Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Daniel Bradley, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Delroy Hunter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christos Pantzalis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ninon Sutton, Ph.D.


CEO Gender, Risk Aversion, Short-termism, Cash Holdings, CEO Compensation, Performance, Innovation


In the first essay I examine the cash policies of female-led firms. Recent research finds that female CEOs eschew riskier corporate policies, but it makes contradicting claims whether this is due to risk aversion. Benchmarking risk aversion by the management of firms’ cash, I find that female CEOs are risk averse relative to male CEOs. Specifically, they hold significantly (18%) more cash, even for the same level of dividend payout as male CEOs. Further, they have significantly higher speed of adjustment for cash deficits, are more likely to use excess cash to increase dividends, but are equally likely to use it to increase investment. Collectively, these results indicate that greater risk aversion in the general female population continues beyond the glass ceiling and likely influences female CEOs’ corporate policies. Nonetheless, cash held by female CEOs has greater marginal value, suggesting a dividend-clientele effect.

In the second essay I examine the impact of CEO gender on compensation keeping in view the corporate outcomes that they beget. Risk aversion may influence CEOs’ intertemporal choices and effort regarding short-term and long-term corporate activities. Given that females are more risk averse, I examine whether there are gender-based differences in short- and long-term corporate outcomes and whether these lead to gender-based disparity in CEO compensation. I find that female CEOs have significantly (10%) superior performance on short-term firm outcomes, but inferior (24%) performance on long-term outcomes, relative to male CEOs. However, for a given level of short-term (long-term) performance female CEOs obtain relatively more (less) short-term (short-term and long-term) compensation. The end result is that there is no difference in the total compensation between male and female CEOs. This suggests that female CEOs are well rewarded for their short-termism, enough to make up for their relative underperformance on long-term goals.