Sex Discrimination and Female Top Managers: Evidence from China

Journal of Business Ethics 138 (4):683-702 (2016)

We examine whether sex discrimination contributes to the underrepresentation of female executives in large corporations. China’s strong cultural preference for sons has made newborn boys greatly outnumber newborn girls. Using the male-to-female sex ratio at birth as the proxy for discrimination against women, we find that firms headquartered in more discriminatory areas hire fewer female executives. Even conditional on a woman reaching an executive position, she faces a higher likelihood of dismissal and receives lower compensation than her male counterparts. Overall, our findings suggest that sex discrimination plays an important role in preventing women from climbing the corporate ladder.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-015-2892-x
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