The Old Boy Network: Gender Differences in the Impact of Social Networks on Remuneration in Top Executive Jobs
54 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2011
Date Written: October 2011
Using an original dataset describing the career history of some 16,000 senior executives and members of the non-executive board of US, UK, French and German companies, we investigate gender differences in the use of social networks and their impact on earnings. There is a large gender wage gap: women (who make up 8.8% of our sample) earned average salaries of $168,000 in 2008, only 70% of the average $241,000 earned by men. This is not due to differences in age, experience or education levels. Women are more likely than men to be non-executives, whose salaries are lower; nevertheless, a substantial gender gap still exists among executives. We construct measures of the number of currently influential people each individual has encountered previously in his or her career. We find that executive men's salaries are an increasing function of the number of such individuals they have encountered in the past while women's are not. Controlling for this discrepancy, there is no longer a significant gender gap among executives. These findings are robust to the use of different years, to the use of salaried versus non-salaried remuneration, and to the use of panel estimation to control rigorously for unobserved individual heterogeneity. In contrast to executives, the salaries of non-executive board members do not display a significant gender wage gap, nor any gender difference in the effectiveness with which men and women leverage their links into salaries. This suggests that adoption of gender quotas for board membership, as has been enacted or proposed recently in several European countries, is unlikely to reduce the gender gap in earnings so long as such quotas do not distinguish between executive and non-executive board members.
Keywords: executive compensation, gender wage gap, social networks
JEL Classification: A14, J16, J31, J33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation