, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 557-570
Date: 05 Oct 2010

Breaking the boardroom gender barrier: the human capital of female corporate directors

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Abstract

Although there is a paucity of female corporate directors in Canada, women are slowly managing to break the gender barrier of all-male boards of directors. Using resource dependency theory a model is developed that identifies the human capital characteristics that contribute to a woman being appointed to an all-male board. The model is tested on a sample of 193 Canadian firms that appointed women to their boards of directors between 1996 and 2004. The results show that women who are appointed to all-male boards have specialized knowledge skills; either they have firm-specific knowledge as insiders, or they are support specialists with a specific financial or legal expertise.