Thursday, 13 August 2015

Do Rwandan companies led by women have stronger health promotion among their employees?

There is a hypothesis about how companies are affected by their senior management, called upper echelons theory.  The idea is roughly that senior management make many of the important decisions in a company, and their decisions are influenced by their personal characteristics.

The theory has been applied to the role of women in senior management.  Some arguments are gender neutral - for example, if people are more familiar with their own gender and so tend to prefer it in business transactions, then women may be disadvantaged when men are in a majority, as they usually are.  If women were in a persistent majority, then men may instead find themselves excluded.  Other arguments are not gender neutral, but assert that there are essential differences in the management styles of men and women.  One claim is that women are more caring and supportive of their staff.

If women have a more caring attitude, then it may be apparent in the amount of health messages provided to their staff.  The table shows how frequently companies provide HIV prevention messages to their staff, split by the gender of the main manager.  The data is from Rwanda in 2010.

Percentage of companies with HIV prevention messages

 Companies headed by women provided fewer HIV prevention messages to their staff.  The figures are perhaps not comparable, as women are more likely to lead smaller companies which may not have many resources or need for such messages.  The next table shows the message provision, divided by company size.  For small and medium sized companies, male leadership was associated with more HIV prevention messages.  For large companies, there were more messages under female leadership.  However, the number of large companies led by women is so small that the results are determined by messages from a single company.

Percentage of companies with HIV prevention messages, by company size

Overall, it doesn't seem that female leadership was associated with more HIV prevention messages, at least in Rwanda (which may be anomalous, as it has very high gender equality).

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