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Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling: Gender Spillovers in Corporate Leadership


  • David A. Matsa
  • Amalia R. Miller


This paper examines the role of women helping women in corporate America. Using a merged panel of directors and executives for large US corporations between 1997 and 2009, we find a positive association between the female share of the board of directors in the previous year and the female share among current top executives. The relationship's timing suggests that causality runs from boards to managers and not the reverse. This pattern of women helping women at the highest levels of firm leadership highlights the continued importance of a demand-side "glass ceiling" in explaining the slow progress of women in business.

Suggested Citation

  • David A. Matsa & Amalia R. Miller, 2011. "Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling: Gender Spillovers in Corporate Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 635-639, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:635-39

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher Avery & Susan Athey & Peter Zemsky, 2000. "Mentoring and Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 765-786, September.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 228-255, July.
    3. David A. Matsa & Amalia R. Miller, 2013. "A Female Style in Corporate Leadership? Evidence from Quotas," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 136-169, July.
    4. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 75-99, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul M. Guest, 2016. "Executive Mobility and Minority Status," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 604-631, October.
    2. Morikawa, Masayuki, 2016. "What types of companies have female directors? Evidence from Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37, pages 1-7.
    3. Levi, Maurice & Li, Kai & Zhang, Feng, 2014. "Director gender and mergers and acquisitions," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 185-200.
    4. repec:ces:ifodic:v:12:y:2014:i:2:p:19116215 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Vera Rocha & Mirjam van Praag, 2016. "How do Entrepreneurial Bosses influence their Employees' Future Entrepreneurship Choices?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-110/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Amalia R. Miller & Carmit Segal, 2014. "Do female officers improve law enforcement quality? Effects on crime reporting and domestic violence escalation," UBSCENTER - Working Papers 009, UBS International Center of Economics in Society - Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    7. Chen, Jie & Leung, Woon Sau & Goergen, Marc, 2017. "The impact of board gender composition on dividend payouts," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 86-105.
    8. Astrid Kunze & Amalia R. Miller, 2014. "Women Helping Women? Evidence from Private Sector Data on Workplace Hierarchies," NBER Working Papers 20761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Joanna Tyrowicz & Jakub Mazurek, 2017. "All on board? New evidence on board gender diversity from a large panel of firms," GRAPE Working Papers 5, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.
    10. Geiler, Philipp & Renneboog, Luc, 2015. "Are female top managers really paid less?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 345-369.
    11. Nina Smith, 2014. "Quota Regulations of Gender Composition on Boards of Directors," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(2), pages 42-48, 07.
    12. Lam, Kevin C.K. & McGuinness, Paul B. & Vieito, João Paulo, 2013. "CEO gender, executive compensation and firm performance in Chinese‐listed enterprises," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 1136-1159.
    13. Périlleux, Anaïs & Szafarz, Ariane, 2015. "Women Leaders and Social Performance: Evidence from Financial Cooperatives in Senegal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 437-452.
    14. Mohan, Nancy, 2014. "A review of the gender effect on pay, corporate performance and entry into top management," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 41-51.
    15. Scott Abrahams & Luca Flabbi & Claudia Piras, 2016. "Female Corporate Leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean Region: Representation and Firm-Level Outcomes," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7386, Inter-American Development Bank.
    16. Asiedu, Edward & Ibanez, Marcela, 2014. "The weaker sex? Gender differences in punishment across Matrilineal and Patriarchal Societies," Discussion Papers 165743, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    17. Masayuki Morikawa, 2014. "What Types of Companies Have Female and Foreign Directors?," AJRC Working Papers 1404, Australia-Japan Research Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    18. Joni Hersch, 2013. "Opting out among women with elite education," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 469-506, December.
    19. Masayuki Morikawa, 2014. "What Types of Company Have Female and Foreign Directors?," CAMA Working Papers 2014-47, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    20. Tate, Geoffrey & Yang, Liu, 2015. "Female leadership and gender equity: Evidence from plant closure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 77-97.
    21. Pipke, David & Pönitzsch, Gert, 2015. "Effekte der Frauenquote in Aufsichtsräten: Ein Ausblick für Deutschland," Kiel Policy Brief 93, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    22. Aleksandra Gregorič & Lars Oxelheim & Trond Randøy & Steen Thomsen, 2017. "Resistance to Change in the Corporate Elite: Female Directors’ Appointments onto Nordic Boards," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 141(2), pages 267-287, March.

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