The Corporate Board Glass Ceiling: The Role of Empowerment and Culture in Shaping Board Gender Diversity

Krista B. Lewellyn, Maureen I. Muller-Kahle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


In this study, we use a mixed methods research design to investigate how national cultural forces may impede or enhance the positive impact of females’ economic and political empowerment on increasing gender diversity of corporate boards. Using both a longitudinal correlation-based methodology and a configurational approach with fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis, we integrate theoretical mechanisms from gender schema and institutional theories to develop a mid-range theory about how female empowerment and national culture shape gender diversity on corporate boards around the world. With our configurational approach, we conceptually and empirically model the complexity that is associated with the simultaneous interdependencies, both complementary and substitutive ones, between female empowerment processes and various cultural dimensions. Our findings contribute unique insights to research focused on board gender diversity as well as provide information for firm decision makers and policymakers about possible solutions for addressing the continuing issue of the underrepresentation of women on corporate boards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-346
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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