As in many other countries, women are poorly represented at the highest levels of New Zealand organisations. This article discusses salient factors that emerged from a study of the decision‐making processes practised in the selection of chief executive officers (CEOs) in eight companies. The overall findings demonstrated informality, a lack of objective selection practices, and a reliance on networks for executive search. Specific additional factors impacting on women’s lack of advancement included: stereotyped views of CEOs based on masculine senior management cultures, homosocial reproduction and assessment based on traditional career models. Implied strategies for change include spotlighting any institutional sexism in selection by reviewing assessment practices. The article concludes by suggesting that working for “small wins” is likely to afford greater gains for women than attempting large‐scale change.
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