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Golf can give women a boost into corporate boards

Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 15:18

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Disenchanted at being left out and eager to break through the gender glass ceiling in corporate boards? Golf, a male-dominated sport (nine in 10 golfers are male) may be one way to do it.

DISENCHANTED at being left out and eager to break through the gender glass ceiling in corporate boards? Golf, a male-dominated sport (nine in 10 golfers are male) may be one way to do it.

Predominantly male corporate boards may find it easier to embrace women who participate in male-dominated social activities such as golf, according to a study by NUS Business School and the Department of Real Estate at the NUS School of Design and Environment.

The report studied the role of social capital through golf games, and discovered that golfing facilitates women's directorships in publicly traded companies, in that women who play golf are 90 per cent more likely to serve on a board compared with those who do not.

Don't care for golf? Then one may have to contend with the stark reality of the status quo, as discovered by the research, that women are 89 per cent less likely to serve on corporate boards of listed firms than men.

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Here's another interesting nugget that could get women to own that backswing. "The advantage of playing golf was more pronounced for female golfers than male golfers. Compared to male golfers, female golfers exhibit a 54 per cent greater chance to serve on a corporate board," said the report.

This trend, according to the study, is more evident among firms with larger market capitalisation where female golfers are 125 per cent more likely to serve on a board compared with their male counterparts. In contrast, playing gold did not affect female board memberships in small firms.

The NUS study analysed a data set of over 10,580 golfers and more than 1,640 directors based on information from 2000 to 2014 generated from two main sources - directors of over 430 Singapore-based firms listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange and golfers' handicap books that matched directors with their golfing statistics.

"Social capital and networking foster career outcomes in the executive labour market. While these work for men and women, women's involvement in a male-dominated social activity such as golf appears to enhance their chances of being appointed to the board in a large listed company," said Sumit Agarwal, visiting professor at the Department of Finance at NUS Business School in a statement.

"There is evidence of a gender glass ceiling, but there are means to overcome gender disparity," he added.

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