University of Minnesota Alumni Association



"Women in the Boardroom," "Risks for Trans Teens," and "A Diabetes Breakthrough"

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Women in the Boardroom

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, more women have been asked to join the boards of American public companies. According to research from the Carlson School of Management and the Stockholm School of Economics, these gains aren’t widespread across all sectors but are mostly concentrated in companies that already had inclusive corporate cultures.

The findings came after researchers examined firms’ financial data, strength ratings for diversity policies, political leanings, and corporate board data, consisting of 34,283 directors from 5,936 U.S. public companies from 2005 to 2017. They found that inclusive companies react to what’s happening in the greater public discourse and then reach out beyond their existing networks when recruiting new board members. However, companies with less inclusive cultures often react negatively to increased public attention.

Researchers also found that more women on boards doesn’t weaken the quality of the board.

“Our research shows management previously focused on a very narrow pool, reinforcing the idea of the ‘Old Boys Club,’” says Tracy Wang, a finance professor in the Carlson School and coauthor of the study. “When we look at stock market reactions, we find investors have a more favorable view of these newly recruited female directors relative to the newly recruited male directors.”

This research was first published in The Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis.

Risks for Trans Teens

The teenage years are especially fraught when it comes to risky behaviors. But if you are trans or gender diverse—meaning a person who doesn’t see themselves on the male/female binary—the challenges can be life threatening.

Research from the U of M’s Medical School analyzed data from the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, a triennial, anonymous report that is one of the longest-running youth surveys in the U.S. The survey asked 9th and 11th graders, “Have you ever traded sex or sexual activity to receive money, food, drugs, alcohol, a place to stay, or anything else?” (Sex trading experiences can include survival sex, exploitation, violence, and trafficking.)

The results showed that 5.9 percent of transgender and gender diverse students reported trading sex, compared to 1.2 percent of cisgender students (those whose personal identity corresponds with their birth sex). What’s more, 75.9 percent of transgender and gender diverse students who traded sex had attempted suicide, compared to 30.1 percent who had not traded sex. For cisgender students, the suicide attempt rate for those who had traded sex was 45.9 percent, compared to 7.2 percent for those who hadn’t.

Transgender and gender diverse students are also at higher risk for several other mental health challenges, including selfinjury, anxiety, and depression.

This research first appeared in the March 2022 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

A Diabetes Breakthrough

Diabetes causes nearly 90,000 deaths each year—the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Researchers at the U of M and the Mayo Clinic have made a breakthrough discovery that may be a major step forward in curing this chronic condition by storing specialized pancreatic islet cells at a low temperature and then rewarming them, effectively paving the way for islet cell transplants. Now doctors may be able to take a group of cells from a healthy pancreas and transfer them to a recipient—who then can make and release insulin on her own.

The challenge has been that multiple donors are needed to achieve insulin independence in a recipient, which increases the risks that come from repeated surgeries and multiple rounds of immunosuppression induction. This new islet storage lets doctors pool islets from several donors and administer them with a single injection. In mice, transplantation of these cells cured diabetes in 92 percent of recipients within 24 to 48 hours after transplant.

“This method could revolutionize the supply chain for islet isolation, allocation, and storage before transplant,” says John Bischof, a mechanical engineering Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the Institute for Engineering in Medicine.

This study was originally published in the March 14 edition of Nature Medicine.

Thanks to University Relations for their help in compiling this information.

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