Disentangling Discrimination on Spanish Boards of Directors

33 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2008 Last revised: 26 Feb 2009

See all articles by Ruth Mateos de Cabo

Ruth Mateos de Cabo

Universidad San Pablo CEU

Ricardo Gimeno

Banco de España

Lorenzo Escot

Escuela Universitaria Estadística - Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Date Written: 2007


The detection of discrimination on boards of directors is an interesting issue in the study of labour market inequalities, since the presence of a discriminated group would be especially scarce and tracking the possible causes of discrimination would be easier in the last steps of a professional career. Identifying the types of discrimination is a key issue, because they are usually mixed and distorted by the presence of other elements. In order to disentangle the different causes, an extreme case such as Spain, where the percentage of women on boards ranges from 6.6% to 8.6%, becomes especially relevant.

In this study, discrete variable models are used to estimate the proportion of women on the boards of directors of the largest Spanish companies in 2005 and 2008. Some signals of discrimination have been identified. We have found evidence of the dynamics of Becker's model of taste-based discrimination, as time and competition can act in favour of women's presence on Spanish boards. There are clubby companies in which the homogeneity of the board prevails. This could also indicate traces of taste-based discrimination. When there is additional information about women's individual characteristics (i.e. family-based firms, cooperatives), statistical discrimination is reduced. Finally, we have detected the presence of companies that can systematically underestimate the abilities of women to fill these positions, a situation that tends to disappear when the companies already have female directors. We interpret this contagious factor as a signal of mistake-based discrimination.

Keywords: gender discrimination, corporate governance, Board of Directors, glass ceiling

JEL Classification: G34, J16, M14, C35

Suggested Citation

Mateos de Cabo, Ruth and Gimeno, Ricardo and Escot Mangas, Lorenzo, Disentangling Discrimination on Spanish Boards of Directors (2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1099902 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1099902

Ruth Mateos de Cabo (Contact Author)

Universidad San Pablo CEU ( email )

Julián Romea, 23
28003 Madrid, 28003

Ricardo Gimeno

Banco de España ( email )

Madrid 28014

Lorenzo Escot Mangas

Escuela Universitaria Estadística - Universidad Complutense de Madrid ( email )

Av Puerta de Hierro s/n
Madrid, Madrid 28040

HOME PAGE: http://www.ucm.es/centros/webs/aedipi

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