The topic of gender-pay disparity has been an issue ever since women made their mass entrance into the workforce in the 1960s. Depending on their age group, women can still make between 5% and 25% less than men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – on average, women made 79% of what men made in 2008. Though there has been much progress made in the past 20 years, the disparity still exists, despite outrageous headlines claiming that it has all but disappeared.
In Pictures: 5 "New" Rules For Safe Investing

A recent Bloomberg article reported that females CEOs for S&P 500 companies had finally cracked the "glass ceiling" by, on average, making more than men in 2009. However, it's hard to take this claim seriously when the data is so sparse; out of the entire 500 companies, only 16 of the companies had female CEOs. To investigate this further, we're going to look at six top female CEOs from Fortune 500 companies (there are 15 in total in the Fortune 500, 27 in the Fortune 1,000) and their comparable male counterparts (according to industry and market cap), and see how their education and experience stack up. These female CEOs are not necessarily the highest paid, but are at the top of some of the biggest countries in the world.

Food for Thought
The first CEO in Fortune's list is Patricia Woertz, the head of Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM), a company involved in every type of food production, as well as biofuels. Woertz has her undergraduate degree in accounting and has worked for the past 35 years, rising to the ranks of VP at Chevron before joining ADM as CEO. ADM's market cap is over $16 billion, and Woertz is paid $17.5 million.

Not that they're in the exact same space, but food distributor Sysco (NYSE:SYY) has a similar market cap ($17.5 billion). The last CEO to work a full year there, Richard J. Schnieders in 2008, had compensation around $10.5 million, according to Forbes. Schnieders has an undergraduate degree in mathematics and has worked in the food industry since 1970; he worked for Sysco in various positions, as VP and president of various divisions, before becoming CEO in 2000. With a similar work experience and education, Woertz wins out in this, probably owing to her experience and bringing a biofuel focus to the company.

A Healthy Wage
Our next CEO is Angela Braly, head of WellPoint (NYSE:WLP), a large health plan company. Braly was paid $9.8 million in 2009. Prior to becoming CEO in 2007, Braly was executive vice president and played a key role in many of WellPoint's large acquisitions. She has an undergraduate degree and a Juris Doctor, and has been in the workforce for around 25 years

WellPoint is a dominant health plan company in the U.S., with a market cap of $22 billion, it's hard to find a comparable male CEO for Braly, so we'll look at two other male CEOs. CEO of CIGNA Healthcare (NYSE:CI) (market cap $9.18 billion) David Cordani makes around $6.5 million, according to Businessweek, and has served as senior vice president, CFO and a plethora of other jobs in the industry; Cordani has both an undergrad in science and an MBA, as well as CFA and CPA designations.

Ron Williams, CEO of Aetna (NYSE:AET) (market cap $12.4 billion), was paid $38.12 million in 2008, according to Forbes, and has an undergrad in psychology and a Master of Science degree. Williams was formally a group president at WellPoint, and has served in large roles for a number of health insurance companies over the past 25 years.

Gas Prices
Third on Fortune's list of female CEOs is Lynn Elsenhans, chairman, president and CEO of one of the U.S.'s largest gasoline distributors, Sunoco (NYSE:SUN). Elsenhans makes far less than many other of the female CEOs, with annual compensation coming in at $1.9 million for a $3.55 billion company. Elsenhas has an undergrad degree from Rice and an MBA from Harvard, and has been working in the oil and gas industry for almost 30 years, serving as president and CEO of Shell Oil Company.

Not that they're completely comparable, but John Hess, who has been CEO of Hess Corporation (NYSE:HES) (market cap $17.91 billion) for 15 years, made $154.58 million in compensation in 2008, according to Forbes. Hess also as an MBA from Harvard, and his salary was the third highest CEO compensation in 2008.

Cola Wars
Last on our list of female CEOs is one of the most famous female CEOs in the world: Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP). Nooyi has been the CEO for the past three years, and before that was Pepsi's president and CFO, after having worked at Motorola, Johnson & Johnson and other companies since 1980. Nooyi has a bachelor's degree, an MBA and a master's in public and private management. For 2009, Nooyi was paid $13.4 million, and PepsiCo has a market cap of $101.4 billion.

Who better to compare Nooyi to than her main competitor's CEO, Coca-Cola's (NYS:KO) Muhtar Kent. Kent started as a salesman with the company after getting an MBA, and worked up the ranks, becoming president in 2006 and CEO in 2008. For 2009, Kent received $18.8 million in total compensation, and Coke has a market cap of $118 billion.

The Bottom Line
Most women in this list have the same education and experience as the male CEOs, but receive a lower pay. This is not scientific proof, and female CEOs, on average, make more than male CEOs in the S&P 500, but there only happen to be 16 female CEOs compared to 484 males. Though these women may make more on average, when you compare them to male CEOs in similar positions, they're still underpaid.

If you missed last week's news, check out Water Cooler Finance: Crying Over Spilled Oil, And Buffett Goes To Court.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    5 Apps Every Investment Banker Should Have

    Learn more about how apps for various platforms benefit investment banking, and discover five apps all investment bankers should download.
  2. Economics

    How Warren Buffett Made Berkshire A Winner

    Berkshire Fine Spinning Associated and Hathaway Manufacturing Company merged in 1955 to form Berkshire Hathaway.
  3. Your Practice

    How to Save for Retirement Like a Wealthy CEO

    Don't have a CEO's income? You can still employ a millionaire’s saving strategy when it comes to planning for retirement.
  4. Investing News

    The Top 5 Female CEOs to Watch Out For in 2016

    Here is why these five women CEOs will make a big impact in 2016.
  5. Personal Wealth & Private Banking

    Women, Invest In Your Financial Literacy

    Becoming financially literate should be on the to-do list of anyone who is not.
  6. Budgeting

    Got a Raise? 7 Smart Things to Do With It

    If you get a raise and spend all of it each month, from a wealth-building perspective you didn’t get a raise at all. Make that extra money work for you.
  7. Wealth Management

    Warren Buffett’s Frugal, So Why Aren’t You?

    Aside from his renowned investing prowess, Buffett is legendarily frugal.
  8. Your Practice

    Famous Women Financial Advisors You Should Know

    You've seen the financial gurus on TV but have you seen these top six financial advisors? They have a lot to offer and a wealth of experience in the field.
  9. Investing News

    By George: Investing The Soros Way

    Soros turned an original seed funding of $12 million into $20 billion by the first decade of the 21st century. Can regular folks invest like George Soros?
  10. Personal Finance

    Investing the George Soros Way

    Investing like Soros requires guts and confidence. Investors can learn much from his patience, discipline and research methods.
RELATED FAQS
  1. How does a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) affect my salary?

    Some companies build salary adjustments into their compensation structures to offset the effects of inflation on their employees. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does working capital include salaries?

    A company accrues unpaid salaries on its balance sheet as part of accounts payable, which is a current liability account, ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do financial advisors need to meet quotas?

    Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Does my employer's matching contribution count towards the maximum I can contribute ...

    Contributions to 401(k) plans come from employee salary deferral and employer match dollars. According to the IRS, employees ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How is marginal propensity to save calculated?

    Marginal propensity to save is used in Keynesian macroeconomics to quantify the relationship between changes in income and ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Short Selling

    Short selling is the sale of a security that is not owned by the seller, or that the seller has borrowed. Short selling is ...
  2. Harry Potter Stock Index

    A collection of stocks from companies related to the "Harry Potter" series franchise. Created by StockPickr, this index seeks ...
  3. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  4. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  5. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  6. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
Trading Center