CEOs heading America's 500 largest firms have taken a beating on their paychecks for the first time in five years, but the 13 female members of this elite club, headed by India-born chief of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi, have a reason to smile with a trend-defying hike.
According to the data compiled by US business magazine Forbes, CEOs of the 500 largest companies in US saw their compensation dwindle by an average 15 per cent in 2007, but the 13 female CEOs saw their pay jump by an average 27 per cent.
But despite the hike, the average salary of female CEOs is still just about half of the overall average.
"The average take, including salary and bonuses, for all 500 CEOs was $12.8 million double the female average of $6.5 million," Forbes said.
The fall in the total CEO compensation for these firms is the first since 2002 and comes after a "juicy 38 per cent collective pay increase in 2006," Forbes said.
Forbes has named PepsiCo chief Nooyi as the top-paid female CEO in the US with a $12.7 million pay packet.
Nooyi, who has been named as the fifth most powerful women in the world, is ranked 139th in terms of CEO pay for the 500 top companies in the US, as per Forbes.
Forbes said Nooyi's total compensation was just one- fourteenth that of the highest-paid man on the list, Oracle's Larry Ellison, who took home a modest $one million in salary but realized $182 million from the exercise of vested stock
While noting that a wide gap still remains between the salaries of male and female CEOs, Forbes said compensation experts suggest that the ranks of women CEOs would "continue to expand as more large companies look to boost diversity among senior-level management."
Catalyst, an organisation promoting women in business, said last week that the number of women officers tend to grow higher in firms having larger number of female directors.