Do Female Executives Make a Difference? The Impact of Female Leadership on Gender Gaps and Firm Performance


by Luca Flabbi, Mario Macis, Andrea Moro, and Fabiano Schivardi.
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We investigate the effects of female executives on gender-specific wage distributions and firm performance. We find that female leadership has a positive impact at the top of the female wage distribution and a negative impact at the bottom. Moreover, the impact of female leadership on firm performance increases with the share of female workers. Our empirical strategy accounts for the endogeneity induced by the non-random assignment of executives to firms by including in the regressions firm fixed effects, by generating controls from a two-way fixed effects regression, and by building instruments based on regional trends. The empirical findings are consistent with a model of statistical discrimination where female executives are better equipped at interpreting signals of productivity from female workers. The evidence suggests substantial costs of under-representation of women at the top of the corporate hierarchy.

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