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Women make better corporate leaders than men, study finds

March 27, 2013|By Stuart Pfeifer
  • Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer is one of the most high-profile female business leaders in the United States.
Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer is one of the most high-profile… (Laurent Gillieron / Associated…)

Women make better corporate leaders than men because they are more likely to make fair decisions when competing interests are at stake, a new study has found.

The study, published this week in the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, was based on a survey of 600 board directors.

Women leaders are more likely than men to consider competing interests and take a cooperative approach when making decisions, according to the study, conducted by researchers at A.T. Still University in Arizona and McMaster University in Canada.

“We’ve known for some time that companies that have more women on their boards have better results,” said Chris Bart, a professor of strategic management at McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business. “Our findings show that having women on the board is no longer just the right thing, but also the smart thing to do. Companies with few female directors may actually be shortchanging their investors.”

Male directors, who made up 75% of the survey sample, prefer making decisions using rules, regulations and tradition, the survey found. Female directors, by contrast, are less constrained by rules and more prepared to “rock the boat,” the researchers found. They are also more likely “to use cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building.”

Women leaders are more inquisitive than men and tend to see more than one solution to a problem. This leads to decisions that are more likely to be in the best interests of a company, said Gregory McQueen, associate dean at A.T. Still.

Globally, women make up about 9% of corporate board members, the study said.

The study cited research that has found that companies with at least one female director were 20% less likely to file bankruptcy. And those with higher representations of females on their boards had better financial performance.

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