What’s It Like Inside the Hive? Managerial Discretion Drives TMT Gender Diversity of Women-Led Firms. By: Corwin, Emily S.; Loncarich, Holly; Ridge, Jason W. Journal of Management. May2021.

Do women promote other women? We investigate this question through the lens of gender role theory and managerial discretion. While the trickle-down effect suggests that women in positions of power are likely to promote other women, the queen bee phenomenon indicates that senior women distance themselves from other women. We argue these two conflicting perspectives have developed because (a) much of the literature has considered the influence of board gender representation on top management team (TMT) gender representation, ignoring the role of the CEO, and (b) an important tenet of the queen bee phenomenon has been overlooked in that women who perceive an ability to challenge traditional gender norms are less likely to engage in queen bee behavior. Thus, we suggest women CEOs, who are in a unique position of both importance and isolation, are less likely to promote other women to the TMT due to the gendered context in which they are employed, but as the CEO’s capacity to enact change (i.e., managerial discretion) increases, so too does their ability to challenge traditional gender norms. More specifically, we hypothesize and find that while the presence of women CEOs negatively relates to the proportion of women on the TMT, this relationship is weakened by CEO power, lack of board vigilance, and environmental munificence. Post hoc analyses demonstrated that while a trickle-down effect occurs from the board to the TMT, these mechanisms may not exist at the CEO-TMT interface, highlighting the importance of considering the role of CEO discretion in enhancing executive gender diversity.