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A research study analyzes gender bias in accessing firm directorships

Study headed by UC3M


A study by the universities Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Valencia, and Bristol (United Kingdom), which analyzes the causes for the scant number of women on boards of directors, points out that companies that discriminate against women in accessing these executive bodies are precisely those that disclose worse financial information.

Prejuicios de género en el acceso a puestos directivos

The research, recently published in the Journal of Corporate Finance, is based on data from large United Kingdom firms. “We identify companies that discriminate against women by using statistical models that predict how many women should be on the board of directors according to a company’s features,” explained one of the study’s authors, Juan Manuel García Lara, full professor in the UC3M Department of Business Administration. “We use a British sample because there are so few women on Spanish boards of directors that we couldn’t do useful statistical work,” he added.

One of the conclusions reached by these researchers is that there are no gender differences in monitoring abilities among corporate directors, but rather it is the companies hiring them in a different way. “There is discrimination accessing boards of directors, that is, there are companies that systematically prefer to hire men instead of women,” asserted another of the study’s authors, Beatriz García Osma, full professor in the UC3M Department of Business Administration.

Another conclusion of the research is that “companies that discriminate against women are also those that have poorer accounting information”, indicated another of the study’s authors, Araceli Mora, from the Universidad de Valencia. “The work we have carried out is based on a sample of United Kingdom firms, but these conclusions can be extrapolated to the Spanish case, given that the profile of directors in large firms is similar across countries”, noted another of the researchers, Mariano Scapin, from the University of Bristol.

These results could be used to propose new measures against discrimination at the workplace.  The researchers propose that society itself as well as firms should critically reflect upon why there are so few women on boards of directors, as men and women holding these positions do not differ in their capacity and in the performance of  their workplace roles.

Bibliographic references: Juan Manuel García Lara, Beatriz García Osma, Araceli Mora, Mariano Scapin. The monitoring role of female directors over accounting quality. Journal of Corporate Finance, 2017, vol. 45, issue C, 651-668.

Directivas - Traducción al chino (Chinese translation)