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The womenomics project is led by Professor Sucheta Nadkarni, Sinyi Professor of Chinese Management and Head of the Strategy & International Business subject group, in collaboration with Dr Elaine Oon, Assistant Professor, University of Malaya, and Dr Jenny Chu Lecturer in Accounting at the School. The project focusses around the issue of females in boardrooms and top management teams. Several academic research papers and white papers have been produced within this theme of research.

Global enablers and inhibitors of women rise to boardrooms

This project, funded by BNY Mellon examines the global enablers and inhibitors of women rise to boardrooms. Using a sample of over 1000 large multi-national companies from 42 countries, this study uncovers how economic, political, legislative and cultural factors shape female board percentage as well as turnover. The white paper documenting the results of this study won awards in two categories at investment week innovation and marketing annual awards: thought leadership and most innovative event. It  was nominated for the 2016 Vice Chancellor's research impact award at the University of Cambridge. It was also cited extensively in top global media outlets and in the Lord Davies report on women in boards commissioned by the UK government. 

Womenomics: The Rise of Women in Society

The issue of the rise of women to the boardroom has taken centre stage among academicians and practitioners alike. It has also generated controversy and debate.

Read the white paper

Presentation of academic papers

Academic papers based on this project have been presented at top conferences in management:

Nadkarni, S., Oon, Y.N. and Jenny Chu. The Global Drivers of Female Board Representation: A Multi-theoretical Perspective. Academy of Management Annual Meeting, BPS Division, 5-9 August, Anaheim, CA, USA, 2016


We integrate the resource dependence and institutional economics theories to theorise and test the global drivers of female board representation on corporate boards. We examine both female board percentage (inclusiveness) and female board turnover (sustainability). Using a longitudinal panel dataset of 1071 firms across 42 countries over a 10-year period (2004 to 2013) and qualitative interviews of 25 female board members from four countries, we find support for our predictions. The resource dependence variable of female economic empowerment (female education and employment levels in a country) related positively to female board percentage and negatively to female board turnover. However, the institutional economics variable of female board legislative quotas related positively to both female board percentage and turnover. We also found that female economic empowerment and female board legislative quotas interacted positively and reinforced each other's effects in predicting female board percentage but did not interact in influencing female board turnover. The qualitative interviews shed light on the underlying mechanisms of these relationships as prescribed in the two theories. Our study illuminates the importance of utilising a multi-theoretic approach in explaining the global nature of the female board representation phenomenon.

Nadkarni, S., Oon, Y.N. and Jenny Chu. Global Institutional Drivers of Female Representation on Corporate Boards. Strategic Management Society, September, Berlin, Germany, 2017. 


We adopt the institutional economics perspective to explain the global drivers of female representation on corporate boards. Based on a sample of 1071 largest global firms from 42 countries between 2004 and 2013, we found two major results. First, legislative gender board quotas (formal institutions) and gender diversity requirement in corporate governance codes (informal institutions) in the home country related positively to female board percentage. Second, the two institutional drivers interacted positively and reinforced each other in enhancing female board percentage. Our study highlights the role of institutional drivers in shaping female board representation globally. The interaction of quotas and corporate governance codes is insightful in addressing the controversy surrounding legislative gender board quotas and has important policy implications.


Moving beyond corporate boards: the drivers of female representation in executive teams

This project, collaborated with the 30% club, examines the industry and legislative drivers of women in executive teams in a sample of 1100 large multi-national companies from 43 countries. The white paper outlining the results of the study was featured in several top global media outlets.

Looking beyond Corporate Boards

The issue of female representation in corporate leadership positions has taken centre-stage among policy-makers, corporations and academics alike. Despite emerging research, understanding remains limited.

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We Need a Greater Focus on the Benefits Women in Top Executive Roles Bring to Companies

Recruiting women to corporate boards and top executive roles helps businesses find the best people and reach key consumers.

Read the feature

Individual, organisational and cultural drivers of male and female career trajectories in the private equity industry

Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) and Level 20 are carrying out a ground-breaking research of individuals' career paths in the European private equity industry. The objective of the Survey is to gather information from a very large number of industry participants, which will help understand the unique career progressions of executives in the private industry and the various factors that shape this progression. The results of the Survey will be analysed by the research team at Cambridge Judge Business School. Level 20 and Cambridge Judge will publish a report for the private equity industry later this year.

Research in the media