Does the gender of top executives matter?Gender & Finance Literature Review Series #1: Lee and James (2007)
In this G&F LRS #1, we analyze the following research paper:
Lee PM, James EH. 2007. She-E-Os: Gender effects and investor reactions to the announcements of top executive appointments. Strategic Management Journal 28(3): 227-241.
This research paper shows that when representatives from a social category start taking on new roles, due to the lack of reference, these members start being perceived differently. Women in corporates are examples of this phenomenon as they only comprise 4% of top officers and thus gain a special status. These biases and stereotypes for women have a direct implication on the firm. The authors study stock market price fluctuations for firms in 1990-2000, also following the corresponding major executive announcements, CEO appointments, newspaper articles and press releases.
Hypotheses and Simulations
The authors formulated six hypotheses and ran various simulations to support them. Stock market reaction is found to be more negative on the announcement of a female CEO than on the announcement of a male CEO for companies.
Having followed various sources of public information, Lee and James (2007) also concludes that there exists a bias in the media with greater number of articles written about female CEOs than for male CEOs over their initial years in office. Moreover, simulation on the language used in these articles also indicates that media tends to emphasize on gender, gender-related topics and organizational considerations for female CEOs while being gender neutral and more organization oriented for male CEOs. A simple example would be how the word “family” shows in articles for women more often than for men. While stock market fluctuations are not as dramatic when women are promoted to higher managerial roles, it tends to be more negative when there is an announcement about the appointment of a female to the CEO position. Further analysis also brings forth that the stock market cares about the women CEO being an insider in the firm and prefers it to a women CEO being a fresh outsider.
Conclusions and Implications
As a result, the authors conclude that corporates should be more aware of the potential risks with female executive appointment and formulate a strategy to communicate this news better. More importantly, stereotypes must change and will, once more women are appointed and it isn’t a rare phenomenon anymore. It is also vital that media is more careful and unbiased in their language as they are responsible in shaping opinions and stock market reactions to a great extent. It is also interesting to explore that diversity can be broadened beyond gender and include racial and ethnic in the corporate world and may have similar stock market implications.
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