When asked if they think their company would do better with a woman at the helm, most female executives say yes and a third of male executives agree.
Brouillard Communications surveyed executives at 1,000 of the largest public companies in the country.Three of those - Autodesk Inc., Warnaco Inc. and Golden West Financial - currently have female chief executive officers, a spokesman for Brouillard said.
The survey found that 99 percent of those questioned thought quality consciousness would improve under female leadership, and about 90 percent said they thought overall reputation would benefit or remain the same.
Of 416 male executives surveyed, 36 percent said they felt employee relations would improve with a female CEO, compared with 71 percent of 90 female executives asked.
"This shows that female executives really believe they can make a difference," James Foster, chairman and CEO of the advertising and public relations firm Brouil-lard, a division of J. Walter Thompson Co., said in a written release.
"What's really interesting, though, is that a significant percentage of men feel the same," Foster added.
Would communications activities improve with female leadership? Most, 71 percent, said they thought it would receive the same emphasis, but "virtually no one" said they believed communications activities would decline.
But the study also found that 26 percent of men and 13 percent of the women surveyed thought widespread leadership by women would make the United States less competitive abroad, while just 7 percent of men and 18 percent of women thought more female CEOs would improve the ability of U.S. companies to compete globally.
"Male executives, who comprised the majority of respondents, clearly perceive their female counterparts to have greater or equal strengths in the areas of internal and external communications and social responsibilities," Foster said.
"However, the one realm that female business leaders are still believed to be lacking in is competitiveness," he added. "Apparently, some stereotypes persist."