Table of Contents

Getting Women on to Corporate Boards

Getting Women on to Corporate Boards

A Snowball Starting in Norway

Edited by Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen and Marina Brogi

This book provides unique insights into how the idea of quota laws to get women on to corporate boards gained international momentum from its origins in Norway. Invaluable insights are gained through the stories of actors involved in shaping the discourse and practice on women of boards.

Chapter 24: Policy approaches to gender diversity on boards: an introduction to characteristics and determinants

Silke Machold and Katrin Hansen

Subjects: business and management, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, gender and management


The debate on women in corporate boards has been intense. Part IV identified current research findings on the case for women on boards at different levels of analysis. Taken together, these findings make a compelling argument for increasing the number and overall proportion (or critical mass) of women on corporate boards. The key question, however, is how best to achieve this from a policy perspective. Broadly speaking, there are two approaches. The first one, and one which is gaining momentum in national policy debates, is to mandate women’s representation through a legal quota regime. The second approach involves creating environments conducive to promoting female representation on boards, and using codes of corporate governance to encourage companies to reflect on their practices and policies towards gender diversity on boards. And, of course, countries may chose to ignore the issue altogether. Before introducing the contributions in Part V, it is therefore apposite to reflect on these approaches, both within a broader political economy, legal regimes and economic development debate, as well as in relation to the experiences with these approaches to date. Political economists have long been interested in the extent to which market-based economies differ in their institutional and coordination structures, and whether and how such differences translate into variances in economic performance (Hall and Soskice, 2001). This ‘varieties of capitalism’ perspective contrasts liberal market economies (LMEs) at one end of the spectrum with coordinated market economies (CMEs) at the other (Hall and Soskice, 2001; Hall and Gingerich, 2009), with some scholars adding mixed-market economies (MMEs), a group which shares some similarities with the CMEs (Hall and Gingerich, 2009).

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