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Can Golf Increase Gender Diversity on Boards?

A new paper explores whether women’s engagement in male dominated activities can improve gender diversity in the “executive labor market.”  The paper examines whether women who play golf are more likely to serve on boards of public companies.  The authors compiled information about directors from 431 companies listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.  They then created a database with information on the golf games of 10,584 golfers, including 1,646 directors.  Based on this information, the authors find that women who play golf are 74% more likely to serve on a board.  The paper finds that the effect of women playing golf is even more pronounced in large firms and in industries with few women.  Based on the study, the authors conclude that:

  • Social capital and networking can have an impact on career outcomes in the executive labor market (both for men and women).
  • Women can “partially mitigate the glass ceiling on corporate boards” by engaging in activities that run counter to typical social norms.
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