Gender tokenism in corporate boardrooms in Europe

While women constitute 25% of the board members in private European corporations, firms with no women are dominant and merely 10% of firms report more than one woman in the boardroom. We leverage new data, covering 5 million companies from 29 European countries spanning 1986-2020. Using this data, we provide novel stylized facts about the phenomenon of token women in European corporate boardrooms. We emphasize the differences between two types of situation when the corporate boardroom hosts a singular woman: the appointment of the first woman and the barriers to further rise in diversity. We thus contribute to improving our understanding of the conflict between the tokenism hypothesis and diversity spillover hypothesis.

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