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Women’s Leadership and Corporate Performance


  • Qian, Meijun

    (Australian National University)


This paper examines the gender diversity in corporate boardrooms in Asia and the Pacific and how the diversity affects corporate performance. We find that boardroom gender diversity is low in Asia with 7.5% female representation on average in 2012, but showing a 1.8% improvement in 2013. The appointment of female directors and a gender-diverse boardroom are on average positively associated with a firm’s subsequent performance, but with large cross-country and cross-measurement differences. Firm performance is the highest when there are two females on the board. Using two-stage analyses, we find that (i) a firm’s past performance does not predict its choice to add female directors; (ii) cross-country differences in female corporate leadership respond to its economic demand and supply as measured by gender equality in college education, labor participation, wages, and infant survival; and (iii) female representation on the board, when determined by these economic factors, is a significant predictor of a firm’s future performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Qian, Meijun, 2016. "Women’s Leadership and Corporate Performance," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 472, Asian Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:adbewp:0472

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bin Srinidhi & Ferdinand A. Gul & Judy Tsui, 2011. "Female Directors and Earnings Quality," Contemporary Accounting Research, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 28(5), pages 1610-1644, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Hogarth, Robin M. & Karelaia, Natalia & Trujillo, Carlos Andrés, 2012. "When should I quit? Gender differences in exiting competitions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 136-150.
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    5. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, in: Charles R. Plott & Vernon L. Smith (ed.), Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 113, pages 1061-1073, Elsevier.
    6. Levi, Maurice & Li, Kai & Zhang, Feng, 2014. "Director gender and mergers and acquisitions," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 185-200.
    7. Kevin Campbell & Antonio Minguez Vera, 2010. "Female board appointments and firm valuation: short and long-term effects," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 14(1), pages 37-59, February.
    8. Farrell, Kathleen A. & Hersch, Philip L., 2005. "Additions to corporate boards: the effect of gender," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-2), pages 85-106, March.
    9. David A. Matsa & Amalia R. Miller, 2011. "Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling: Gender Spillovers in Corporate Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 635-639.
    10. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
    11. Huang, Jiekun & Kisgen, Darren J., 2013. "Gender and corporate finance: Are male executives overconfident relative to female executives?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 822-839.
    12. David A. Carter & Betty J. Simkins & W. Gary Simpson, 2003. "Corporate Governance, Board Diversity, and Firm Value," The Financial Review, Eastern Finance Association, vol. 38(1), pages 33-53, February.
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    1. Gaitán, Sandra & Herrera-Echeverri, Hernán & Pablo, Eduardo, 2018. "How corporate governance affects productivity in civil-law business environments: Evidence from Latin America," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 173-185.

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    More about this item


    corporate performance; development equality; director choices; female leadership;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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