Research seems to support the idea that having daughters makes a difference in the way executives, business leaders and government officials do their jobs – as they are likely to make decisions that favor more equitable treatment of women.
A study published in the December issue of Journal of Financial Economics showed that CEOs with daughters scored higher in corporate social responsibility
, Cheryl Winokur Munk reported for the Wall Street Journal.
The mere fact of having a daughter opens executives’ eyes to gender-related issues they might not otherwise be aware of, said Henrik Cronqvist, co-author and chairman of the department of finance at the University of Miami School of Business Administration.
The study used data from 416 CEOs from S&P 500 companies.
Cronqvist and co-author Frank Yu, of the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, found that a company’s corporate social responsibility
rating – a third-party measure of a firm’s community, diversity, employee relations and other metrics – is 9.1% higher than that of a median firm if the CEO has a daughter.
“The research was designed to show causality and go beyond just saying there is a correlation,” Dr. Cronqvist said.
The study showed that when a new CEO who has a daughter comes on board, the company becomes more socially responsible. The opposite happens when a CEO without a daughter joins the company.
Of course having a daughter is not the only factor shaping how CEOs act, he said. “But it’s an important factor.”
Sociology professor Barbara Risman agreed: “Fathers of daughters want their daughters to have equal opportunities in the world,” she told WSJ. “They see the inequities that women face, and that makes them more open to thinking about inequity in general.”
Other studies that support this are:
- A 2008 American Economic Review paper which found that US congressmen vote more liberally, especially on issues affecting women, when they have more daughters.
- A 2015 American Journal of Political Science paper which found that federal judges, primarily Republican, with daughters, consistently vote ‘in a more feminist fashion’ on gender issues compared to judges with only sons,
- A working paper by two Harvard University professors shows that parenting more daughters cause decisionmakers in venture capital firms to hire more female partners.
The daughter effect shows how important personal relationships can shape policy preferences, ideology and decisions, according to Maya Sen, public policy professor at Harvard and co-author of the study on judges.
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