Power and the Gender Imperative in Corporate Law
In Creating Corporate Sustainability. Gender as an Agent for Change, Beate Sjåfjell and Irene Lynch Fannon (eds), Cambridge University Press, 2018
Posted: 16 May 2018 Last revised: 16 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 16, 2018
Gender plays a critical role in the construction of corporate institutions and the regulatory infrastructure that governs them. The lack of women in executive positions and corporate boardrooms is a direct consequence of a male-dominated history, and so are the laws and norms guiding the institutions that hold immense power in society. This Chapter tackles difficult questions related to business and power through the lens of feminist legal theory, and provide an unapologetic and ambitious call to redesign existing power structures and internal power dynamics that are leading our world into environmental crises. It begins with a short primer on the social construction of gender, and how society continuously reinforces different behaviours from men and women. The Chapter then examines how gendered predispositions are imbued in the entrenched norms that dominate corporate law, and through implicit biases that prevent or slow the rise of women in the corporate world. These invisible power imbalances need to be widely recognized as they subvert the ability of women to attain meaningful positions of power that instigate change. A critical partnership must be forged between feminist legal theory and corporate sustainability to overcome the formidable challenges in attaining a greener future.
Keywords: Power, gender, corporate law, corporate governance, business, capital, shareholder primacy, feminist legal theory, sustainability, implicit bias
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