Barriers for Female Board Members

Annelouise Dolleris & Monica Halberg

Student thesis: Master thesis


Denmark has had a reputation for being an equal country, regarding gender equality. This though, has changed throughout the years - or more precisely, nothing has changed. In fact, the danish population is naively convinced that Denmark is an equal country, and therefore gender equality is not a topic given much attention. Denmark is not gender equal now, nor has it ever been. This master thesis examines the underrepresentation of female board members in a danish context. With only 6% of women in boards, we examine which barriers that may occur for the women with board aspirations. Furthermore, we explore which possible solutions the women find necessary, in order to get more women around the table. The study takes a phenomenological-hermeneutic research approach, and uses empirical data from 9 interviews, conducted with female board members from the female-only network, Bestyrelseskvinder. The collected data relies on a qualitative method, and the interviews have been conducted through semi-structured lifeworld interviews. This master thesis identifies the following findings and barriers: Bias and privilege - and the various faces these have, are some of the most common barriers for women in boards. The dominating male networks and recruitment through these, are also one of the major barriers. Furthermore, the women struggle with finding the right balance between a maskulin and feminin approach to leadership and decision making, and this falls back on the differentiated expectations towards each gender. Lastly, societal structures constitute a huge obstacle for women, regarding maternity leave and the societal expectations towards motherhood, and what motherhood should look like. These societal bias and expectations, maintains both men and women in the stereotypical gender roles, which makes the male the dominant gender. In order to get more women into boards, some of the womens solutions amongst others, are to change the bias, that goes that women are not biologically made for leadership, and therefore are less suited for these roles, than men. Furthermore, the women find it necessary to rethink and rebrand quotas, as some of them find these a necessity in order to bring more women to the boardroom. Finally, a solution is gender neutral recruitment processes and realizing the non-existing gender equality, in order to change it

EducationsMSocSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages104