Board gender diversity in UK firms – recent trends and performance eEffects

Lynn Martin, Izzy W. Smith, Stephen Roper, Jonathan Scott

Research output: Preprint or Working paperWorking paper


This paper provides an overview of the position of women directors in UK firms. Based on data for all UK firms with more than three directors, this data provides a comprehensive picture of the position of women in UK business leadership and contributes to our understanding of progress towards achieving greater gender balance in the boardroom. Five key points emerge. •Female directors account for around 1:4 directors in UK firms but only around 1:10 businesses in the UK are female controlled. •Only 1:226 larger firms in this category have a majority of female directors. •The overall proportion of female directors in the UK has grown in recent years but slowly. At the rate of progress achieved over the 2003-2005 period, it will be the year 2225 before gender balance in company directorships is achieved in the UK. •There are a significant and interesting group of 12, 600 sisterhood companies in the UK – those wholly owned and led by women. Although they are predominantly services, these do firms exist in all business sectors with a focus on smaller companies. These firms represent an interesting potential focus for future research. •Our analysis of board gender diversity and business growth suggests that there is a business cost to gender balance in terms of foregone growth.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham
PublisherAston University
ISBN (Print)9781854497208
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

Bibliographical note



  • gender diversity
  • directors
  • business performance
  • business growth


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