Does CEO Gender Matter at Financial Institutions? An Event-Study Analysis of Credit Union Data

71 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2019 Last revised: 18 Jun 2019

See all articles by Jordan van Rijn

Jordan van Rijn

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Agricultural and Applied Economics; Credit Union National Association (CUNA); Center for Financial Security

Date Written: April 23, 2019


Previous studies of risk management and overconfidence at firms and financial institutions suggest that female CEOs engage in more conservative risk management practices relative to male CEOs, and less aggressive lending and acquisition behavior. However, these studies are limited by a lack of variation in CEO gender, as only 5% of commercial bank CEOs and 6% of Fortune 500 company CEOs are female. Therefore, it is unclear whether female CEOs of these institutions can be considered representative of the greater female population, or whether apparent gender differences are due to self-selection of atypical females into managerial careers. Credit unions (nonprofit financial cooperatives) present a unique opportunity to examine the impact of gender differences on risk management and performance at financial institutions since 52% of the U.S.’s 5,800 credit union CEOs are female, suggesting that credit union CEOs are substantially more representative of the greater female population than CEOs of commercial banks. Do gender differences in risk preferences and overconfidence hold under such circumstances? We utilize a unique dataset with 23 years of credit union quarterly data and CEO gender to employ difference-in-differences and event study frameworks to focus on variation within credit unions that experience a CEO transition with a corresponding change in the gender of the CEO. The event study methodology allows us to thoroughly explore pre-CEO transition trends and parallel trends. While gender differences in indicators of risk management are in the expected direction, few are statistically significant, and none are economically meaningful. The results suggest that practical differences in observable risk management are negligible among credit union CEOs. However, we do find statistically significant and large gender differences in credit union growth: male-led credit unions grow 2.9% larger in terms of memberships and 5.9% larger in terms of loans. They also expand their fields of membership to have 8.2% more potential members and execute 2.8% more merger-acquisitions. Nonetheless, there are no significant gender differences in credit union earnings. We argue that the results are consistent with gender differences in overconfidence but not risk management. The findings highlight the importance of context when evaluating gender differences.

Keywords: Gender, risk management, financial institutions, overconfidence

JEL Classification: G21, J16, G32

Suggested Citation

van Rijn, Jordan, Does CEO Gender Matter at Financial Institutions? An Event-Study Analysis of Credit Union Data (April 23, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Jordan Van Rijn (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Agricultural and Applied Economics ( email )

427 Lorch St.
Madison, WI 53706
United States

HOME PAGE: http://

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) ( email )

5710 Mineral Point Rd
Madison, WI 53705
United States
6082153896 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://

Center for Financial Security ( email )

Madison, WI
United States

HOME PAGE: http://

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