New research to be presented at a UNSW Gender Equity Forum, reveals that female directors have a significant impact on the effectiveness of a board, despite arguments that tokenism drives their selection.

This research, along with a discussion of gender differences in investor behaviour and how the right to vote for women has affected government spending in Switzerland, will be the focus of a Gender Equity Forum at the 20th Australasian Finance & Banking Conference.

The Forum will bring together renowned finance gender theorists who will discuss their gender-based research and field questions from the audience on a range of gender issues.

The panelists include: Associate Professor Raymond Da Silva Rosa, University of Western Australia; Professor Renee Adams, University of Queensland and Dr Patricia Funk, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.

Professor Adams will discuss her research on female directors, demonstrating that women have a significant impact on board effectiveness.

Dr Funk will present her paper 'What women want: Suffrage, the Gender Gaps in Voter Preferences and Government Expenditures'. Her study provides new evidence on how women's suffrage has affected government spending in Switzerland.

Associate Professor Da Silva Rosa will present an outline of gender diversity among Australian investors. He will provide some insights into gender differences in investing behaviour, including attitudes towards trading and risk.

"There's a definite need to understand gender differences in behavioural finance - this is particularly important for research in this area," said UNSW's Dr Kathy Walsh, convenor of the Gender Equity Forum.

"There has been a time-lag in terms of women filling executive positions in Australia, but this is starting to ease. Education is a key area in reforming gender under-representation, and universities have an obligation to investigate this. The better qualified women are, the bigger the pool of female executives to choose from," said Dr Walsh.

The Forum is part of the Australian Finance and Banking Conference, which attracts leading international banking and finance authorities. This year they will come together to discuss the main challenges affecting the banking and finance industries in the Asia Pacific region.

At The Gender Equity Forum an investment banking DVD will be launched, developed by investment firm UBS and the Australian School of Business. The DVD illustrates the inner workings of an investment bank and showcases a range of UBS employees.

"The DVD is informative and an important equity initiative because it helps to breakdown the investment-banking stereotype by showcasing a range of employees of different race, gender and age," said Dr Walsh.

What: The Gender Equity Forum When: Thursday, 13 December, 2007Where: Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, 5.30-7pm.

To register for the Gender Equity Forum, visit the Australian School of Business website.