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Beyond the glass ceiling: Does gender matter?

The representation of women in top corporate officer positions is steadily increasing. However, little is known about the impact this will have. A large literature documents that women are different from men in their choices and in their preferences, but most of this literature relies on samples of college students or workers at lower levels in the corporate hierarchy. If women must be like men to break the glass ceiling, we might expect gender differences to disappear among top executives. In contrast, using a large survey of all directors of publicly-traded corporations in Sweden, we show that female and male directors differ systematically in their core values and risk attitudes. While certain population gender differences disappear at the director level, others do not. Consistent with the findings for the Swedish population, female directors are more benevolent and universally concerned, but less power-oriented than men. However, they are less traditional and security-oriented than their male counterparts. Furthermore, female directors are slightly more risk-loving than male directors. This suggests that having a women on the board need not lead to more risk-averse decision-making.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1172.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1172
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  1. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  2. Muriel Niederle & Carmit Segal & Lise Vesterlund, 2008. "How Costly is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," NBER Working Papers 13923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Adams, Ren馥 B. & Ferreira, Daniel, 2008. "Women in the Boardroom and Their Impact on Governance and Performance," CEI Working Paper Series 2008-7, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  4. Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales & Luigi Guiso, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," NBER Working Papers 11999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David Fritzsche & E. Oz, 2007. "Personal Values’ Influence on the Ethical Dimension of Decision Making," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 75(4), pages 335-343, November.
  6. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  7. James Andreoni & Lise Vesterlund, 2001. "Which Is The Fair Sex? Gender Differences In Altruism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 293-312, February.
  8. Dollar, David & Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2001. "Are women really the "fairer" sex? Corruption and women in government," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 423-429, December.
  9. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
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