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Women Not on Boards: A Case Study of female non-executive corporate board directorship in Ireland, comparing the perspectives of women not on boards to those who are

Ryan, Marion (2019) Women Not on Boards: A Case Study of female non-executive corporate board directorship in Ireland, comparing the perspectives of women not on boards to those who are. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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Female under-representation in corporate boardrooms has been much documented, with debate ongoing in the areas of why the gap exists, the benefits of the balanced membership of women on boards and on the tactics most effective in improvement. Ireland lags behind its EU counterparts in efforts to reach gender parity on the boards of publicly traded companies and despite much discussion and attempts to address the situation, there remains a distinct lack of academic research into the reasons why it persists in Ireland. This research seeks to investigate some of the underlying reasons for the gap in Ireland and to suggest the most apt approaches for improvement. This objective is achieved by probing and comparing the motivations, perceptions and experiences of a woman currently serving on a corporate board with those women who could be on the board of a PLC, but are not, an area previously unstudied in an Irish context and internationally.

Design & Methodology
A qualitative, small scale, comparative case study, using semi-structured interviews has been completed with four senior female executives, one of whom currently serves on a PLC board in Ireland, three who do not. This method was deemed most appropriate to explore in depth the women’s perspectives on boardroom gender imbalance and to gain comparative insight into the real life experiences and motivations of women working at the most senior levels of the Irish corporate sphere. The findings from these interviews were then analysed to identify themes, commonalities and contradictions, which were subsequently appraised in the context of the existing literature.

As acknowledged in the literature, the topic of Women on Boards is broad and complex and spans multiple fields of study. The consolidated themes that emerge from the case study analysis, in line with previous research, show that there are both supply and demand side factors, individual, institutional and societal, that are not conducive to women gaining non-exec PLC board membership in Ireland. The findings demonstrate aspects of Pipeline and Process that impact Irish women’s progression to PLC boardroom, either barriers or enablers, depending on perspective. These are shown to include (i) Gender (ii) Motivation and Desirability (iii) Personal factors (iv) Qualifications and Access and (v) Organisational Structures and Practices. Integration of the findings into existing literature and research, precipitates support for the Irish Government’s current approach to increasing female PLC board representation, while generating recommendations for accelerated progress. These include broader stakeholder engagement, particularly with women in the pipeline for NED positions and additional scrutiny of board attraction, identification and recruitment processes.

The originality and value of this research lies in its comparative exploration of the motivations and perceptions of a cohort of women that have been previously omitted in studies of Women on Boards. It encourages future researchers to look at the Women who are Not on Boards to further understand their position and to suggest practicable actions for improvement that directly include these women as an important resource for Publicly Traded Companies in Ireland.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > Gender
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > Leadership
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > Human Resource Management > Leadership
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > Issues of Labour and Work > Classes of Labour > Women and Work
Divisions: School of Business > Master of Business Administration
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ni Mhaicin
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2019 13:49
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2019 13:49

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