Beware, Women on Board

Having a diverse board is all the rage at companies these days. But the FT reports on a recent study in the Journal of Financial Economics that suggests this might not be the best idea. The research, which was based on a 87,000 directorships at 2,000 U.S. companies from 1996 to 2003, showed that on average, companies with proportionally more women on their boards were less profitable and had a lower market value. The study also showed that boards with females were more effectively supervised and monitored. (The fact that females attend board meetings more often than males often persuades males to show up.) So for a badly-governed business, women can help. But for companies that run smoothly, the female tendency to "meddle" might be more harm than help. One of the study's authors, Daniel Ferreira of the London School of Economics, explains.

"Our research shows that women directors are doing their jobs very well. But a tough board, with more monitoring, may not always be a good thing.” Ferreira emphasized that the point of the study was not to protest diversity in the boardroom. “A board is not, after all, exclusively directed towards profit,” he said. “However, we can see that when you meddle with boards there may be unintended consequences. This is particularly important to bear in mind when companies are under increasing pressure to change the composition of their boards.”

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

5 of the worst inventions in modern history

Be glad your name isn't attached to any of these bad ideas.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Some inventions can be celebrated during their time, but are proven to be devastating in the long run.
  • The inventions doesn't have to be physical. Complex mathematical creations that create money for Wall Street can do as much damage, in theory, as a gas that destroys the ozone layer.
  • Inventors can even see their creations be used for purposes far different than they had intended.
Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less