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Women on board: the disregarded issue of board interlocks

Christina Öberg (The Ratio Institute, Stockholm, Sweden and School of Business, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 2 July 2020

Issue publication date: 3 March 2021




Gender diversity is extensively debated and researched in relation to corporate boards. The focus on the gender composition on single boards neglects an important issue: that of how the power of board members is impacted by their representation on other boards. Board interlocks refer to how a board member is also represented on other companies’ boards, and such representation expectedly makes the individual board member more influential in the boardroom than non-connected board members. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether and how female board interlocks are considered in previous research on gender diversity on boards.


A systematic literature review was conducted. It comprised 71 highly cited articles. The articles were analyzed to grasp their content, and specifically, female influence in the boardroom related to power.


The literature review reveals that the interlock perspective is rare in studies on women’s board representation. This is so, even while evidence is provided that females often need companions to get their meanings across on the boards, despite how interlocks would create one link of such power, and although the literature points to how female board representation plays a part to explain performance, social responsibilities and overall strategic directions of firms.


Contributions are made to previous research by indicating the potential of further research in a largely neglected area of research while also summarizing the previous reporting on women on boards.



Öberg, C. (2021), "Women on board: the disregarded issue of board interlocks", Gender in Management, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 39-60.



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