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"Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling: Gender Spillovers in Corporate Leadership" is one of several papers on gender and leadership featured in this month’s issue of Kellogg INSIGHT.

"Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling: Gender Spillovers in Corporate Leadership" is one of several papers on gender and leadership featured in this month’s issue of Kellogg INSIGHT.

Breaking through the glass ceiling

Women lend women a helping hand to obtain top positions, Kellogg research finds


9/13/2012 - For women, it has been a long struggle to reach the executive suite. Research by Assistant Professor David Matsa shows that once women make it to the top, they pave the way for those who come later.

“Women who sit at the boardroom table are in a unique position to propel female colleagues to the highest levels of management,” Matsa says. “This then, in turn, paves the way for other women to gain access to higher positions in the company.”

Matsa and his co-author, Amalia R. Miller, found that a woman’s presence on the board of directors increased the likelihood that women would gain top executive positions, including CEO. Likewise, women’s salaries increased under these circumstances, suggesting that female board members may be responsible for some of the convergence in the gender pay gap for top executives.

“Once (women) have that power, when interested they can help others achieve high positions as well,” Matsa said.

Matsa’s research, “Chipping Away at the Glass Ceiling: Gender Spillovers in Corporate Leadership,” is one of several papers on gender and leadership featured in this month’s special issue of Kellogg INSIGHT. The issue highlights research by a host of Kellogg professors on a series of provocative questions, including:

Also featured in the issue is research by Nicole Stephens, who explores whether small tweaks in the language college administrators send to welcome incoming students has an impact on the later academic performance of first-generation college students.

“We can change the way we communicate with students and how students are asked to interact with others in the classroom so that interdependence can be incorporated,” Stephens concludes.

Read this month’s issue of Kellogg INSIGHT