The Gender Say Gap

For some years now, we have been campaigning to close The Gender Say Gap, a term we coined to highlight the invisibility of women and diverse leaders as expert authorities in business and public life.

At Man Bites Dog, we believe business should be a force for good and we campaign for change on important social issues including sustainability, economic development, entrepreneurship and diversity and inclusion. As a woman-owned business with a leadership team reflecting the gender balance of our workforce, gender equality is an issue we care about deeply and an area where we are well placed to make a difference.

For some years now, we have been campaigning to close The Gender Say Gap, a term we coined to highlight the invisibility of women and diverse leaders as expert authorities in business and public life. Since then, it’s been part of our mission at Man Bites Dog to increase the representation of women and diverse experts. We aim to foster say equality by asking leaders in business and the public sector, the marketing communications profession and the media to measure the diversity of the expert authorities they elevate as thought leaders and set targets for change. This year, we wanted to examine the other side of the representation equation – the media.

What is the Gender Say Gap?

Women are disproportionately the experts in the room. We are more likely to have a degree and to work in a high-status profession, so why aren’t we hearing from expert female authorities?

When we analyse the use of subject matter experts, women are still outnumbered 4-1 in conferences and up to 5-1 in the media!

The absence of female voices, ideas and insights is the elephant in every room: from the newsroom, where we write and feature in just a fraction of the news; to our underrepresentation in the boardroom and the editing room, where even Hollywood’s leading ladies lack parity of dialogue. What are we teaching our children about women’s right to speak?

Not hearing from expert female and diverse leaders means we’re only getting half the story, which means we face the consequences of huge gaps in information, representation and policy.

We are also missing an important opportunity to use visible diverse leaders to inspire the next generation.

The absence of women as thinkers and speakers for their organisations has to be called out and addressed. We must demand Say Equality and ensure our ideas and voices are heard.

As consultants and communications leaders, Man Bites Dog aims to use our influence to unleash a more diverse selection of thinkers and spokespeople to champion brands and corporates alike, working in partnership with like-minded organisations to ensure greater gender balance and diversity in those we elevate as thought leaders.

Here are some examples of ways in which we have been sharing this campaign, opening up the discussion and promoting the voices of inspiring and insightful women across a range of industries.

BBC Masterclass

As part of the BBC News 100 Women Programme, the Gender Say Gap featured as the topic of the “Make Yourself Heard” Masterclass. In a debate kicked off by our very own Claire Mason, and a roundtable discussion with Deepa Narayan, Alma Arzate and Enam Asiama, chaired by the BBC’s Nuala McGovern, you can learn how to find your voice and beat the Gender Say Gap.
> Watch the full Masterclass

The Gender News Gap

In partnership with Women in Journalism, Man Bites Dog has carried out the largest piece of research on gender inequality in UK journalism and media. Based on the opinions of 1,200 UK journalists, The Gender News Gap report provides insight into how the current gender imbalance impacts female journalists, the media and society more broadly. Read The Gender News Gap report, and watch the expert panel discussion below.

The Gender Say Gap in the House of Commons

See where our Gender Say Gap campaign began with our CEO and Founder Claire Mason’s speech in the House of Commons, and read the accompanying article.

Mind the Gender Gaps

In September 2021, Man Bites Dog took part in The Stir: Mind the Gender Gaps, a thought-leadership panel hosted by BritishAmerican Business. The discussion focused on the gaps that still exist for women in the workplace, including pay discrepancy, say inequality and age-based challenges, as well as policies that could encourage women to return to work after career breaks.

The PR Council

For International Women’s Day 2020, Man Bites Dog partnered with the PR Council (PRC) of America in a campaign to Close the Say Gap. Through this program, the PRC and its Member agencies have set a goal to collectively train at least 5,000 women as spokespersons for conferences, events and media interviews. They also pledge to only participate in panels with equal gender representation – no “manels” – and to spread awareness of the Say Gap and its impact on women and girls by sharing the problem and solutions on social media channels.
> Learn about the partnership with the PR Council

Inspiring Women in Business

In 2019, Claire spoke about the Gender Say Gap at Management Today’s Inspiring Women in Business conference, in a discussion aimed at shattering the glass ceiling and tackling the imminent talent shortages if gender inequality persists. What innovations will we miss out on if young women can’t see their future in the professions that shape our society and protect our planet?
> Read the full Management Today article

Women in PR

The PR industry is an example of an industry where women have succeeded and, as such, has a critical role to play in closing the Gender Say Gap. In partnership with Women in PR (WIPR) and Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), Claire aims to bring the media and communications industries together to increase gender equality and women’s representation in journalism.
> See how Women in PR can help

Influence Magazine

In 2019 we discussed how the PR industry can champion female spokespeople and help to close the Gender Say Gap, in an article for Influence, the quarterly magazine for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
> Read the full Influence article

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