Gender Doesn’t Affect CEO Reputations

Mary BarraThough we haven’t reached gender parity among Fortune 500 CEOs yet, according to new research, our perceptions of CEOs are looking pretty darn gender-equal.A study from PR firm Weber Shandwick found that male and female CEOs have essentially the same effect on a company’s reputation. Women in the corner office are just as likely as men to be seen as leading a “very strong” company, to be admired professionally, and to contribute to the market value of their firms with good press.Men and women CEOs are also seen as having many of the same “typical leader” traits, with few CEO traits being more associated with one gender or the other.“Our finding that women CEOs deliver return-on-reputation equal to male CEOs is highly encouraging,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist at Weber Shandwick. “Apparently, once women sit in the chief executive chair, they’ve proven themselves and their gender is no longer an issue.”Their study uncovered another pair of interesting findings: women executives are less likely than men to want to take on the CEO role, but when a company already has a female CEO, the other women in the C-suite become more interested in the top job.As the report authors note, their data makes a strong case for the value of women’s leadership organizations: “We can only conclude that if gender parity is a socially desirable goal, then a special effort must be made to encourage women to step up to the plate.” Hey, have they heard of our Power Tools course yet?