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We study the impact of board gender quotas on firms’ hiring and retention practices. Female director tenure increases following the introduction of a quota in France in 2011, with stronger effects among less gender-diverse firms and firms that use networks for hiring. Female directors hired after the quota are more independent, more experienced, more internationally diverse, and no less academically qualified than those hired before the quota. The gender gaps in most director characteristics also narrow. The evidence suggests that board gender quotas force firms to change their hiring practices, which allow firms to tap into a deeper talent pool.

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