International Research and Practice
Edited by Susan Vinnicombe, Val Singh, Ronald J. Burke, Diana Bilimoria and Morten Huse
Chapter 5: New Zealand Women Directors: Many Aspire but Few Succeed
Rosanne Hawarden and Ralph E. Stablein INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND Kate Sheppard features on the New Zealand ten dollar bill. She symbolizes the leadership role that New Zealand women have had and are playing in the development of a modern, global, deregulated economy. Kate Sheppard was the leader of the women’s suﬀragette movement in New Zealand, which resulted in this country being the ﬁrst to grant women the vote in 1893. Following the 2005 general election, women now make up 32 per cent of the current Parliament. Women hold or have recently held four of the ﬁve most senior constitutional positions in New Zealand: Governor-General, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Speaker of the House of Representatives (McGregor and Fountaine, 2006). Beginning in 1972, New Zealand led the world in ruthlessly deregulating its economy and exposing almost all sectors to international competition. Despite its small size with only 4.02 million people (Statistics New Zealand, 2006), the pioneering spirit which characterizes New Zealand has led to independent and innovative action both politically and economically. In this chapter we consider how the drive to gender equality has impacted on women on boards of directors. We outline a situation of unusual gender imbalance that is unique in global terms. Analysis of its genesis may illuminate the pressing problem of how to achieve more equitable gender balances on global boards of directors. New Zealand’s small corporate sector is a microcosm of Western business thought and practice. In 2004, there were some 160 000 for-proﬁt...
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