Viewpoint: Why do we preface 'CEO' with 'female'?

Saying "female CEO" instead of simply "CEO" perpetuates the idea that women in the C-suite are outliers, according to a Sept. 6 article in Forbes by Saundra Pelletier, CEO of Evofem Biosciences, a company that specializes in women's healthcare. 

Ms. Pelletier writes that society and the media continue to preface the title "CEO" with "female" even after abandoning the convention for lower hierarchial roles. 

She asserts that although there are not as many female CEOs as male CEOs, they have proven their ability to perform. According to Frank Research Group, 87 percent of Fortune 500 companies led by female CEOs reported above-average profits, compared to 78 percent of companies with male CEOs. 

Despite those statistics, Ms. Pelletier writes that people are surprised to see women in such a powerful role because they traditionally have taken on roles as mediators and martyrs. However, adding the label "female" to the CEO title centralizes gender rather than the hard work necessary to get to the top, she writes. 

"[Using gendered clarifiers] caps our daughters from believing there is no glass ceiling," Ms. Pelletier says. 

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