Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Beyond the Glass Ceiling: How Women Leaders Drive Innovation and Performance in Top Management

Silva, Buddhika and Hasan, Amena (2023): Beyond the Glass Ceiling: How Women Leaders Drive Innovation and Performance in Top Management. Forthcoming in: Journal of Gender Equality , Vol. 2, No. 35 (2024): pp. 1-19.

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Driven by societal pressures and a growing focus on diversity, corporations are increasingly seeking to diversify their leadership teams. Female representation on corporate boards is a topic of growing interest, with many European countries recently implementing formal gender diversity requirements. This study analyzes existing research on gender diversity in boardrooms, examining the characteristics of women directors, the challenges they encounter, and the barriers hindering their advancement. Despite the recognized benefits of gender diversity, male-dominated boards and ingrained gender biases often confine women to lower-level positions. As women climb the corporate ladder, they face the "glass ceiling" and "glass cliff" phenomena, further limiting their progress. However, research reveals no significant difference in long-term financial performance between companies led by men and women. In fact, increased female representation can positively impact innovation. This suggests that the glass ceiling and other barriers are not based on a lack of talent among women but rather on unconscious biases and discriminatory practices. This article advocates for balanced board representation based on qualifications, fostering true gender diversity and unlocking its potential benefits for organizations.

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