Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Jeffrey Zax

Second Advisor

Terra McKinnish

Third Advisor

Doug Bennett


This paper examines the question “What is the effect of corporate female leadership on firm performance?”. Females are increasingly important in business, however, women in upper level management are a rarity, as approximately 5% of S&P 500 CEO’s are female. Recent studies have found that companies with higher proportions of women in top level management perform better than companies with a very small proportion. This paper uses data from the S&P 400 and 500 Indexes to analyze the relationship between firm performance and gender among the c-suite. Controlling for both industry and firm size, this paper will examine the effect of three gender variables, CEO gender, CFO gender and proportion of women, on firm performance through the use of total enterprise value, the natural log of total enterprise value, net income and return on assets. Through cross sectional regressions, a relationship between CFO gender and firm value is established. As well, it is found that gender has an effect on firm value but the exact relationship remains unclear.