Mai Iskandar-Datta and Trang Doan to be published in finance journal

Professor of Finance Mai Iskandar-Datta and Trang Doan, a former Ilitch Business doctoral student, have co-authored an article titled, “Are female top executives more risk-averse or more ethical? Evidence from corporate cash holdings policy.” The article, which will be published in Journal of Empirical Finance, discusses the impacts of gender in the professional world with a focus on C-Suite decision making.


This study examines the impact of gender in the C-Suite on corporate decision making. In particular, we investigate the influence of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO)’s gender on the agency costs of free cash flow. We document that female CFOs reduce cash holdings in firms with excess cash, which should alleviate the agency conflict arising from managerial discretion. We also find that female CFOs at firms with surplus cash increase distributions to shareholders in the form of dividends. The empirical evidence also shows that the reduction in cash does not lead to suboptimal investment policies. Of the two competing hypotheses – gender-ethics hypothesis and risk-aversion hypothesis – these results are consistent with the view that female CFOs undertake more ethical but not more risk-averse decisions than their male counterparts. Our results are robust to a battery of robustness tests. 

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