Women remain all but absent among the highest paid executives at public companies in Los Angeles, according to the Business Journal’s annual accounting.

Just two women appear on this year’s list of the 50 best-paid chief executives — the same number as last year — with zero holdovers.

The scarcity of women on the list is not new. The number of women among the top 50 best-compensated chief executives of public companies in L.A. has remained virtually static for the past decade. During that time, the highest number of women to appear on the list was three in 2015. The low was zero in 2010.

The two women appearing on this year’s list are Eileen Drake, chief executive of El Segundo-based Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., whose compensation package totaled $5.5 million, and Therese Tucker, chief executive of Woodland Hills-based BlackLine Inc., whose compensation totaled $4.8 million. The pair were Nos. 45 and 47, respectively, on the 2019 Business Journal list.

The list is based on compensation data for 2018 that is pulled from proxy statements and annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Drake and Tucker’s salaries were a fraction of the best-compensated chief executives on the list, which was topped by Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger, who pulled in $65.7 million in 2018.

Experts on women in leadership roles and executive compensation cite several reasons why few women rank among the highest-compensated chief executives of public companies in L.A., including lack of representation on boards where pay decisions are made.

“My best assessment is that when more women serve on corporate boards, there will be more equitable treatment of compensation for women,” said Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, who runs the Los Angeles-based executive research firm Berkhemer Clayton Inc.

“Corporate boards are there to represent the interests of shareholders, and they are responsible for hiring and firing CEOs and managing overall compensation, for CEOs and senior executives. That’s one reason why CEOs are less than thrilled about women coming on board,” Berkhemer-Credaire said. “Logically, they might think their compensation may be at risk — on the male side. Women CEOs are very cognizant of equitable pay.”

Berkhemer-Credaire, who is also chief executive for the nonprofit organization behind the 2020 Women on Boards campaign, led an effort to get California lawmakers to pass the first law in the United States to require gender diversity on corporate boards — partly as a way to break male dominance among corporate directors and get better pay for women executives.


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