Despite the achievements gained towards increased gender diversity in corporations, the issue is far from being settled. Today, the pursuit for increased gender diversity extends to tackle who should sit on the board of directors. In fact, this debate is not country specific. There has been an increasing debate about policy mandating women participation on boards (WOB) worldwide. And the recent period has witnessed growing research examining the impact of female board membership on firm value, but the evidence remains inconclusive. In a market whereby women's presence in top positions remains lesser socially acceptable, the importance of investigating the impact of such policy mandates is even greater. Egypt is unique context to investigate, because despite its institutional barriers to women roles, it is on the verge of change post the aftermath of the "Arab Spring". Using a unique dataset, we investigate the impact of women board diversity on firm performance on a sample of 114 Egyptian firms, which represent active Egyptian non-financial publicly listed firms with data available for the year 2013. After accounting for firm size, board size, industry, and CEO duality, our findings reveal a positive significant association between percentage of women on board (WOB) members and firm value (ROE). For robustness, we also use Tobin Q as an alternative measure. We find this direct effect to be positively moderated by industry (service sector). The results highlights the positive impact of female board membership on firm value as measured by ROE and Tobin Q, despite social barriers to female leaders, indicating a positive direction to the perceived legitimacy of increased WOB at a unique time in Egypt's history. The paper provides implications for management policies to prepare more females for senior roles and address the false preconceptions about expected market reactions to the appointment of females on boards.


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