Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 109, Issue 2, pp 145–162 | Cite as

Gender Diversity on European Banks’ Boards of Directors

  • Ruth Mateos de Cabo
  • Ricardo GimenoEmail author
  • María J. Nieto


This article investigates the gender diversity of the corporate board of European Union banks. Employing a large sample of 612 European banks from 20 European countries, it identifies organizational characteristics that could be predictive of women’s presence on bank boards. We identify three factors that play a particularly important role in defining bank board gender diversity. First, the proportion of women on the board is higher for lower-risk banks. We argue that there may be some statistical discrimination behind this relation, although it could also be explained by a real risk-aversion hypothesis. Second, banks with larger boards have a higher proportion of women on their boards, which could be considered a signal of some kind of preference for homogeneity on small boards. Finally, banks that have a growth orientation are more prone to include women on their board, since they may be seen as providers of diverse external resources that are more valued by firms operating under critical circumstances.


Banks Board of directors Corporate governance Discrimination Gender diversity 



Chief executive officer


European Union member countries excluding Romania and Bulgaria that entered in 2007


European Professional Women’s Network


Financial Times Stock Exchange Index


Likelihood ratio


Mergers and acquisitions


Return on Average Assets




US dollars



Authors are very thankful to the editor and the anonymous referees, as well as to Ignacio Hernando, Jens Haggendorff, Juan Nave, and Diego Ruiz-Hernández for their comments and support. Authors also thank the assistants to the seminars of CNMV, CUNEF, ICADE, and Copenhagen Business School as well as the conferences on Feminist Economics, European Consortium for Political Research and Encuentro de Economía Aplicada for their comments and suggestions. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (project ECO-2009/13616).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Mateos de Cabo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ricardo Gimeno
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • María J. Nieto
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Universidad CEU San PabloMadridSpain
  2. 2.CUNEF (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)MadridSpain
  3. 3.Banco de EspañaMadridSpain
  4. 4.Universidad Pontificia Comillas (ICADE)MadridSpain

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