DP14503 Public Attention to Gender Equality and the Demand for Female Directors

Author(s): Mariassunta Giannetti, Tracy Yue Wang
Publication Date: March 2020
Date Revised: March 2020
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Programme Areas: Financial Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14503

We explore whether demand factors contribute to low female board participation. We use time-varying public attention to gender equality as a shock that differentially affects the demand for female directors of firms with different ex ante culture towards gender equality. We find that public attention is associated with an increase in female board representation, especially in firms whose ex ante culture is more sympathetic to gender equality. Furthermore, public attention to gender equality changes the way female directors are recruited. First, the pool of female directors broadens without any obvious compromises on quality. Second, public attention to gender equality reduces the probability that connected men are appointed, leading to higher female board representation.