This paper investigates how the presence of female directors on corporate boards impacts the performance of family firms. This study enriches the literature on gender diversity on corporate boards and its effects on firm performance by focusing on a country in which family businesses are dominant. The empirical analysis is conducted on a sample of 165 Italian-listed firms from 2011 to 2016, representing the period during which the mandatory gender quota law was introduced and implemented in Italy. The results show a positive relationship between the presence of women on corporate boards and firm performance, specifically in family owned businesses. These findings lead to the conclusion that female directors do not have a negative impact on firm performance. And, given the domination of family businesses and a mandatory gender quota law in Italy, this study makes a regulatory and performance assessment not previously examined in the literature.

JEL Classifications: M1; M12; M48; M21.

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