Women chief executives are at a greater risk of being fired than their male contemporaries, research has shown despite their number being much smaller than their counterparts.

Consultancy group Strategy&, which studied 2 500 of the largest public companies, found that over the last decade fewer than three in 10 male chief executives were ousted from their position while 40 percent of female bosses were forced out.

The researchers claim the higher rate of sackings among female chief executives was in part explained by companies feeling pressured into making higher risk appointments.

Per-Ola Karlsson, the joint author of the study, said some firms had made appointments on the “benefit of the doubt” because of cultural and political pressures in some countries.

He said companies were often too keen to appoint a female candidate to a top role – so much so that they were prepared to make a bolder choice, which stood a higher chance of going wrong.

“Companies may, on balance, take on a bit more risk because they do want to have a woman chief executive, and in some cases that risk was real,” Karlsson said.

The study comes less than six months after the European Parliament backed proposals that would force firms within the EU to ensure at least 40 percent of their boardroom members are women.

The German government is already set to introduce legislation that will require companies to give 30 percent of their non-executive board seats to women from 2016. – Daily Mail