Women Are Outnumbered By Men Named John in These Leadership Roles

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Male Leader

Bruce Mars / Pexels

AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis
June 14, 2024 at 1:44AM UTC
Johns represent 3.3 percent of the population, while women represent 50.8 percent. Nonetheless, it can be as easy to find a man named John as it is to find a woman in some of America's top leadership roles — and sometimes even easier.
Fewer Republican senators are women than men named John, for example. Fewer Democratic governors are women than men named John. And there are fewer women cabinet members than women named John, James, Daniel and David, combined, according to The New York Times Glass Ceiling Index, which counted the women and men in important leadership roles in American life (politics, law, business, tech, academia, film and news media).
The index found that chief executives and directors of last year’s top-grossing films have the lowest rates of women, followed by top venture capitalists and House Republicans, and then by groups of politicians from both parties: Republican senators and governors and Democratic governors. But those weren't the most shocking findings. Men with the name John appeared as much as, if not more than, women in many of the categories.
The index was inspired by a 2015 Ernst & Young report that found that women made up 16 percent of board members of companies on the S.&P. 1500, less than the share of board seats held by men named John, Robert, James and William. The Upshot first published the Glass Ceiling Index three years ago and Justin Wolfers, economist and Upshot contributor, calculated the ratio of women to men who had four of the most common male names in various categories. Since then, The New York Times has reported that the proportion of women at the top hasn’t improved much.
"The prevalence of men in power with particular names is revealing not only of skewed gender representation, but also of the whiteness of many institutions of American politics, culture and education," the Times summary on the new information reads. "White men continue to dominate many categories of leadership in America, as our Times colleagues showed in an analysis in 2016."

The Glass Ceiling Index could change if more women fill the pipeline, the summary suggests, but women are more likely to take breaks from their careers to raise children and, meanwhile, men at the top are more likely to mentor and promote people like themselves. Likewise, double standards that have women criticized for being assertive and ambitious stall women's progress.

"More likely, what will change sooner are the names of the men in charge — fewer Johns and Roberts and more Liams and Noahs," the summary concludes. 

AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.

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