Public Attention to Gender Equality and Board Gender Diversity

Public Attention to Gender Equality and Board Gender Diversity

Mariassunta Giannetti, Tracy Wang

Series number :

Serial Number: 
667/2020

Date posted :

March 24 2020

Last revised :

April 28 2021
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Keywords

  • boards • 
  • Gender • 
  • Public Attention • 
  • networks • 
  • Connections • 
  • homophily • 
  • corporate culture

We document an increase in female board representation following heightened public attention to gender equality. The improvement in board gender diversity is driven by firms whose ex ante culture is already sympathetic to gender equality, most likely because of increased awareness by the top management rather than institutional investors’ external pressure.

Female director appointments generate higher abnormal announcement returns in periods of high public attention, especially in firms with an ex ante culture less favorable to gender equality. Together with further evidence on directors’ characteristics, our findings suggest that during periods of high public attention, female board representation increases without diluting directors’ skills, by broadening the pool of female directors and by reducing the appointments of connected men.

Authors

Professor
Real name:
Tracy Wang
University of Minnesota