Gender and Corporate Boards: The Route to A Seat at The Table, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Gender and Corporate Boards

The Route to A Seat at The Table, 1st Edition

By Scarlett Brown, Elisabeth K Kelan


160 pages

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Hardback: 9781138652446
pub: 2020-01-24
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The lack of women on boards has galvanised much public and policy interest, which has led to many countries introducing quotas for women on boards, or to concerted voluntary action. However the way that directors are appointed remains opaque and prone to the influence of gender.

Using a social constructionist understanding of gender and a discourse analysis, Gender and Corporate Boards explores the board appointment process through the experiences of women and men seeking non-executive board roles. The book is unique in that it traces board-ready candidates, who have been vetted by an executive search firm, over an 18-month period. By taking a longitudinal and prospective view rather than retrospective and snapshot, it provides deep analysis of how the board appointment process is gendered. This volume privileges the voices of those who are seeking board roles to show how they make sense of an unpredictable and complex process.

Gender and Corporate Boards first analyses how aspirant board candidates see themselves in relation to the market, through exploring their perceptions of the ideal board member and how they position themselves towards this ideal. Second, the book shows how candidates must leverage their networks to get board appointments, and that the process is gendered: women and men receive different benefits from their networks. Third, the book explores how the participants make sense of success and failure and how their justifications are also gendered.

The book will be of interest to those seeking to understand dynamics of gender on boards as well as those interested in gender and leadership more broadly.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1 - Golden Times for Women on Boards?

Chapter 2 – Gender and Corporate Boards

Chapter 3 - The Ideal Board Member

Chapter 4 – The Art of Networking

Chapter 5 - Leaning In and Sitting Back

Chapter 6 – Gender and the Pathway to the Boardroom



About the Authors

Scarlett Brown is Director of Research at the Centre for Tomorrow’s Company, a non-profit think tank based in London, United Kingdom.

Elisabeth Kelan is Professor of Leadership and Organisation at Essex Business School, University of Essex, United Kingdom.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Gender and Organizations

Although still a fairly young field, the study of gender and organizations is increasingly popular and relevant. There are few areas of academic research that are as vibrant and dynamic as the study of gender and organizations. While much earlier research has focused on documenting the imbalances of women and men in organizations, more recently, research on gender and organizations has departed from counting men and women. Instead research in this area sees gender as a process: something that is done rather than something that people are. This perspective is important and meaningful as it takes researchers away from essentialist notions of gender and opens the possibility of analysing the process of how individuals become women and men. This is called ‘gendering’, ‘practising gender’, ‘doing gender’ or ‘performing gender’ and draws on rich philosophical traditions.


Whilst Routledge Studies in Gender and Organizations has a broad remit, it will be thematically and theoretically committed to exploring gender and organizations from a constructivist perspective. Rather than focusing on specific areas of organizations, the series is to be kept deliberately broad to showcase the most innovative research in this field. It is anticipated that the books in this series will make a theoretical contribution to the field of gender and organization based on rigorous empirical explorations.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Human Resources & Personnel Management
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Women in Business