Tinsley publishes “Gender Diversity on U.S. Corporate Boards: Are We Running in Place?” in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review

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Tinsley’s timely research on “Gender Diversity on U.S. Corporate Boards: Are We Running in Place?“, forthcoming in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, has attracted the attention of the media in various outlets:

This is why it’s taking so excruciatingly long to get more women on boards (new window)Quartz (February 26, 2016)

Making boards more diverse—in terms of gender and other factors—is now such a common goal that you’d think companies must have worked out how to do it by now. But researchers from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University have identified one big problem that stymies efforts to boost the ranks of female directors. It’s quite simple: women are more likely to be appointed to seats vacated by other women. When men step down, they are more likely to be replaced by men. This “gender matching heuristic,” the researchers conclude, means that “current efforts towards gender parity may falter, even when people have positive attitudes towards diversity.” The Georgetown researchers tracked the trend at more than 3,000 listed firms between 2002 and 2011, citing it as one reason progress towards boardroom parity has been made at a creep, rather than a jog…

How women’s dislike of competition affects gender pay gap (new window)Chicago Tribune (March 3, 2016)

Another study released last week by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business spotlighted the meager advancement of women in corporate boardrooms and said an unconscious tendency to gender-match — only appoint a woman to a corporate board when another woman departs — may be thwarting efforts to diversify the boardroom, which can have trickle-down effects on company policies.

Why Women Still Hold a Measly Number of Board Seats (new window)New America (March 10, 2016)

For the last decade, pressure has mounted for company board of directors to appoint more women—but not enough to actually get more women on boards. In 2005, women comprised 15 percent of board members of large U.S. companies; today the number remains below 20 percent. Last month, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney introduced new legislation to require firms to disclose their boards’ gender composition and strategies to improve women’s representation, to nudge decision makers to think about whom they’re appointing, particularly since 47 percent of the labor force and 51 percent of management and professional jobs are held by females. Perhaps they should instead think about how they’re thinking. Because their current method is precisely why, despite whatever the headlines say, the number of women serving on boards is likely to remain measly for a long time.

In a paper forthcoming in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Catherine H. Tinsley, professor of management at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, and colleagues report on their study of 3,000 U.S. publicly traded firms from 2002-2011. They find that a woman is most likely to be appointed to a corporate board when another woman exits the board. Women, in other words, remain stuck in token numbers on boards of directors because decision makers use a cognitive process known as “gender matching.” The researchers argue that this is an underestimated, unconscious bias (they prefer the word heuristic), and that it guides decision-makers’ thinking. The departing person’s gender is the salient cue for selection of her (or his) replacement.