Purpose This paper aims to investigate the relationship between gender diversity in CEO positions and FinTech profitability by exploring the moderating role of the average board age on such a relationship. Design/methodology/approach A unique data set of Italian FinTech companies during the 2017–2019 period was used in an ordinary least square model specification. The model is designed to assess the relationship between the presence of a female CEO and FinTech profitability and the moderating role of the average age of governing board members. Findings The results of this study indicate that when the average age of the FinTech firm’s board members is relatively low, the profitability of those firms with female CEOs was not significantly different from the profitability of firms with male CEOs. However, among FinTech firms with relatively older board members, the profitability of those firms with a female CEO was lower. This empirical result seems to suggest that older board directors are less prone to recognize female CEO leadership qualities. This supports the need for FinTech firms to adopt good practices in board composition that favor gender inclusion and diversity on board. Originality/value The novelty of this study within the literature is that the empirical analysis added new evidence on the relationship between Female CEO and performance by exploring the moderating role of the average age of board members. Moreover, the empirical results of this study suggest specific conditions that could improve the profitability of female-led firms by removing the apparent biased perceptions about the quality of women in leadership among older board members.
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