Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Does Gender Matter?

76 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2009 Last revised: 31 Oct 2018

See all articles by Renee B. Adams

Renee B. Adams

University of Oxford

Patricia Funk

University of Lugano

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 1, 2009


The representation of women in top corporate officer positions is steadily increasing. However, little is known about the impact this will have. A large literature documents that women are different from men in their choices and in their preferences, but most of this literature relies on samples of college students or workers at lower levels in the corporate hierarchy. If women must be like men to break the glass ceiling, we might expect gender differences to disappear among top executives. In contrast, using a large survey of directors, we show that female and male directors differ systematically in their core values and risk attitudes. While certain population gender differences disappear at the director level, others do not. Consistent with the findings for the general population, female directors are more benevolent and universally concerned, but less power-oriented than men. However, they are less traditional and security-oriented than their male counterparts. Furthermore, female directors are slightly more risk-loving than male directors. This suggests that having a women on the board need not lead to more risk-averse decision-making.

Keywords: Female Directors, Directors, Gender, Boards, Values, Risk

JEL Classification: J16, G30

Suggested Citation

Adams, Renée B. and Funk, Patricia, Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Does Gender Matter? (December 1, 2009). UPF Working Paper Series, European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) - Finance Working Paper No. 273/2010, Available at SSRN: or

Renée B. Adams

University of Oxford ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Patricia Funk (Contact Author)

University of Lugano ( email )

Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
Lugano, TN Ticino 6900

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