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  1. #1
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    Default Sex differences in corporate management

    I was reading some material on the performance of large companies that have women in senior management roles or on the board of directors. I figured I would post a couple links here on this message board on a FWIW basis, in case anyone is interested in reading about female corporate executives.

    (I wasn't sure which forum to post this in. Mods are welcome to move it if there's a better place for it.)

    The first link is a long report by a consulting firm; the second is a short press release concerning a study; the third is a short newspaper article.

    Research by McKinsey & Co found better-than-average financial performance in European companies, which have among the highest proportion of women in influential leadership roles. Globally, companies with a third or more women in the senior team outperform those with no women on nine criteria of "organizational excellence."
    http://www.womens-forum.com/ifiles/W...cKinsey_EN.pdf
    Research by Catalyst, a non-profit research and advisory firm that focuses on inclusive environments for women, reported in 2007 that Fortune 500 companies with the highest quartile of women board directors are significantly more profitable than those in the lowest quartile in terms of return on equity, return on sales, and return on invested capital.
    Press Room: Press Releases 2007
    A number of other studies have emphasized the "shift" in board dynamics when there is a critical mass of three or more women board directors.
    FT.com / Home UK / UK - Top women tip the scales

  2. #2
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    I'd vote for "other psychology topics" cause I'd love to see this thread (d)evolve into sex differences.

    (I use to use #women in management positions as a stock screener, and yes, it has an impact.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    I'd vote for "other psychology topics" cause I'd love to see this thread (d)evolve into sex differences.

    (I use to use #women in management positions as a stock screener, and yes, it has an impact.)
    Suits me. You have more ambitious plans for this item than me.

    I guess we'll need a mod...

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    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Random thought... would it be because of the stereotype that women are inferior in management position that caused the difference in the results? As in unless those women are exceptionally good, they wouldn't be in the position they're in... so you have a bias sample?

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Suits me. You have more ambitious plans for this item than me.
    I'm not sure I really want to be the one to post. I'd likely be run off into a swamp and forced to live out my life with the trolls!

    Really though, there are three reasons I can think of, and without details they aren't too controversial...

    1) Women have a higher barrier of entry, therefore those that do rise are invariably better than their male competitors

    2) Women have advantages due to their sex (indivdually more capable/etc)

    3) Women have added value as a result of different approaches (collective dynamics are net-better).

    I see evidence for all three, which leads me to believe there is an interactive effect between them.

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Hmm, I realised a fourth.

    4) The contribution of women isn't the causation, but rather the climate of the company (equality, for instance) that allows women to rise that is causing the net gain. Women rising to power is just a side effect of equality.

    (This can also lead to a subset of #3 - by expanding the pool of applicants and treating them equally, the better ones rise. Instead of a relatively sub-average male, you get an above average or average female... your competitor does not because he places too high of a barrier of entry on females.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightning View Post
    Random thought... would it be because of the stereotype that women are inferior in management position that caused the difference in the results? As in unless those women are exceptionally good, they wouldn't be in the position they're in... so you have a bias sample?
    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    1) Women have a higher barrier of entry, therefore those that do rise are invariably better than their male competitors
    That's probably a factor. It's probably based on the idea that a lot of deadwood exists among male leaders whereas "glass ceilings" eliminate the deadwood among female leaders.

    An offsetting factor would be the idea that there is only a very small pool of available female leaders, and companies committed to gender equality have to seek those aggressively, be extra flexible in recruitment terms, possibly mentor them a bit, etc. The first link indicates that companies are doing this. This scenario would remove the "glass ceiling" at companies committed to gender equality and possibly lead to some deadwood among female leaders. In any case, under this scenario more credit might be due to the aggressiveness and flexibility of the company in seeking out woman leaders than to the quality of the woman leaders themselves.

    Anyway, it's an argument for including "aggressiveness and flexibility of the recruiting company" as a factor. Apparently the success of woman depends on that in part. Along the same lines, from the 3rd link:

    Does it matter whether superior financial performance is directly caused by having more women at the top or by having an open, innovative corporate culture? Probably not, she says, since one is indicative of the other."

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    2) Women have advantages due to their sex (indivdually more capable/etc)

    3) Women have added value as a result of different approaches (collective dynamics are net-better).
    These two are complementary, and a lot of different sub-factors might fall under the rubric of one or the other.

    Interestingly, the newspaper article (3rd link) tries to parse the two a bit. Corporate heads with female representation are asked about their experience with women on the board, and all agree that female representation changes the dynamic of the board. But they don't all agree as to why. Some suggest that female leaders are good because they're female (supportive and collectively oriented), and others say that female leaders are good because they're good leaders:

    "He disputes the suggestion that the presence of women creates a more supportive environment, but says everyone feels free to challenge each other in an egalitarian way. As more women have been appointed, the team's dialogue and dynamic has improved, he says. "I think it has more to do with the quality of the women than the fact they are women."

    IOW, I agree that these factors are all entangled and interactive, so much so that the participants themselves have trouble weighting and prioritizing them. Apparently one can only say for a certainty that having women on the board of directors does, in fact, make a positive difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Hmm, I realised a fourth.

    4) The contribution of women isn't the causation, but rather the climate of the company (equality, for instance) that allows women to rise that is causing the net gain. Women rising to power is just a side effect of equality.

    (This can also lead to a subset of #3 - by expanding the pool of applicants and treating them equally, the better ones rise. Instead of a relatively sub-average male, you get an above average or average female... your competitor does not because he places too high of a barrier of entry on females.)
    I missed this before posting my own response. You can see how I dealt with this factor in my post.

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    IOW, I agree that these factors are all entangled and interactive, so much so that the participants themselves have trouble weighting and prioritizing them. Apparently one can only say for a certainty that having women on the board of directors does, in fact, make a positive difference.
    What if I was to say, however, that an all-male board tends to outperform an all-female board (board, or upper management, as you prefer)?

    (Not stating this as fact, but how distangled would that make things?)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    What if I was to say, however, that an all-male board tends to outperform an all-female board (board, or upper management, as you prefer)?

    (Not stating this as fact, but how distangled would that make things?)
    Hmmm... Seems hard to make a direct comparison. First you have to make sure you're not comparing apples to oranges. What industry is the "female company" operating in? What's its history? Is there a "male company" parallel? And the overall corporate environment tends to be male--can we control for that, or is that something we're trying to measure: The ability of females to operate by themselves in a competitive "male" business environment?

    And I suspect that by setting up your controls, you end up predetermining which factor(s) you're measuring.

    Does that sound reasonable? You're the statistics guy...

    [Edit:] ^^^^ ....the point being that it doesn't seem fair to isolate and compare female leadership qualities if the women in question are having to compete in a competitive male business environment (the maketplace) but haven't had the benefit of learning their leadership skills in the male corporate world like the leaders of every other company in the business world (all-male and/or mixed)...

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