New Rationales for Women on Boards

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, (2014), pp. 1–32

32 Pages Posted: 27 May 2014 Last revised: 4 Feb 2015

See all articles by Barnali Choudhury

Barnali Choudhury

University College London - Faculty of Laws

Date Written: May 26, 2014


Should measures promoting women to corporate boards be solely justified in terms of economic arguments? Traditionally, such measures have tended to rely on utilitarian arguments, despite the fact that the most prominent of these arguments — the relationship between women’s presence on boards and firm financial performance — is equivocal.

Conversely, this article argues that rationales for increasing women on boards should be based on both equality and economics grounds. An equality rationale is necessary as it clarifies the underlying issues which have given rise to the lack of women on boards as well as enables female representation to be valued in its own right, instead of in terms of business reform.

At the same time, an economic rationale remains necessary in order to convince ardent skeptics. Yet because the most prominent rationale is ambivalent, a new economic rationale is needed. This article proposes that the new rationale be drawn from strategic management theory to focus on the contributions women can make to the board decision-making process.

Keywords: corporate governance, gender, boards of directors, women, corporations

JEL Classification: K22, K10

Suggested Citation

Choudhury, Barnali, New Rationales for Women on Boards (May 26, 2014). Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, (2014), pp. 1–32. Available at SSRN:

Barnali Choudhury (Contact Author)

University College London - Faculty of Laws ( email )

Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens
London, WC1E OEG
United Kingdom

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