1970, including in various leadership positions at Sysco, before becoming CEO in 2000.

More typical is the compensation of Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint, the country’s dominant health plan company. Braly, who holds an undergraduate degree and a juris doctorate, and has been working for 25 years, earned $9.8 million last year, Investopedia reported. Prior to becoming CEO in 2007, she served as the company’s executive vice president and played a key role in many of WellPoint's large acquisitions. Meanwhile, Ron Williams, CEO of Aetna, was paid $38.12 million in 2008. He holds an undergrad degree in psychology and a master of science degree; Williams was a group president at WellPoint, and served in leadership roles for a number of health insurance companies for the past 25 years.

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