chart of companies run by women vs. male names

Chart of the Day: More large companies are run by men named “John” than by women

Inspired by a recent report that calculated that there are more men named John, Robert, William or James than there are women on the boards of large companies, an economist at the New York Times has applied this index to a variety of institutional contexts. 

chart of companies run by women vs. male names

Chart source: Execucomp via NYT

Turning to the CEOs of those major companies, for example, reveals an even more egregious stat: For each woman CEO, there are four men named John, Robert, William or James. In fact, the number of companies run by men named John exceeds those run by women. (Same with David.)

Of course, the index isn’t a particularly accurate gauge of gender inequality in all contexts — in institutions that are more ethnically diverse, for example, or that draw from a younger generation with more Jacobs and Tylers than Johns and Bobs. But it’s still a revealing/depressing experiment.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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