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Feb 03, 2023

Governance Matters podcast: How women directors can navigate a ‘double bind’

This episode of the Governance Matters podcast looks at academic research revealing how women can negotiate traditional social expectations to have more influence in the boardroom

In recent years investors, regulators, lawmakers and other stakeholders have all been pushing for broader representation of women on boards. Progress has been made, but it’s not easy. As one headline in Fortune noted last year, ‘Women hold a record number of corporate board seats. The bad news: it’s barely over 25 percent, and it’s slowing down.’ Progress also remains a challenge beyond the numbers of board seats women fill. 

Dr Tiffany Trzebiatowski, assistant professor in the management academic department at Colorado State University, says women face a ‘double bind’ when it comes to fulfilling their potential in the boardroom: they are subject to traditional expectations to be ‘warm’ while also operating as competent leaders. They can face backlash if they don’t walk a tightrope based on other people’s gender-norm preconceptions. 

Trzebiatowski has been studying this double bind and how women directors cope with it. She and her colleagues interviewed more than 40 female directors and uncovered six participation tactics women use to mitigate these stereotypical concerns, achieve greater participation and add value without triggering a backlash.

In this episode of Corporate Secretary’s Governance Matters podcast, Trzebiatowski talks to host Jeff Cossette about these tactics, directors’ thoughts on how and when to use them and how corporate secretaries can help. Find out more by downloading the episode.

Click here to access the research.

The Governance Matters podcast provides listeners with insight into cutting-edge issues of the day for corporate secretaries, general counsel and other governance professionals.

The series looks at how the role of the corporate secretary and the board has evolved over time, as well as how the governance landscape continues to change. From ESG to entity management, shareholder engagement to technology, hear from award-winning governance professionals and leading advisers about the latest public company governance matters.

Click here to listen and subscribe on Apple podcasts, SpotifyAcast or wherever you get your podcasts.