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Women and corporate boards of directors: The promise of increased, and substantive, participation in the post Sarbanes-Oxley era

By Dan R. Dalton and Catherine M. Dalton

Abstract

Few aspects of corporate board diversity have generated the focused attention that the participation, position, and promise of women's service on the board has generated, especially in recent years. Of particular note is the extent to which women serve on large firm boards of directors (e.g., Fortune 500 firms). Increases in levels of participation have been described as glacial. While critics decry the level of participation of women on large-scale corporate boards, careful scrutiny suggests substantial progress. Concurrent with steady increases in the overall participation of women on corporate boards are increases in their presence on key board committees. Importantly, women's leadership of key board committees and their service as lead directors has improved in parallel with increases in their board memberships. These increases are particularly noteworthy in the post Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) period. Such trends suggest the continued progress of women in assuming prominent positions in the corporate governance landscape, and provide evidence that the increasingly challenging environment in the post-SOX era has not attenuated the gains noted in the pre-SOX period.Women board members Board of directors Board member diversity Sarbanes-Oxley Act

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