An analysis of more than 155,000 company conference calls over 19 years found men spoke 92% of the time.
Forget about Chatty Cathys — it’s more like Chatty Charlies.
Men’s voices are basically the only ones heard on earnings calls, according to research commissioned by Bloomberg. Prattle, a company that uses artificial intelligence to parse central bank and corporate communications, analyzed more than 155,000 company conference calls held over the past 19 years — and found that men spoke 92% of the time.
Men also made 5 million of the total 5.4 million comments recorded on these earning calls. And when women did get a word in, they spoke an average of 4.5 times per call, compared with 6.1 times for men.
And we need to hear what these female analysts have to say, as a 2010 report published in the Journal of Accounting Research found that female equity analysts issue “bolder and more accurate forecasts” than men do, particularly in markets where their concentration is lower, because they self-select themselves so that only the strongest female analysts stick around.
Because the saddest reason that women’s voices weren’t being heard on calls is because they probably weren’t on the line most of the time. Male executives outnumber women, after all, and women make up just under 5% of all CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. And Bloomberg notes that among the 32 analysts who cover Bank of America Corp., for example, only three are women. Only three females are among the 45 analysts covering Apple Inc., as well. And there are no women among the 24 analysts covering Exxon Mobil Corp.
Plus, the men just talk more, period. “Male executives provide significantly more verbose answers to analyst questions than their female counterparts,” Prattle Chief Executive Officer Evan Schnidman told Bloomberg. “One could surmise that male executives are more prone to speaking simply to hear themselves speak.”
This isn’t limited to earnings and conference calls. Even when women have a seat at the table, men do 75% of the talking in the average business meeting, according to a 2012 Brigham Young University study. Male Supreme Court justices interrupt the female justices about three times more often than they interrupt each other during oral arguments. Men also speak twice as often as women do in academic conferences the top 50 colleges and universities in the country, according to a Rice University study published last year.
Plus University of Arizona research has also shown that when women often get ignored for speaking out at work, while men often receive increased leadership and influence. “It comes down to the legitimacy of men versus women in the workplace,” study author Elizabeth McClean, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, previously told Moneyish. “It’s more legitimate for a man to engage in these … more assertive behaviors, and it’s less so for women. It’s a cultural thing.”
And this makes it even more intimidating for women to speak up. Even Madeline Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, has admitted she used to fear speaking in meetings. “When I walked into my first meeting of the United Nations Security Council, there were 15 seats and 14 men—all looking at me. I thought, ‘Well, I don’t think I’ll talk today. I don’t know who everybody is … I want to figure out if they like me, and I want to kind of get a feeling for things,’” she told Time magazine. But then she realized, “If I do not speak today, the voice of the United States will not be heard.”
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