Women Getting into Boards Report 2009

on Thursday, 17 May 2012. Posted in Transform, ACLW Research

Women Getting into Boards Report 2009

The Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (ACLW) in 2009 conducted an online survey in 2009 about the difficulties women face getting into boards.   317  women participated in the survey, with 92% being Australian.  

The findings reveal key insights into why there are so few women on boards and the effectiveness of resources to enable women’s access into boards. A number of recommendations are made for workplaces, government and boards to undertake to assist women achieve board position.

This Report was widely featured in the Australian media when released. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick supported this Report through a media release.  In 2009 the Australian Securities Exchange Corporate Governance Council made an announcement about gender diversity measures which was a major turning point for women. 

Executive Summary of Women Getting into Boards Report

As the implementation of quotas is being debated in the community to ensure a gender balance in board composition, it is clear that we have reached the point where stricter measures are being considered to effect change of the size and scope needed. The Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (CLW)  released its findings on 22 September 2009 based on a survey of 317 women, 93% of whom were Australian, on the difficulties women experience getting into boards.   

The Women Getting into Boards Report by Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey, Founder of CLW indicates that from women’s observations and insights about how to successfully achieve a board position, particularly in the private sector, it can be surmised that one ideally needs to:

•        be the right gender: male

•        have the right friends: corporate board members, high profile influential contacts

•        have the right experience:  have corporate board experience, financial or business experience; be financially independent in a full-time paid position

•        have the right skills set: financial, legal, management, leadership

•        have the right qualification: tertiary degree in finance, law, management

•        be of the right age: as skills set comes with considerable experience, being a young achiever is problematic

•        be in urban areas not rural

•        not be an immigrant or refugee

Women state that the recruitment process of boards predominantly is inequitable as it lacks transparency, clearly defined and realistic criteria and is advertised to a selective group.   Women do not have the opportunity to apply because they do not know which boards have vacancies. When they do apply, they are judged against criteria which are discriminatory and attitudes which rate their achievements and experiences as unimportant and un-transferable.  

This study reveals why women want to join boards? Which resources do they access and consider most effective? What can workplaces and the Government do to assist them in their board membership aspirations.  The findings of this study will apply to women, workplaces, government and most significantly to boards. Board members will gain an insight into the perceptions women have of how boards operate and how boards could benefit by adopting their suggestions without them being imposed on them.


The Complete Research Report is at