Women in the Boardroom:  10 Insights on Getting a Seat

Blog Post created by katie.mehnert Champion on Jun 5, 2017

A recent board report and survey conducted by Women in the Boardroom revealed ten challenges and opportunities experienced by senior-level executive women as they journey to the boardroom.  Founder of WIB, Sheila Ronning's goal was to understand what motivates them, inspires them, stymies them or helps them get that board seat.


Here are the ten insights. A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.


  • Male networks dominate board searches. Ninety percent of women feel that male networks dominate corporate board searches. More than 60% of women agree that male networks function more effectively than female ones.
  • The case for gender diversity in the boardroom is not yet universally made. Only 50% of women feel that gender diversity in the boardroom is broadly understood to be good for business, despite evidence pointing to multiple benefits of gender diversity.
  • Securing a board seat is a mysterious process. Seventy six percent feel that the process of board appointments is opaque and mysterious in comparison to the usual professional career advancement.
  • Women may need to navigate the glass cliff to succeed. Fifty-two percent of women feel that female board director opportunities often represent a “glass cliff” where women were more likely to be appointed in times of crisis — and are therefore more likely to fail.
  • Imposter syndrome impacts women more negatively than men. Seventy percent of women feel “imposter syndrome,” where an individual feels unworthy or unqualified for a role, is more likely to be felt by women than men, and is an active deterrent to female advancement.
  • Women believe opportunities will continue to increase. There is reason to feel confident that women will continue to make this uncertain journey to the boardroom.
  • Many more women are out there, who can show up, stand up, and speak up. The real talent pool for board service is larger than the pool we see. Eighty-six percent of women agree that many women qualified for board service do not realize that board service is an option for them, and don’t put themselves forward.
  • Women are not in this alone. Sixty-one percent have found their network helpful. Fifty-five percent have found help from mentors or sponsors.
  • Board service is hot. Seventy percent of women surveyed consider board service a high or top career priority. 
  • Women are optimistic. Sixty-two percent of women surveyed feel confident that they will get a board seat and feel prepared to serve.


About Women in the Boardroom

Founded in 2002 by board strategist and expert, Sheila Ronning, Women in the Boardroom celebrated a milestone in March 2017 with its 125th board opening opportunity offered to its members.