That makes two in a row. Following on this one

“In 2003, a new law required that 40 percent of Norwegian firms’ directors be women – at the time only
nine percent of directors were women. We use the pre-quota cross-sectional variation in female board
representation to instrument for exogenous changes to corporate boards following the quota. We find that the constraint imposed by the quota caused a significant drop in the stock price at the announcement of the law and a large decline in Tobin’s Q over the following years, consistent with the idea that firms choose boards to maximize value. The quota led to younger and less experienced boards, increases in leverage and acquisitions, and deterioration in operating performance, consistent with less capable boards.

comes this one from the Bundesbank, no less, which suggests that women bankers take more risks than men, contrary to received wisdom. Alphaville’s Lisa Pollack immediately applied her piranha-like brain to the report and tore some meaty chunks off it, but just because you don’t like the result doesn’t mean a report is rubbish (even when compiled by three men).

The advocates of more women on boards have a simple, not to say simplistic, approach. The argument, roughly, goes like this: since half the population is female, it makes no sense to exclude half the universe of talent when picking senior people. Since this half of the population also votes, no politician is going to suggest that appointments should be made on merit alone, or that a man who has worked continuously might be better suited to a post than a woman who has taken time out for the rather more important business of child rearing.

For all the sanctimonious guff from Mervyn Davies and his crusaders for gender diversity, the truth is we don’t know whether more women at the top would make businesses run better. That, surely is the acid test. As for the indication (more research needed, natch) that women bankers take more risks, banking is all about risks; the banker’s skill is in assessing and understanding the risks, not avoiding them. So we’re no further forward, really.

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