If women must be like men to crack through the glass ceiling, we should be able to expect the gender differences between board members to disappear. But is that the case?
THERE IS AN EXTENSIVE LITERATURE which documents that women differ from men when it comes to choices and preferences, but there is very little knowledge about gender differences in the board room. If women must be like men to crack through the glass ceiling, we should be able to expect the gender differences between board members to disappear. But is that the case?
WOMEN and men who are on the boards of Swedish listed companies differ systematically in their basic values and their attitude to risk. They also differ in ways that deviate from gender differences in the population at large. This is shown in results from an extensive survey based on questionnaires.
FEMALE board members do, according to data for the entire population, show more benevolence and universalism than male board members. At the same time, they are less hungry for power. However, female board members turn out to be less oriented towards tradition and security than their male colleagues, which deviates from the results for the entire population.
FEMALE board members do also turn out to be more prone to take risks than male board members. Having a woman on the board does thus not necessarily lead to more risk averse decision-making.
AUTHOR Renée Adams is Professor of Finance at Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales, Sydney. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patricia Funk is Assistant Professor of Economics at University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. E-mail: email@example.com.