Highest-Paid Woman CEO Used to Be a Man

martine-rothblatt

When it comes to cracking the list of highest-paid CEOs, those born male have an obvious advantage

How much do men dominate the list of the country’s highest-paid CEOs? So much that even the woman at the top of a new list of the best-paid female CEOs was born male.

Martine Rothblatt’s success is good news for transgender visibilty: She is certainly one of the world’s wealthiest transgenders, if not the wealthiest. But the list brings yet more evidence of gender inequity at the highest levels of business. When it comes to dominating CEO pay, it clearly helps to have been born male.

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The mention of Rothblatt’s gender reassignment comes nine paragraphs into a recent New York Times story on the highest-paid female chief executive officers. The Times notes that on its annual list of the 200 highest-paid CEOs in the United States, there were just 11 women — 5.5 percent of the total. Equilar, which tracks compensation, compiled the list for the Times.

Rothblatt, born Martin Rothblatt, had her first business success while male. Rothblatt started Sirius Satellite Radio, now SiriusXM, and was married to a woman and had four children before undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 1994.

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When one her children was diagnosed with a disease, she launched United Therapeutics in 1996 and helped develop a drug to fight the illness.

Last year, she received $38 million in compensation, most of it in stock options, making her the highest-paid woman CEO and the only woman to crack the list of the Top 10 best-paid CEOs overall.

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The second highest-compensated female CEO on the list is Yahoo’s Marissa A. Mayer, who is only the 34th highest-paid CEO overall.

Rothblatt has been an outspoken advocate of transgender people since the 1990s. She wrote the 1995 book “The Apartheid of Sex: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender” and has appeared on Sirius’ “Howard Stern Show,” among other programs.