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Locating women board members in gendered director networks

Rosanne Jane Hawarden (Massey University, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Stephen Marsland (Massey University, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 8 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the extensive study of director interlocks very little is known about gendered director networks. Boards of directors are primarily male; globally, only 5‐20 per cent of directors are women and change is described as glacially slow. The extent to which women directors are central to the network, or pushed to the margins, is unknown. Using the tools of social network analysis we extract the components of three director networks, a global and two national networks and locate the women directors. The paper aims to examine the persistence of director networks over time to determine whether gender related differences – apart from size – contribute to the apparent resistance to change.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a longitudinal approach, comparing director networks on a global network scale (2004 and 2007 Fortune Global 200) and a national one (2004 and 2007 New Zealand Stock Exchange) with the iconic 1999 Fortune US 1000 dataset. After extracting the largest connected component, the female directors are separated out. From the 2004 and 2007 data director turnover is calculated to determine the stability of the networks.

Findings

Female directors are more likely to be found in the largest connected component of the mixed gender network, indicating that they are not marginalised. Despite high turnover rates, director networks are stable over time which may manifest as resistance to change.

Originality/value

The structure of gendered director networks is unknown and the location of women directors in the network components has not been considered in board diversity research. The results point to an underlying gender equity in all director networks. A new theoretical approach, glass network theory, has implications for boardroom diversity interventions.

Keywords

Citation

Hawarden, R.J. and Marsland, S. (2011), "Locating women board members in gendered director networks", Gender in Management, Vol. 26 No. 8, pp. 532-549. https://doi.org/10.1108/17542411111183866

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited