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Diagnosing Discrimination: Stock Returns and CEO Gender

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  • Wolfers, Justin

Abstract

A vast labour literature has found evidence of a 'glass ceiling', whereby women are under-represented among senior management. A key question remains the extent to which this reflects unobserved differences in productivity, preferences, prejudice, or systematically biased beliefs about the ability of female managers. Disentangling these theories would require data on productivity, on the preferences of those who interact with managers, and on perceptions of productivity. Financial markets provide continuous measures of the market’s perception of the value of firms, taking account of the beliefs of market participants about the ability of the men and women in senior management. As such, financial data hold the promise of potentially providing insight into the presence of mistake-based discrimination. Specifically if female-headed firms were systematically under-estimated, this would suggest that female-headed firms would outperform expectations, yielding excess returns. Examining data on S&P 1500 firms over the period 1992-2004 I find no systematic differences in returns to holding stock in female-headed firms, although this result reflects the weak statistical power of our test, rather than a strong inference that financial markets either do or do not under-estimate female CEOs.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5507.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5507

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Keywords: CEO pay; CEOs; chief executive officer; discrimination; event study; excess returns; female CEOs; statistical discrimination;

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  1. Bertrand, Marianne & Schoar, Antoinette, 2003. "Managing With Style: The Effect of Managers on Firm Policies," Working papers 4280-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  2. Paul A. Gompers & Joy L. Ishii & Andrew Metrick, 2001. "Corporate Governance and Equity Prices," NBER Working Papers 8449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin Hallock, 1999. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," Working Papers 805, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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