Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 138, Issue 4, pp 683–702 | Cite as

Sex Discrimination and Female Top Managers: Evidence from China



We examine whether sex discrimination contributes to the underrepresentation of female executives in large corporations. China’s strong cultural preference for sons has made newborn boys greatly outnumber newborn girls. Using the male-to-female sex ratio at birth as the proxy for discrimination against women, we find that firms headquartered in more discriminatory areas hire fewer female executives. Even conditional on a woman reaching an executive position, she faces a higher likelihood of dismissal and receives lower compensation than her male counterparts. Overall, our findings suggest that sex discrimination plays an important role in preventing women from climbing the corporate ladder.


Sex discrimination Female executives Gender Sex ratio Executive compensation Turnover China 

JEL Classification

G30 J71 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanyang Business SchoolNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Nanyang Business SchoolNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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