Gender Letter: Yes, Britain, You Can Have More Women on Corporate Boards


As for credentials: I’m just guessing here, but I’d imagine board members might need something like an advanced degree, some analytical thinking skills and the ability to collaborate. Did you know that women now receive more bachelor’s and master’s degrees globally than their male counterparts? In the United States, they also receive more doctoral degrees.

We also do brilliantly in team-based organizational structures like, say, a corporate board. According to a 2013 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, women are in fact more attracted to cooperative environments than men.

For good measure, women also have high emotional intelligence. In a quantitative review involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures, researchers found that women are more sensitive, considerate and humble than men — “arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences,” as the Harvard Business Review put it. (In other words: duh.)

“Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.”

Just wondering: Have you ever asked an actual living woman about this? I’d posit that the real hassle is all the men questioning whether you belong there in the first place.

There are lots of studies that show women handle pressure just fine, by the way. Here’s one, from the University at Buffalo, that found that estrogen helps females do better under stress than men, at least in rats (O.K., maybe a stretch); this one about tennis players, from Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen, found “that men consistently choke under competitive pressure, but with regard to women the results are mixed.”

Shareholders just aren’t interested in the makeup of the board, so why should we be?”

Shareholders care about money, right? More women, it turns out, yields better returns.


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