Journal of Business Ethics 118 (1):61-72 (2013)

Abstract
The under-representation of women on boards is a heavily discussed topic—not only in Germany. Based on critical mass theory and with the help of a hand-collected panel dataset of 151 listed German firms for the years 2000–2005, we explore whether the link between gender diversity and firm performance follows a U-shape. Controlling for reversed causality, we find evidence for gender diversity to at first negatively affect firm performance and—only after a “critical mass” of about 30 % women has been reached—to be associated with higher firm performance than completely male boards. Given our sample firms, the critical mass of 30 % women translates into an absolute number of about three women on the board and hence supports recent studies on a corresponding “magic number” of women in the boardroom
Keywords Diversity  Gender  Supervisory board  Performance
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1553-6
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