Barriers to Boardrooms

70 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2012 Last revised: 22 Jun 2015

See all articles by Renee B. Adams

Renee B. Adams

University of Oxford

Tom Kirchmaier

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance; Copenhagen Business School

Date Written: June 22, 2015


Boardroom diversity policies link societal and corporate governance objectives. To understand whether they can meet both objectives, we argue one must understand why female directors are relatively underrepresented. We document that boardroom diversity is lower than most surveys suggest. We then show that across countries and US states there are more women in the director pool when more women work full time. However, working full-time may not be sufficient for women to make it to the top because of economic and cultural barriers. Our evidence suggests current boardroom diversity policies may be less effective when barriers to boardrooms are bigger.

Keywords: Boardroom Diversity; Female Labor Force Participation; Culture; Quotas; Codes

JEL Classification: J16, J22, G34, G38

Suggested Citation

Adams, Renée B. and Kirchmaier, Tom, Barriers to Boardrooms (June 22, 2015). ECGI - Finance Working Paper No. 347/2013, Asian Finance Association (AsFA) 2013 Conference, Available at SSRN: or

Renée B. Adams

University of Oxford ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Tom Kirchmaier (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 207 955 6854 (Phone)


Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000

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