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Female Leadership and Gender Gap within Firms: Evidence from an Italian Board Reform

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  • Maida, Agata

    (University of Milan)

  • Weber, Andrea

    (Central European University)

Abstract

Over the last decade, several countries have followed the Norwegian example and introduced laws mandating gender quota for corporate board membership. The main aim of these laws is breaking the "glass ceiling" which prevents women from advancing into top corporate positions. In this paper, we evaluate the Italian law of 2011, which installed a step-wise increase in gender quota that remain effective for three consecutive board renewals of listed limited liability firms. We link firm-level information on board membership and board election dates with detailed employment and earnings records from the Social Security registers. Exploiting the staggered introduction of the gender quota regulation and variation in board renewals across firms, we evaluate the effect of the board gender composition on measures of gender diversity in top positions over a period of 4 years. While the reform substantially raised the female membership on corporate boards, we find no evidence of spillover effects on the representation of women in top executive or top earnings positions. Our results confirm the findings by Bertrand et al. (2019) who study the introduction of a gender quota for board members in Norway. Given that Italy is a much less egalitarian society than Norway, with a larger scope of establishing gender equality, our results confirm that board quota policies alone are ineffective in raising female representation in top corporate positions, at least in the short run.

Suggested Citation

  • Maida, Agata & Weber, Andrea, 2019. "Female Leadership and Gender Gap within Firms: Evidence from an Italian Board Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 12099, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12099
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    13. Luca Flabbi & Claudia Piras & Scott Abrahams, 2017. "Female corporate leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean region: Representation and firm-level outcomes," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 38(6), pages 790-818, September.
    14. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Moritz Drechsel-Grau & Felix Holub, 2020. "Gender Gaps and the Role of Bosses," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_2020_237, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    2. Julia Bachtrögler & Julia Bock-Schappelwein & Paul Eckerstorfer & Peter Huber & Christine Mayrhuber & Mark Sommer & Gerhard Streicher, 2019. "Wachstumsfaktor Gleichstellung. Der ökonomische Nutzen von Gender Budgeting in Wien," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 65741.
    3. Heining, Jörg & Jäger, Simon & Schoefer, Benjamin, 2019. "Labor in the Boardroom," CEPR Discussion Papers 14151, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Janys, Lena, 2020. "Evidence for a Two-Women Quota in University Departments across Disciplines," IZA Discussion Papers 13372, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Theodoropoulos, Nikolaos & Forth, John & Bryson, Alex, 2019. "Are Women Doing It For Themselves? Gender Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 12657, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Alexandra Fedorets & Anna Gibert & Norma Burow, 2019. "Gender Quotas in the Boardroom: New Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1810, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Macchiavello, Rocco & Menzel, Andreas & Rabbani, Atonu & Woodruff, Christopher, 2020. "Challenges of Change: An Experiment Promoting Women to Managerial Roles in the Bangladeshi Garment Sector," CEPR Discussion Papers 15085, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Biasi, Barbara & Sarsons, Heather, 2020. "Flexible Wages, Bargaining, and the Gender Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 13754, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Stephan Klasen & Anna Minasyan, 2021. "Affirmative Action and Intersectionality at the Top: Evidence from South Africa," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 3-35, January.
    10. Casarico, A. & Lattanzio, S., 2019. "What Firms Do: Gender Inequality in Linked Employer-Employee Data," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1966, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    11. Morsy, Hanan & El-Shal, Amira & Woldemichael, Andinet, 2019. "Women Self-Selection out of the Credit Market in Africa," MPRA Paper 100395, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Jaan Masso & Jaanika Meriküll & Priit Vahter, 2020. "The Role Of Firms In The Gender Wage Gap," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 120, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender quota; corporate board reform; glass ceiling; female employment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)

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