Journal of Management & Governance

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 557–570 | Cite as

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

  • Paul Dunn


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.


Boards of directors Women Resource dependency Human capital 



This paper has benefited from the helpful comments made by the editor of this journal and three anonymous reviews, conference participants at the annual meetings of the Academy of Management, the International Association for Business and Society, the American Accounting Association, as well Barbara Sainty, Lori Ryan, Phil Cochran, and Ann Buchholtz. Research assistance was provided by Rylan Cotrell, Melanie Steele, and Sarah King.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of BusinessBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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