International Business Review, Volume 29, October 2020,
This paper studies the role of gender equality in female directors’ efficacy and its subsequent effects on firms. Female directors in more gender equal societies should possess greater skills and exert more influence due to better access to educational/professional opportunities and more amicable boardroom dynamics. Therefore, we hypothesize that gender equality serves as an important moderator in the relation between female board representation and firm outcomes. Using a multi-national panel comprising 1986 public firms from 24 countries or areas spanning from 2007 to 2016, we obtain results that firms with higher female board representation exhibit higher overall performance, less earnings management, and less excessive risk taking, in which all three relations are stronger in countries with greater gender equality. Taken together, our paper implies that the impact of female directors on firm outcomes depends on a country's overall level of gender equality.