In this paper we investigate the state of the art of women representation in Italian corporate boards, trying also to assess its determinants. We find that female presence still concerns the minority of companies and a small number of women. Moreover, female directorship is associated to some characteristics of firms and of women themselves, depending in particular on whether they
are related (through family links) to the controlling agent. Two very different models emerge. On the one hand, family-affiliated women are more present in smaller companies, with a concentrated ownership operating in the consumers sector. On the other hand, not-affiliated women are more common in widely held companies or in firms owned by a foreign shareholder, in the
IT/telecommunication sector, and in companies with younger and more independent boards. In both models the presence of institutional investors and board size positively affect female representation. Finally, we investigate possible relationships between gender diversity and some performance and governance outcomes. While we find no correlation between women representation and
performance, the relationship with some “good governance” proxies seems to be negative. Specifically, the average board attendance and the number of board meetings are lower in diverse-board companies, though the latter result is mainly driven by family-affiliated women.
Opinion expressed in this paper are exclusively the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Bank of Italy and Consob. The authors wish to thank Marcello Bianchi, Clara Graziano, Fabiano Schivardi, Giovanni Siciliano, the participants to the IFABS 2011 Conference (Rome, Università Roma Tre, 30 June-2 July 2011) and to the Workshop "Il genere entra
nell’economia" (Rome, Banca d’Italia, 26 September 2011) for their useful comments.