This article examines the relationship between the sex composition of boards of directors and corporate philanthropy in a sample of large British corporations. The article hypothesises that having women on boards of directors will be positively related to corporate philanthropy. Bivariate
analyses confirm the hypothesis for all women executives, non-executive directors and female chief executives but with the significant exception of other board executives. In multivariate analyses controlling for economic and sociological variables measuring cosmopolitanism, much of the positive
effect of female chief executives and non-executives disappears while the negative effect of other female executives is strengthened. The article concludes that there is qualified evidence in support of the hypothesis that a female presence is positively associated with corporate philanthropy,
although the sex effect is mediated by the position women occupy in board hierarchies. The article’s findings are consistent with the idea that elites’ discretionary behaviour varies with their social characteristics.
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