How many companies are run by women, and why does it matter?


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Happy International Women’s Day! This is an important year to celebrate – from global politics to the Oscars last weekend, gender equality and inclusion are firmly on the agenda.

But outside movies and matters of government, we see the effects on gender equality every day, in how we live and work. One area we have data on comes from companies: what share of firms have a female CEO or top manager?

Only 1 in 5 firms worldwide have a female CEO or top manager, and it is more common among the smaller firms. While this does vary by around the world – Thailand and Cambodia are the only two countries where the data show more women running companies than men.

Better representation of women in business is important. It ensures a variety of views and ideas are represented, and when the top manager of a firm is woman, that firm is likely to have a larger share of permanent female workers.

Stay tuned for more data and discussion in the forthcoming 2018 edition of the Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals and the updates of Enterprise Surveys.


Masako Hiraga

Senior Statistician/Economist, Development Data Group, World Bank

Lynn Thiesmeyer
March 08, 2018

Dear Ms. Hiraga, Thanks very much for your work and blog posts. As a Southeast Asia development professor at Keio University, I am constantly being challenged when I say that some parts of East Asia - Pacific are not that far “behind” some Western countries, for example, in proportions of women in high-level positions. Does the IBRD have quick-view data comparing North America or the EU with the rest of the regions shown in the graph above? “World Regions” is a bit too much for the specific comparisons requested by my audience.

Bings Darling
March 12, 2018

The time has long gone when women should only be house wife. Women have to forge ahead and become leaders of modernization.

March 15, 2018

Nice report! Which dataset did you use to come up with these findings?

Loveness khunou
March 18, 2018

Great article