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14 Women advancing onto the corporate board Val Singh, Susan Vinnicombe and Siri Terjesen Introduction In the last decade, there has been increasing awareness of the slow pace of advancement of women onto corporate boards, despite over thirty years of equal opportunities policies. The lack of female representation in corporate decision-making is now an important issue for policy-makers, particularly in Scandinavia where political intervention is underway. Gender diversity on corporate boards is an emergent issue for developing economies such as India and China, and some countries in the Middle East (Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco) are also starting to recognize the importance of developing their female talent up to board level. Indeed, until recently, the lack of women on top corporate boards appeared to be a global phenomenon, with women constituting less than 15 per cent of members of top company boards in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many European countries. However, by 2005, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Finland had at least 15 per cent female representation on their top 50 corporate boards (European Commission, 2005). In this chapter, we consider theoretical perspectives that shed light upon the persistence of this phenomenon and how positive change can be achieved. We examine the international statistics on women directors, including those from Scandinavia where quota systems have recently been introduced. We then consider the characteristics of companies that have appointed women directors. This is followed by an examination of the characteristics of women directors on...
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