A potential solution for an economic challenge — increasing needed foreign direct investment (FDI) — is proposed using a human resource development perspective: equally investing in the development of men and women to serve in public leadership. This cross-sectional, nonexperimental study addressed a void in the literature by examining the impact of women in public leadership on FDI through lowered perceived corruption and increased national investment in healthcare. Structural equation modeling using a simple path model was used to test relationships between observable variables. Results included statistically significant relationships between the number of women in public leadership and lower levels of perceived corruption, between lower levels of perceived corruption and greater national investment in healthcare, and between greater national investment in healthcare and increased FDI countries received. Additionally, a fully mediated, indirect relationship between the number of women in public leadership and FDI countries received was statistically significant. That is, as the number of women increased within governments, levels of perceived corruption decreased, national investment in healthcare increased, and FDI increased. Ultimately, this study provides empirical results professionals and institutions can use to advocate for gender equitable vertically integrated human resource development, particularly within developing countries, to promote FDI and its related benefits.
Keywords: women, public leadership, corruption, foreign direct investment, healthcare