Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo
Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo

Companies that employ female managers are more successful than those dominated by men, according to recent research.

Shareholder returns were on average 53% higher and profit margins 42% better in companies where at least one in three board members were female, according to research by services company Sodexo.

Andre Spicer, professor of organisational behaviour at City University, London, said that the study was the latest to establish a link between female management and improved corporate performance.

"By appointing more women, companies have a more diverse workplace where traditional assumptions are challenged, leading to better products, better services and more innovation," he told the Sunday Times.

In response to a 2011 study by the Harvard Business Review that showed women comprehensively outscore men in areas of competency required by managers Erika Andersen, founder of Proteus International and author, wrote in Forbes: "[Women] build better teams; they're more liked and respected as managers; they tend to be able to combine intuitive and logical thinking more seamlessly; they're more aware of the implications of their own and others' actions; and they think more accurately about the resources needed to accomplish a given outcome."

Companies with more women on the board maintain more effective oversight over the chief executive and have better board meeting attendance, according to a 2008 study by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

But Debbie White, 51, chief executive of Sodexo UK and Ireland, warned that tokenism would not work.

"One woman around the table won't improve company performance. You have to overcome the lone voice syndrome for diversity to be successful," she said.

However, recent figures show little recent increase in the number of female executive directors in the UK. A survey by BoardWatch showed that 19% of board directors at Britain's 100 largest companies are women, up from 12.5% in 2011. Yet the number of female executive directors has risen only from 5.5% to 6% over the same period.

A study in August by the Chartered Management Institute showed that male managers received average bonuses more than twice as large as those awarded to women.

Britain lags behind other countries in the number of women employed in senior management positions, including China, where 51% are women.

According to figures released last year by the Office for National Statistics, Britain employs more women in management positions than Germany, Spain or Italy, but fewer than France, where 39% are women, compared with the UK's 35%.