Key Takeaways

  • For a tailored outreach strategy, communicators working with female CEOs should target highly syndicated outlets to help close the media visibility gender gap.
  • Measurement approaches should take gender into account and consider female CEOs’ reputation impact, not just their media volumes.

In our analysis of CEO media representation, we found a significant gender disparity. While female CEOs lead 16% of companies in PublicRelay’s Benchmark dataset, they receive disproportionately less media attention compared to their male counterparts. Females account for only 5% of CEO mentions and quotes in news articles.

Social Media Amplifies Gender Disparity

This gender bias extends to social media users, where articles featuring female CEOs receive far fewer shares than those featuring male CEOs. On average, articles mentioning female CEOs are shared 42% less often than articles mentioning male CEOs. Similarly, on average, articles quoting female CEOs are shared 60% less often than articles quoting male CEOs.

Syndication Can Help Close the Gap

Syndication data is slightly less bleak. Female CEOs account for 5% of syndicated CEO mentions and 7% of syndicated articles featuring CEO quotes. In addition, the average syndication count for female CEO mentions and quotes is slightly higher than for their male counterparts.

Female CEOs Win on Sentiment

There is also a silver lining for female CEOs in media sentiment. Articles and quotes featuring female CEOs tend to have a more positive tone compared to those featuring male CEOs. This indicates a more favorable portrayal of female CEOs in the media.

Female CEOs Positively Impact Company Reputation

While male CEOs may have a slightly more positive personal brand, as measured by the ‘Perception Score’ element of PublicRelay’s CEO Index, female CEOs significantly outshine them in their impact on company reputation.

On average, female CEOs have a positive impact on their company’s reputation, with an ‘Impact Score’ of 2.2, whereas male CEOs’ impact on the brands they represent is actually negative on average, with a score of -0.74.

Diversity is Opportunity

The data highlights the persistent gender gap in CEO media representation and visibility. However, the positive media sentiment and impactful reputation of female CEOs compared to male CEOs underscore how important it is for brands to elevate diverse voices in corporate leadership.

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