, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 39-49

Women Board Directors: Characteristics of the Few

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Abstract

Appointment as a director of a company board often represents the pinnacle of a management career. Worldwide, it has been noted that very few women are appointed to the boards of directors of companies. Blame for the low numbers of women of company boards can be partly attributed to the widely publicized "glass ceiling". However, the very low representation of women on company boards requires further examination. This article reviews the current state of women's representation on boards of directors and summarizes the reasons as to why women are needed on company boards. Given that more women on boards are desirable, the article then describes how more women could be appointed to boards, and the actions that organizations and women could take to help increase the representation of women. Finally, the characteristics of those women that have succeeded in becoming members of company boards are described from an international perspective. Unfortunately, answers to the vexing question of whether these women have gained board directorships in their own right as extremely competent managers, or whether they are mere token female appointments in a traditional male dominated culture, remains elusive.