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Board composition and gender sensitivity approach in Italian universities

Romilda Mazzotta (Department of Business Administration and Law, University of Calabria, Rende, Italy)
Maria Teresa Nardo (Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Calabria, Rende, Italy)
Patrizia Pastore (Department of Business Administration and Law, University of Calabria, Rende, Italy)
Giovanna Vingelli (Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Calabria, Rende, Italy)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 2049-372X

Article publication date: 28 April 2020

Issue publication date: 18 November 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether the gender composition of the board of directors affects the sensitivity to gender issues in defining university strategies and therefore strategic plans.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted an ordinary least square regression to test the relationship between gender sensitivity approach and board composition in Italian state universities (ISUs). The authors measured the gender sensitivity approach of each university by an index (gender sensitivity approach index) determined based on content analysis. Gender board composition is, instead, analyzed by heterogeneity (homogeneity) index (Herfindahl–Hirschman Index) of the board.

Findings

The finding suggests that, if the board has a certain level of heterogeneity, then university strategic plan (USP) is a more gender-sensitive approach.

Research limitations/implications

The study analyses only the 2018 USPs of ISUs and considers the presence of women within the board, and not their actual role and their position in the university hierarchy.

Practical implications

The practical implication of this study is that if universities want to guarantee gender equality, they should open their boards more widely to women.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first work that analyzes the relationships between board composition and sensitivity to gender issues within the USPs. The paper therefore contributes to the literature on governance in the public sector, particularly in universities. Moreover, it stimulates the accounting debate on gender issue and highlights that gender issues cannot be taken up by decision-making bodies that are not heterogeneous enough.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

We thank the anonymous referee for his/her helpful comments.

Author contributions: All authors wrote the paper but their primary individual contributions are reflected as follows: Sections 3, 4.3 and 5.2 are to be ascribed to Romilda Mazzotta; Sections 4.2, 5.1 and 6 are to be ascribed to Maria Teresa Nardo; Sections 1 and 7 are to be ascribed to Patrizia Pastore; and Sections 2 and 4.1 are to be ascribed to Giovanna Vingelli. All the authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Citation

Mazzotta, R., Nardo, M.T., Pastore, P. and Vingelli, G. (2020), "Board composition and gender sensitivity approach in Italian universities", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 28 No. 6, pp. 1013-1036. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEDAR-06-2019-0517

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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