Who’s missing from Xi and Modi’s class photos?
It’s a tired cliche, but a picture really is worth a thousand words. Just check out the “class photos” from Chinese President Xi Jinping (above) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s (below) recent U.S. visits with CEOs.
Notice anything missing? That’s right, there are barely any women in the pics.
Both heads of state made a point of meeting with the technorati and other business leaders on their respective trips. (As Fortune editor Alan Murray points out, America’s political influence in the world may be in decline, but its commercial influence is as great as ever.) And both took eerily similar, super-staged group shots: themselves in the center, flanked by rows of (mostly American) execs.
In President Xi’s photo, taken at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, he is sandwiched between IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. Also in the pic—the CEOs of Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Facebook, Qualcomm, Intel, Airbnb and other companies. Yet the only other woman sharing the frame with Rometty is AMD chief executive Lisa Su. Out of the 30 business leaders and dignitaries pictured, just two are female—a total of about 7%.
Moving on to Prime Minister Modi’s photo, taken at a dinner hosted by Fortune: His shot included a few more women, like Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi and, again, IBM’s Rometty. But it also included a few more men, bringing the percentage of women in the photo only slightly higher, to about 10%. (It is interesting to note that in the two images, the few women in attendance were mostly given prominent placement—especially Rometty, who stands next to Xi and Modi in both shots.)
It’s no surprise, of course, that these numbers are what they are. After all, there are only 23 female CEOs on the Fortune 500, which is an even lower percentage than the female representation in Xi and Modi’s pics. But even though we are well aware of the stats, seeing this reality reflected in photos packs a powerful punch: When it comes to reaching gender parity in the business world, we have such an incredibly long way to go.
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For more on Chinese President Xi Jinping, check out this Fortune video: