CEOs, Masculinity, and Language

68 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2022 Last revised: 8 Feb 2023

See all articles by Brad Cannon

Brad Cannon

Binghamton University

John Lynch

Hofstra University - Department of Finance

Date Written: December 29, 2022


The lack of female CEOs and the persistent gender pay gap, especially at higher income levels, have become popular topics both in academics and society. Most studies focus on the differences between males and females that perpetuate this “glass ceiling,” while few look at within-gender traits that lessen its effects. In this paper, we use novel measures of CEO and CFO vocal masculinity and language complexity to gain insight into how these individual-level traits influence executive status and compensation both within and across genders. The results show that vocal masculinity affects the likelihood of becoming a CEO for both males and females, with a particularly strong impact on female executives at firms with a higher proportion of female board members, and male executives at firms with a higher proportion of male board members. Additionally, we find differences in the usage of complex language between CEOs and CFOs, and across genders. Differences in CEO-CFO language complexity are greater at low entrenchment firms while differences in masculinity are greater at high entrenchment firms. Lastly, for both male and female CEOs, compensation is positively related to masculinity, while increased language complexity only matters for females. These results help provide insight into the determinants of CEO status and compensation and may help explain how boards view and reward perceived competency across genders.

Keywords: Gender, Executive Hiring, Compensation, Governance, Masculinity, Communication

JEL Classification: G30, J24, J33, J70

Suggested Citation

Cannon, Brad and Lynch, John, CEOs, Masculinity, and Language (December 29, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Brad Cannon

Binghamton University ( email )

United States
8015899901 (Phone)

John Lynch (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Department of Finance ( email )

Hempstead, NY 11550
United States

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