Why “add women and stir” won’t change gender inequality on corporate boards

Kinomatics researchers Deb Verhoeven and Katarzyna Musial along with UTS colleagues Gerhard Hambusch, Samir Ghannam & Mikhail Shashnov’s have published an important new work,  “Net effects: examining strategies for women’s inclusion and influence in ASX200 company boards”The article, which has been downloaded almost 2500 times in just a few months, has made a splash by critiquing the idea that gender equality can only be measured in terms of statistical parity. This is the basis for many approaches to redressing inequality on corporate boards (and indeed in many other environments). The “30% club” for example, was established in 2015 to lift the number of women on Australian ASX200 boards by 2018 and by early 2019 they claimed success. This article interrogates what these numbers really mean. In using social network analysis to analyze the appointments to ASX200 company boards during the “success” period of 2015-2018, the researchers identified that despite an increase in the number of women holding board seats over this period, their agency remained unchanged. The effect of this was a smaller number of men holding relatively greater power.

Listen to Deb discussing the findings of this research with Helga Svendsen on her podcast Take On Board here.
Read media coverage about this research on The Mandarin here, on Crikey. here, or on The University of Sydney News here.