Getting Women on to Corporate Boards
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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.
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Chapter 22: Lessons from previous research on women on boards for future research

Andrea D. Bührmann


‘Women on boards’ is a very complex and heterogeneous research subject. This has been pointed out in several studies. Basically they show that in the top European companies, women as members of boards are underrepresented (see Catalyst, 2011). Norway is still at the top of the table and has 37.9 percent women on boards. Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium and France have more than doubled the number of women on boards from 2004 to 2010 (see European Professional Women’s Network, 2012), whereas Germany, with percent women on boards, remains almost at the bottom of the table. Different developments have taken place in Europe designed to improve the numbers of women on boards and in top leadership roles. The quota legislation and the introduction of corporate governance codes together with equal access legislation currently are perceived as having a significant impact, as well as increased shareholder and media scrutiny of board membership. However we do not know much about the impact of these developments, just as we do not know how different processes and practices interact and what are their potential effects on the number of women on board. Based on these macro-level data, studies from economic, (social) psychological, sociological and political perspectives have already discovered new insights about women on boards. On an individual level, supply- and demand-side explanations are given.

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