Women's Empowerment

Women's Empowerment

Gender diversity and decision-making in teams

V. Salvestrini with M. Ronchi.

This paper investigates the effect of gender diversity in teams on their decision-making process and the quality of decisions.  We focus on the Italian judicial system and assemble a novel database containing the universe of collegial ruling sentences from first, second, and last instance criminal courts in the district of Naples and Florence. Exploiting the quasi-random allocation of both judges and cases to judicial panels, in which ruling takes place collegially, we find that mixed-gender teams rule more leniently on similar offenses. The effect is driven by all-women panels ruling more severely, and it is non-linear in the number of women in the panel. Moreover, all-men teams take less to reach a decision, but they are also more likely to be perceived as wrong when ruling guilty - while we find no such effect for mixed-gender or all-women panels. Finally, we investigate whether gender diversity affects the quality of the final ruling as measured by the probability that the decision taken by the judicial panel is confirmed or overturned in subsequent courts, and find that mixed-gender teams are 5 percentage points more likely to take better decisions than gender-homogeneous teams.