Only 32 out of 500 companies in the US S&P 500, or 6.4%, have a female CEO. It’s a similar story in the UK, with 13 women running companies in the FTSE 350 (3.7%) and just 6 in the FTSE 100.

Last year CEOs named Stephen in FTSE 100 outnumbered female bosses. For traders, a key question is whether a female CEO’s appointment has any short-term impact on a company’s share price.

A 2019 study by François Longin and Estefania Santacreu-Vasut of France’s ESSEC Business School found that female investors react more positively to a female CEO, while male investors react more positively when a company appoints a man.

When a woman was appointed in a blaze of publicity, the company’s share price fell

Given that most traders and portfolio managers are men, this would suggest that appointing a female CEO should cause a company’s share price to fall. However, a 2015 study by J. Christian Ola of Waynesburg University and Dennis Proffitt of Grand Canyon University finds no statistical difference between the stock market reaction to both the appointment and departure of male and female CEOs.

Other studies suggest that things are a little more complicated. A 2016 study by Ned Smith of Kellogg School of Management looked at 8,179 CEO appointments at more than 2,500 publicly traded companies from 2000 to 2014. It found that while the average market reaction to appointing a female CEO was the same as that for appointing a man, the impact of a new female CEO differed depending on how much media coverage the move got.

When a woman was appointed in a blaze of publicity, the company’s share price fell; where there was little media reaction, it rose.

Kris Paterson is a writer for the global job search engine