Edinburgh Research Explorer

Gender diversity and the spillover effects of women on boards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages52
JournalCorporate Governance
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Aug 2020


ResearchQuestion/Issue: This study seeks tounderstand the circumstances under which board behavior is affected by genderdiversity. The ‘Reasoned Action Approach’ (Fishbein& Ajzen, 2010) is used as a lens through which to assess the extent thatthe behavior of the board varies with its gender diversity.

ResearchFindings/Insights: The study uses archivaldata from a panel sample of 80,395 directorships observed between 1998 and 2012.Boardroom gender diversity is significantly related to director personalresponsibility (board attendance), CEO accountability, and risk taking. Ourfindings highlight the key importance of the exposure of male directors towomen directors on boards beyond the focal board. This suggests a positiveexternality, or a spillover effect.

Theoretical/AcademicImplications: The empirical findingsof this study highlight the importance of allowing for the operation of socialnorms when studying boardroom decision making. Experience gained by maledirectors of working with women directors on other boards, beyond the focalboard, is shown to enable women directors to contribute more effectively.

Practitioner/PolicyImplications: This study offersencouragement to policy makers intent on increasing the presence of women oncorporate boards. These results point to a spillover effect: there is anobserved impact of women on boards that acts not only directly on the board onwhich they sit but also through the network of boards on which their malecounterparts sit.

    Research areas

  • women on boards, spillover, gender diversity, reasoned action approach

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