Does the stock market discriminate against companies that have women on their board?


This paper presents a comprehensive archival examination of FTSE 100 companies in the period 2001–2005, focusing on the relationship between the presence of women on company boards and both accountancy-based and stock-based measures of company performance. Consistent with work by Adams, Gupta and Leeth this analysis reveals that there was no relationship between women’s presence on boards and ‘objective’ accountancy-based measures of performance (return on assets, return on equity). However, consistent with ‘glass cliff’ research there was a negative relationship between women’s presence on boards and ‘subjective’ stock-based measures of performance. Companies with male-only boards enjoyed a valuation premium of 37% relative to firms with a woman on their board. Results support claims that women are found on the boards of companies that are perceived to be performing poorly and that their presence on boards can lead to the devaluation of companies by investors. Yet the findings also indicate that perceptions and investment are not aligned with the underlying realities of company performance.

Source: “Investing with Prejudice: The Relationship between Women’s Presence on Company Boards and Objective and Subjective Measures of Company Performance” from British Journal of Management, Vol. 21, Issue 2, pp. 484-497, June 2010

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