by Kim Elsesser
Originally published: June 23, 2016
Greater profits, greater CEO pay and enhanced problem-solving are just a few of the claimed advantages of increasing the number of women on a company’s board of directors. Could it really be true that merely adding a few women to the board could bring such powerful change? Alice Eagly, professor of psychology and management at Northwestern, and one of the most renowned researchers on female leaders, delved into the academic research on the topic. She summarized what social scientists had learned about women’s impact on corporate boards. Let’s just say, it doesn’t look good.
Before diving into the research, it’s important to note that encouraging corporations to add more women to their boards is a noble goal. According to a report released last week by research firm, Catalyst, only 19.9% of board seats at S&P 500 companies are held by women. Women still have a long way to go to reach parity with men in the boardroom and should certainly be given every opportunity to pursue directorships. Nonetheless, we don’t want to fabricate reasons that companies should hire women. So, let’s take a closer look at each of the three claims about women on corporate boards to assess their validity.