Gender Quotas and Support for Women in Board Elections

49 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2021 Last revised: 10 Apr 2021

See all articles by Marina Gertsberg

Marina Gertsberg

Monash University

Johanna Mollerstrom

George Mason University

Michaela Pagel

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2021


We study shareholder support for corporate board nominees in the context of the California gender quota, which was passed in 2018. Using hand-collected data for approximately 600 firms, we show that, prior to the quota, female nominees received greater shareholder support than their male counterparts. This is consistent with a pre-quota environment in which female board nominees were held to a higher standard than male nominees. Second, we show that incumbent female directors in the post-quota environment receive greater support than incumbent men, while support for new (mandated) female nominees decreases to the level of support for new male nominees. This indicates that the quota led to a conversion in the bar for men and women to become board nominees, and that it did not lead to new female board nominees being of lower quality than male nominees. We likewise challenge the notion that the negative stock price reaction to the quota reflects value destruction due to an insufficient supply of female directors. Instead, we provide evidence that dysfunctional board dynamics are driving the reaction, in the sense that stock prices reacted negatively to entrenched boards who failed to turn over the least supported directors when adjusting their boards to comply with the new law.

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Suggested Citation

Gertsberg, Marina and Mollerstrom, Johanna and Pagel, Michaela, Gender Quotas and Support for Women in Board Elections (February 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28463, Available at SSRN:

Marina Gertsberg (Contact Author)

Monash University ( email )


Johanna Mollerstrom

George Mason University ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Michaela Pagel

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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