After 12 years at the helm of the multinational food and beverage conglomerate, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi announced on Monday that she would retire from her position in October. Nooyi will be succeeded by Ramon Laguarta, the head of PepsiCo’s Europe and sub-Saharan Africa business, who has been with the company for 22 years. In an interview with the New York Times, the 62-year-old departing CEO said she was stepping down now in part to spend more time with her 86-year-old mother:
“You reach a point where you get tired,” Ms. Nooyi said. “Physically tired. And your family starts to demand more time of you. I’ve reached that point.” Inside PepsiCo, Ms. Nooyi was known for working incredibly long hours — as many as 20 hours a day, often seven days a week. When asked Monday whether she felt that made her a good role model for other women, Ms. Nooyi said, “probably not.”
“But you have to remember when I started working in this corporate world, there were hardly any women in the jobs I was in. At that time, 30 or 40 years ago, expectations for women were unreasonable. We had to produce a better product and do everything much better than the men in order to move ahead,” Ms. Nooyi said.
Nooyi’s departure will leave just 24 women leading S&P 500 companies, according to the non-profit organization Catalyst, though that number will bounce back up to 25 again when Kathy Warden takes up her new post as CEO of Northrop Grumman next January. Other women have stepped down from CEO roles at big companies this year, however, including Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup and Irene Rosenfeld of the snack food maker Mondelez International, so the gender balance of this exclusive club is on a downward trend.
Nooyi has discussed her remarkable path to corporate leadership in a number of interviews, as well as why more women don’t make it to the top. In her view, the dearth of women in the C-suite has less to do with sexist conceptions of what leadership looks like and more to do with a pipeline problem, Vauhini Vara explains at the Atlantic, pointing to an interview she gave on the Freakonomics podcast earlier this year. That’s because the critical point in many professionals’ careers coincides with the time in their lives when they become parents and raise their children—a responsibility that still falls primarily on women:
In discussions of diversity and inclusion, particularly in the tech sector, Asian Americans are often left out. Because their representation in the tech workforce is high relative to their presence in the US as a whole, tech sector diversity reports do not treat Asian Americans as underrepresented minorities, diversity initiatives don’t focus on recruiting them, and relatively little attention is paid to whether they are given opportunities for career advancement and leadership roles.
However, just because Asian Americans are well represented in science and technology professions, that doesn’t mean they don’t experience racial bias. Joan C. Williams, Marina Multhaup, and Rachel Korn, researchers at the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, have been studying the impact of gender and racial bias in STEM professions for the past few years. “Our research,” they write at the Atlantic, “has found that Asian Americans, especially women, often face significant career hurdles tied to perceptions about ethnicity and race”:
For one approach, we developed a 10-minute survey that picks up major patterns of racial and gender bias. When we gave an early version to more than 3,000 American engineers, Asian American men and women were much more likely than white men to report that they had to prove themselves more than their colleagues. Most of the 3,000 respondents were women, which makes it hard to draw conclusions about Asian American men. But our data are clear that Asian American women, at least, face the same kind of “prove it again” bias that has been documented for decades in studies of women and black people. Despite being stereotyped as competent, Asian American women still report that they have to provide more evidence of competence than white men in order to be seen as equal.
“If you’re perfect, we might accept you. But if you’re not perfect, forget it,” summarized an Asian American woman in a 2014 study of science professors by our center, with contributions from Katherine W. Phillips of Columbia University and Erika V. Hall of Emory University. …
Neha Thirani Bagri at Quartzparses a new study finding that high-income, high-skill white women lost an average of 10 percent of their income per child when they took time away from work to raise children, while white low-income, low-skill white women lost between 4 and 7 percent per child:
The trend wasn’t the same for women of all ethnicities. Overall, black women paid a lower monetary penalty—3% to 4%—than white women, and the penalties for black women did not vary considerably by skill level or income. The study didn’t offer an explanation for these racial differences in penalties.
Mothers who stay home to raise their children not only sacrifice the earnings they forego when they miss work, but their income years later reflects lost raises. The findings suggest that this particularly privileged group loses more because—not despite—of having more experience. Because their wages grow at the fastest rate, even a small period of time away from work means that they lose out on a large amount of salary growth. So even though this group often takes the least time off work, presumably because they can afford childcare, it costs them the most.
Paula England, the New York University sociologist who was the lead author of the paper, elaborates on the findings to Pacific Standard’s Tom Jacobs:
“Any tiny bit (of time) they drop out causes them to lose big raises, because these are the women who get the big raises,” England explained in an email exchange. In terms of income, she wrote, they are “on an escalator, so there is more to lose in raises if they leave even for a little bit.” …
The latest report on women in the workplace from Lean In and McKinsey focuses on the challenges women still face when it comes to getting ahead in corporate America. Quartz’s Oliver Staley highlights the report’s key findings:
For every 100 women promoted past entry level positions, 130 men are promoted. Women are less likely to receive challenging assignments, participate in meetings and have access to senior leaders. And the pipeline of promotion shows women are being passed over at every stage (men and women are dropping out of the workplace at equal rates, so the numbers can’t be blamed on attrition) …
The survey revealed that more women then men asked for a raise, 29% to 27%, but that in response, 30% of women were told that they were being “bossy,” “aggressive,” or “intimidating,” compared to 23% of men. Women also say they receive less feedback from managers than men. While 46% of men say they receive difficult feedback, only 36% of women do. Managers say the biggest reason they fail to give women feedback is a fear of being mean or hurtful.