Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling

Gender Spillovers in Corporate Leadership

by David A. Matsa, Amalia Miller

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Abstract

This paper examines the role of women helping women in corporate America. Using a merged panel of directors and executives for large U.S. corporations between 1997 and 2009, the authors find a positive association between the female share of the board of directors in the previous year and the female share among current top executives. The relationship's timing suggests that causality runs from boards to managers and not the reverse. This pattern of women helping women at the highest levels of firm leadership highlights the continued importance of a demand-side "glass ceiling" in explaining the slow progress of women in business.

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