Ann Owen, the Henry Platt Bristol Professor of Economics, presented a summary of her research on gender diversity on bank boards of directors at an American Bankers Association (ABA) Open Forum on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in October. Her research titled “The performance benefits of a more gender-diverse board of directors,” is available online and will be published in the ABA Banking Journal in January.
Owen published an earlier paper on the topic with former Hamilton economics professor Judit Temesvary. “The performance effects of gender diversity on bank boards” was published in the Journal of Banking and Finance (2018), and “Gender and professional networks on bank boards” was published in the Journal of Financial Services Research (2023). The latter paper was also co-authored by Temesvary, who now works for the Federal Reserve Board, and Andrew Wei ’20, a Cornell Ph.D. student.
In her presentation, Owen discussed key findings from these articles focusing on board gender diversity and bank profitability, the role of social and professional networks in recruiting bank board members, and the influence those board members’ networks have on bank performance.
Owen said these findings suggest that gender diversity improves bank performance when the conditions are favorable for full participation of female board members. Professional and social connections to existing board members increase the probability of appointment to a bank board. She also noted that women have smaller networks and that banks may need to develop alternate strategies to reach them.
Owen hopes that by sharing this research, it will help to educate banking professionals about the benefits of diversity and shed light on some obstacles to avoid as they seek to diversify their boards. This presentation was another expansion upon the pro-bono work Owen has done for Bank on Women, a nonprofit organization that advocates for female leadership in the banking industry.