Women on Top: The Sweet Sixteen.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner


My sophomore year in college, flush with feminism, I negotiated my first pay raise. My employer – a dorm mom with a new baby – was as shocked as I was when, after three hours caring for her baby, I blurted out that I expected to be paid $8 instead of the $6.50 per hour she handed me. Flustered, she handed me a pile of quarters to make up the difference. I felt an odd mix of emotions -- shame for asking for more money, and exhilaration that I’d gotten it.


Twenty five years later, good news from the ‘Equal Pay’ front lines. Although stubborn gender discrimination means on average, working women earn only 79 cents for every dollar paid their male colleagues, a small subset of women make vastly more than their male counterparts.


The group? The 16 female CEOs in the S&P 500, according to a new report on 2009 salaries from Bloomberg News. Carol Bartz, the CEO of Yahoo!, has a pay package of $47.2 million. Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld makes $26.3 million a year. Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi earns $15.8 million a year.


That’s a whole lot of quarters.