The “trickle-down effect” of the female representation in the C-suite: are gender roles interfering?

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It has been suggested that a better female representation in the C-suite will increase women’s representation at the subordinate levels of management. However, while some studies provide empirical evidence for this “trickle-down effect”, others find an opposite relationship -a better representation of women in the C-suite decreases women’s representation at subordinate levels of management. This paper attempts to explain this contradiction by investigating the moderating role of gender roles. The existing literature suggests that in cultures where the gender roles assigned to men are clearly distinct from the gender roles assigned to women, the “trickle-down effect” is weakened. The hypothesis is tested by conducting two-level random effects regressions. The research provides evidence for the “trickle-down effect” of women in the C-suite and it shows that the presence of more distinct gender roles reduces the share of women senior managers. However, the differences in overlap of gender roles is not found to diminish the positive influence of the women in the C-suite on the female representation in the senior management. The results of this paper provide indications on designing more efficient policies for increasing women’s representation in management.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen