Options for improving gender equity at top levels of management in corporate America.

Author:Meyers, Marty


A study conducted in 2008 compares men and women who recently graduated from top MBA programs. The men are paid approximately $4600 more than the women. The women report being in lower level management positions and experiencing less job satisfaction compared to the men (Ibarra, Carter, and Silva, 2010).

Women held 16.6% of board seats for Fortune 500 companies in 2012. The United States does not impose any laws specifying a quota for female corporate board members. Norway was the first country to impose a quota in 2003. A minimum of 40% of the board members in Norway must be women. There are harsh fines for firms that do not comply with the mandated quota. A 2011 French law required corporate boards to be at least 20% female by 2014 for board members to qualify for their fees. An Italian law mandates that women must make up one-third of the board members on listed and state-owned enterprises by 2015. Similar laws are in place in Belgium, Netherlands, and Iceland. The regulations in Finland say both sexes should be represented on corporate boards but does not specify specific percentages or timetables (Lublin, 2012). Research indicates that women need to be more qualified than men to be considered to serve on corporate boards and women pay a higher personal price to become board members. The higher divorce rate among female board members is one factor supporting the personal sacrifices. Female board members tend to be younger and were added to the board more recently (Groysberg and Bell, 2013)


Having just one woman on the board of directors on a board cuts the risk of bankruptcy by 20% (Bart and McQueen, 2013). One explanation would be that a company that would put women on the board might be more progressive business people, which would result in better decision making.

A survey of more than 600 board members showed that women are more likely to consider the rights of others and to take a cooperative approach to decision making. Female board members will also be more likely to use cooperation in decision making compared to their male counterparts (Bart and McQueen, 2013).

Another study showed that female representation on corporate boards improved governance, management control, and a greater sensitivity to other perspectives (Fondas and Sassalos, 2000).

Boards with a significant composition of women report a 53% higher return on equity, a 66% higher return on invested capital and a 42%...

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