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Conference Proceedings (2016), 2016 Academy of Management (AOM) Proceedings, Academy of Management

Women Directors in Norway: The Multiple Paths to the Boards


Drawing on qualitative interviews, this study explores the life trajectories of 35 of the women directors with the most directorships in Norway. The interviews were conducted shortly after the implementation of the gender balance regulation for boards in public limited companies. This study offers insight into how structural changes in form of quotas and different life trajectories, including the accumulation and utilization of different types of capitals, have shaped women directors’ paths to these positions in multiple ways. We contribute by advancing theories about WoB and the use of national strategies. We found that the introduction of the quota law has, unsurprisingly, provided additional opportunities for the women in this study in terms of board positions. Nevertheless, we found diversity among the participants in this study. Hence, we demonstrate the importance of going beyond the surface level in order to understand diversity among women directors, including career trajectories and the accumulation and utilization of different forms of capitals. Building on Bourdieu’s ideas of multiple forms of capital, we explore how economic, cultural, social and symbolic forms of capitals have been accumulated and utilized differently by the women. We found that these women, albeit the majority of them not having the ‘conventional executive background’, have potentially relevant experiences and background for board positions. Hence, with the current focus on the use of strategies to increase women’s presence on boards, findings in this study suggest that the quota law in Norway has challenged the dominant ideas about suitability and desired background of directors beyond the ‘conventional executive path’.

GABALDON, P., HUSE, M. and GRÖSCHL, S. (2016). Women Directors in Norway: The Multiple Paths to the Boards. In: 2016 Academy of Management (AOM) Proceedings. Academy of Management.