Analysis of a global survey of 21,980 firms from 91 countries suggests that the presence of women in corporate leadership positions may improve firm performance. This correlation could reflect either the payoff to nondiscrimination or the fact that women increase a firm’s skill diversity. Women’s presence in corporate leadership is positively correlated with firm characteristics such as size as well as national characteristics such as girls’ math scores, the absence of discriminatory attitudes toward female executives, and the availability of paternal leave. The results find no impact of board gender quotas on firm performance, but they suggest that the payoffs of policies that facilitate women rising through the corporate ranks more broadly could be significant.
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