Old glass ceilings are hard to break: Gender usage trends in annual reports☆

Tim Loughran, Bill McDonald


We examine gender usage in a sample of 89,195 annual reports filed with the SEC during 1996–2013. We find that, after adjusting for other effects, annual reports by younger firms use proportionally more female-linked words than documents created by older, more mature companies. This finding likely reflects gender-related cultural differences between young and old firms. We also report that gender usage differs dramatically across both industry and market values of equity. Historically male dominated industries and industries that do not sell directly to retail customers have lower ratios of female/male word usage while industries characterized as business-to-consumer have substantially higher relative female counts. Larger companies have higher public accountability and thus, as expected, have annual report language that more frequently uses female titles and personal pronouns.



EDGAR; Gender; Firm age; Annual reports; Textual analysis


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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896