t’s a men’s club when it comes to the highest paid chief executives of public companies based in Los Angeles County.

Only two women appear on the Business Journal’s annual list of the 50 highest-compensated chief executives – and neither remains today in the CEO’s post at the company they once led here.

No. 6 Margaret Geordiadis of El Segundo-based Mattel Inc., was appointed in February 2017 and ousted this past April. No. 38, Julia Stewart of DineEquity, now DineBrands Global Inc. in Glendale, resigned in February 2017 after serving 15 years in the chief executive’s post.

The list is based on compensation data for 2017 culled from proxy statements and annual report filings.

Experts on female leadership and executive compensation cite several reasons why few women rank among the highest-compensated chief executives in L.A., including a couple of factors that reflect national circumstances. One is the small number of women who have ascended to a chief executive post, while another might be that some women face hurdles in negotiating pay packages on par with men.

The Business Journal’s most recent list of publicly traded companies in Los Angeles included 144 overall, with 12 that had female chief executives – or 8 percent. That compares with 5 percent of publicly traded companies on the Russell 3000 index in 2017, according to a blog on the index’s website by Catherine Yoshimoto, senior index product manager for FTSE Russell.

The local totals are nonetheless “woefully under-represented, and that has to change,” said Linda Griego, a Los Angeles businesswoman has served on five corporate boards, and currently is a director of Century City-based engineering and construction firm Aecom, where her duties also include service on the board’s compensation committee.

Landing a chief executive’s position doesn’t necessarily mean a woman will get a pay package on par with male peers.

“People – both men and women – tend to be much more skeptical of women running companies and, as a result, the women are rewarded less,” said Corinne Bendersky, professor of management and organization at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Less aggressive negotiating tactics by women may be part of the reason.

“This might have something to do with the negotiating approach taken by men versus women when they are hired as CEO,” said Annalisa Barrett, clinical professor of finance at the University of San Diego’s School of Business.

The key, Barrett said, lies in how performance targets are set for the often lucrative bonuses, stock options and grants that chief executives get. That’s significant, as base salary amounts are contributing less and less toward total compensation. The Business Journal list indicates that the 25 highest-compensated chief executives count on base salary for less than 10 percent of total compensation, with the rest in bonuses and stock awards frequently tied to measurements such as total shareholder return.

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