No Seat at the Table - How Corporate Governance and Law Keep Women Out of the Boardroom

Douglas M. Branson, University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Chapter 7 from NO SEAT AT THE TABLE (NYU Press 2007).


Based upon substantial numbers of women enrolling in MBA and law programs, from the 1970s onward expectations have been high. With 25 and later 36% female MBA matriculates, and 33% and later 49-51% in law, by the 21st Century the expectation was that great numbers of women would populate the CEO suites and boardrooms in the U.S.

NO SEAT AT THE TABLE (NYU Press 2007) documents how the numbers lag badly behind the expectations, and how the reality lags further yet behind the numbers. Analyses of Fortune 500 proxy data, as the enclosed chapter demonstrates, produce scant reason to posit a reversal of the leaky pipe phenomenon any time soon. The number of women directors remains static, or grows only slowly, while the number of women trophy directors, those who 4 or more directorships, has increased rapidly. These and other factual findings support the proposition that the glass ceiling remains in place.

NO SEAT AT THE TABLE explores explanations for women's failure to advance in the number one would have predicted. Further, NO SEAT AT THE TABLE offers suggestions both for women who wish to advance and for corporations which wish to facilitate entry of more women into the pool from which corporate directors may be chosen.