She’-E-O Compensation Gap: A Role Congruity View

  • Joyce C. Wang
  • Lívia Markóczy
  • Sunny Li Sun
  • Mike W. Peng
Original Paper


Is there a compensation gap between female CEOs (She’-E-Os) and male CEOs? If so, are there mechanisms to mitigate the compensation gap? Extending role congruity theory, we argue that the perception mismatch between the female gender role (that assumes communal traits) and the leadership role (that assumes agentic traits) may lead to lower compensation to female CEOs, resulting in a gender compensation gap. Nevertheless, the compensation gap may be narrowed if female CEOs display agentic traits through risk-taking, or alternatively, work in female-dominated industries where communal traits are valued. Additionally, we expect that female CEOs’ risk-taking is less effective in reducing the gender compensation gap in female-dominated industries due to the conflicting emphases on agentic and communal traits. Leveraging a sample of Chinese publicly listed firms, we find support for our hypotheses. Overall, this study contributes to the ethics literature on income inequality issues, by highlighting the effectiveness of potential mechanisms to close the gender compensation gap between female and male CEOs.


Gender compensation gap Agentic traits Communal traits Female CEOs Female-dominated industry Risk-taking Role congruity theory 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joyce C. Wang
    • 1
  • Lívia Markóczy
    • 1
  • Sunny Li Sun
    • 2
  • Mike W. Peng
    • 1
  1. 1.Jindal School of ManagementUniversity of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  2. 2.Manning School of BusinessUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA

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