Cathrine SeierstadI am a Norwegian academic that recently (2019) returned to Norway after 15 years in the UK. I currently work at the University of South-Eastern Norway as an Associate Professor in Business and Leadership. I did my PhD at Queen Mary, University of London (2011). After my PhD, i worked at Brunel University, University of Sussex and Queen Mary, University of London.

My expertise and research interests falls largely within the fields of leadership, equality, diversity and inclusion at work, women on boards, women in senior positions, corporate governance and CSR. My current research examines the wider effects of using strategies (including quotas) to increase gender balance on corporate boards in a variety of countries. Moreover, I am looking at the use of organizational and institutional strategies to increase the share of women in senior positions. In particular, my research focus on the developments of inequality regimes and the consequences of using strategies (compulsory and voluntary) to challenge inequality and increase diversity in the labour market. In addition, I have written on the topics of work-life balance, corporate governance, labour market segregation and diversity management.

I have recently edited three books on the topics of Board diversity and Diversity management and CSR. Moreover, I have published widely in journals such as: Work, Employment and Society; Human Resource Management Journal; Journal of Business Ethics; Corporate Governance: an International Review; Gender, Work and Organizations; European Management Review; Scandinavian Journal of Management, MAGMA and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. I also give talks internationally on topics related to diversity and inclusion at work, women on boards and leadership.

I have extensive teaching experience that is underpinned by my bachelor degree in pedagogy and social science and I have a PGCertHe (2015). I have experience from teaching on a variety of business subjects at both postgraduate and undergraduate levels.

For more information, see the about-page.

Recent activity


Paper published in Human Resource Management Journal.

Seierstad, C., Healy, G., Le Bruyn, E.S., and Fjellvær, H. (2020) A ‘quota silo' or positive equality reach? The equality impact of gender quotas on corporate boards in Norway. Human Resource Management Journal.

Abstract: 10 years after its implementation, we explore the equality reach of the 40% Norwegian gender quota regulation for boards of public limited companies (PLCs) using a multistrategy approach (administrative data and interviews with women directors) to capture interrelated macro and meso changes. We employ Acker's (2006) inequality regimes as our analytical framework, augmented by the “equality reach” concept. We found strong compliance with the 40% Quota. However, there was little evidence of voluntary spillover to limited companies as envisaged by Quota proponents; instead Quota coverage reduced as some PLCs changed status to avoid the Quota requirement. We reveal that positive equality reach in one of the most equal countries in the world is confined to a PLC “quota silo,” which has shrunk over the life of the Quota. Moreover, we suggest that PLC high levels of compliance may be a defensive strategy seen as necessary in the regulatory/ high sanction context of the Quota. We demonstrate the need for further political and organisational interventions to improve equality reach beyond the quota silo. We also show the value of the equality reach concept for research on equality interventions and warn of the dangers of an intervention leading to an equality silo.

Paper published in Work, Employment and Society.

Seierstad, C., Tatli, A., Aldossari, M. and Huse, M. (2020) Broadening of the field of corporate boards and legitimate capitals: An investigation into the use of gender quotas in corporate boards in Norway. Work, Employment and Society.

Abstract: Drawing on 31 interviews, we explore the life trajectories of some of the women with most directorships in Norway after the introduction of the quota, with specific attention to their capitals. Adopting a Bourdieusian approach, we examine to what extent forced structural changes (the quota), challenge what are valued as legitimate capital(s) in the field (corporate boards). Our research demonstrates the progressive role of the quota in challenging gendered ideas of suitability. We found that structural adjustments in the field are leading to realignment in terms of the field-specific value and meaning of different types of capitals, which are redrawing the boundaries of the field in the process. We conclude that the external push through state imposed regulation has broadened the field, resulting in the recognition of a wider set of capitals as legitimate. The study responds to the much-debated question about the utility of quotas in addressing systemic and historical inequalities.

Paper published in European Management Review.

Mensi-Klarbach, H and Seierstad, C (2020) Gender quotas on corporate boards: similarities and differences of quota scenarios in Europe. European Management Review.

Abstract: In this article, the use of gender quotas to strengthen gender equality on corporate boards is explored. Examining national practices in ten European countries we provide an overview, categorizing the design of various corporate board quotas (CBQs) and the contexts in which they are embedded. In particular, similarities and differences along two dimensions are investigated: the design of the CBQs in terms of their hardness and progressiveness, and the institutional context in which they are embedded. From patterns of design and context configurations, different quota scenarios are discerned. We advance the discussion of female representation and the strategies of corporate boards beyond the rather misleading dichotomy of voluntary targets versus mandatory quotas, proposing a framework for understanding various CBQ designs. Moreover, we suggest that the configuration of design and institutional context, resulting in different quota scenarios affects female representation on corporate boards.

Paper published in MAGMA.

Le Bruyn, E.G. and Seierstad, C. (2020) Kjønnsmessig sammensetning av toppledere i forskjellige styringsformer etter kjønnskvotering i styrer i Norge. MAGMA.

Abstract: Den norske kvoteringsreguleringen som krever 40 % representasjon fra begge kjønn i ASA-styrer er vel kjent nasjonalt og internasjonalt. Det er imidlertid flere norske selskapstyper som er omfattet av tilsvarende regulering, men disse har fått vesentlig mindre fokus. Denne artikkelen har to hovedbidrag. 1. Den gir en oversikt over hvilke foretaksformer og betingelser som er omfattet av kvoteringsregler for kjønnsrepresentasjon og kategoriserer den norske selskapsmassen etter reguleringsregimer og selskapstyper, og 2. Den viser utviklingen i kvinneandel blant styremedlemmer, styreledere, nestledere og daglige ledere i perioden 2006–2019 for disse kategoriene. Resultatene viser at kvoteringsreguleringer fører til endringer, men først og fremst for de posisjonene som er direkte berørt av reguleringen. Status og utvikling på tvers av selskapskategorier og reguleringsregimer viser også at kjønnsbalansen i disse posisjonene er påvirket av andre faktorer enn kvoteringseguleringer. Det er også vanskelig å se at ASA-reguleringen har hatt vesentlige ringvirkningseffekter, noe som ble omtalt som ønskelig i forarbeidene til innføringen av kvoteringsreguleringen.

Started working at the University of South-Eastern Norway as an Associate Professor in Business and Leadership.

Paper published in Gender, Work and Organization.

Healy, G, Tatli, A. Inal, G, Ozturk, M. Seierstad, C and Wrigth, T. (2019). In the steps of Joan Acker: A journey in researching inequality regimes and intersectional inequalities. Gender, Work and Organization. Vol 26 (12)

Abstract: Inspired by two of Acker's interconnected concepts, inequality regimes and intersectionality, the authors revisit their intersectional research. By exploring their various studies on inequality regimes and intersectionality, the authors propose some novel insights that have emerged from an aggregate appraisal of some 17 empirically researched papers, all shaped by Joan Acker's sociology. While Acker's work on gender and organizations has provided crucial insights into much of this work, this article concentrates on the overarching concept of inequality regimes and then focuses in on less developed aspects of intersectionality in Acker's work. In doing so, it reconsiders the value of inequality regimes in pushing the boundaries of intersectional insights.


Two edited books about Women on Corporate Boards in Europe are published. The books are edited with Patricia Gabaldon and Heike Mensi-Klarbach:

Seierstad, C., Gabaldon, P, Mensi-Klarbach, H. (eds.) (2017) Gender Diversity in the Boardroom: European Perspectives on Increasing Female Participation. Vol 1. The use of different quota regulations. Palgrave Macmillan.

Seierstad, C., Gabaldon, P, Mensi-Klarbach, H. (eds.) (2017) Gender Diversity in the Boardroom: European Perspectives on Increasing Female Participation. Vol 2. Multiple Approaches Beyond Quotas. Palgrave Macmillan.

This edited collection provides a structured and in-depth analysis of the current use of quota strategies for resolving the pressing issue of gender inequality, and the lack of female representation on corporate boards. Filling the gap in existing literature on this topic, the two volumes of Gender Diversity in the Boardroom offers systematic overviews of current debates surrounding the optimisation of gender diversity, and the suggested pathways for progress. Focusing on sixteen European countries, the skilled contributors explore the current situation in relation to women on boards debates and approaches taken. They include detailed reflections from critical stakeholders, such as politicians, practitioners and policy-makers. Volume 1 focuses on eight European countries having adopted quotas and is a promising and highly valuable resource for academics, practitioners, policy makers and anyone interested in gender diversity because it examines and critiques the current corporate governance system and national strategies for increasing the share of women not only on boards, but within companies beyond the boardroom. Volume 2 focuses on eight European countries having multiple approaches beyond quotas and is a promising and highly valuable resource for academics, practitioners, policy makers and anyone interested in gender diversity because it examines and critiques the current corporate governance system and national strategies for increasing the share of women not only on boards, but within companies beyond the boardroom.

‘Gender diversity on boards is a fundamental pillar for good corporate governance and has solidly gained momentum in many firms. I recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand different country strategies to promote the presence of women on boards. A must-read in the field!’ ―Ruth Aguilera, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University

‘This useful book critically examines the range of strategies employed by European countries to advance female representation on corporate boards. The contributors comprise highly credible experts at the nexus of diversity and corporate governance research. A must-read for scholars and policy-makers!’ ―Diana Bilimoria, Chair of Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University

Edited book about CSR and Diversity Management. The book is edited with Katrin Hansen:

Hansen, K. and Seierstad, C. (eds.) (2017) Corporate social responsibility and diversity management. Theoretical approaches and best practices. Series Title: CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance. Springer

This book highlights the most critical aspects of diversity and their implications for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), examining them in a collection of conceptual and practical contributions from researchers and practitioners alike. In particular the book discusses good and best practices for diversity management and analyzes possible links between CSR and diversity within organizations. Examples are drawn from a diverse range of organizational settings including corporations, educational institutions and other (non-profit) organizations and in various countries, including Germany, the UK, the USA and India

Winner of “Runner up Best Paper Award 2016” in Corporate Governance: An International Review for the paper ‘Beyond the Business Case: The Need for Both Utility and Justice Rationales for Increasing the Share of Women on Boards

The Harold S. Geneen Institute of Corporate Governance at Bentley University rewards the most relevant and rigorous studies published in the journal with an annual Best Paper and Runner Up Awards every year. Read more on:

Paper published in Journal of Business Ethics .

Seierstad, C., Warner-Søderholm, G., Torchia, M. and Huse, M. (2017) Women on boards: Beyond the institutional setting – the role of stakeholders and actors. Journal of Business Ethics. (Vol 141 (2):289-315.

Abstract: Understanding the spread of national public policies to increase the percentage of women on boards is often presented using different types of institutional theory logic. However, the importance of the political games influencing these decisions has not received the same attention. In this article, we look beyond the institutional setting by focusing on the role of actors. We explore processes that include who the critical actors that drive and determine these policies are, and what motivates them to push for change. We employ a processual design approach using a longitudinal country-comparative case study exploring the case of Norway, England, Germany and Italy. We map the political games, both inside and outside legislative areas, including the micro-politics among various actors and groups of actors in the selected countries. Data are collected through participation observations, interviews and text analyses. The study contributes by filling important gaps in the literature by embedding the discussion about women on boards in politicking and national public policies and by introducing dynamic perspectives. Finally, by using a processual design approach, we capture the reality of the women on board debates at different points of time and in different actor and motivational contexts. The study has consequences for how policy-makers and businesses may follow up and act, based on the debates.Read more on: )


Paper published in Corporate Governance: An International Review.

Seierstad, C. (2016). Beyond the Business Case: The Need for Both Utility and Justice Rationales for Increasing the Share of Women on Boards. Corporate Governance an International Review. Vol 24 (4): 390-405)

Abstract In the context of the recent introduction of gender representation regulations (quotas) for boards in public limited companies (PLCs) in Norway, this article explores how gender quotas designed to increase the share of women in senior positions are rationalized and/or justified by those who benefit, and asks: what arguments do the beneficiaries of quotas tend to use when discussing their usefulness? Drawing on qualitative interview data from 19 female non-executive board members, the article illustrates how women draw on utility, mainly the business case, and individual justice arguments both in support of quotas and to justify their use in helping women attain board positions. Further, it highlights how issues of merit and of gender are entangled with these arguments in often contradictory ways. In so doing, the article challenges and complicates some of the key critiques of gender quotas often found in the public and academic debates. This article advances theory around the intersection of justice and utility arguments in relation to the use of quotas to increase diversity on boards. Moreover, this article provides empirical support by demonstrating how the first wave of women affected by quotas are legitimizing their role on boards in a context in which their role is in question. In addition, this article advances the literature regarding women on boards by demonstrating the need for a discourse about political strategies, such as quotas on boards, that goes beyond the narrow understanding of the business case that has until now dominated public, political, and academic debates. In particular, this article argues for the need to build on both utility and justice logic when making a case for increasing the share of women on boards. With the current focus on how to increase diversity and the share of women on boards, this study highlights the importance of regulation as well as the importance of reframing the debate using utility and justice lines of arguments rationalized by merit arguments. Read more on: )


Paper published in Gender, Work and Organization.

Seierstad, C. and Kirton, G. (2015). Having it all? Senior women and work-life balance in Norway. Gender, Work and Organization. vol 22 (4) 390-404

Abstract: The question if, or how, women can 'have it all' high commitment career, partner and children is regularly debated in popular media internationally. Drawing on qualitative research, this article examines work life balance (WLB) for women in high commitment careers as politicians and non-executive directors on corporate boards in Norway. Norway is lauded as one of the most gender equal countries in the world and in theory at least it is therefore a highly enabling environment for women to combine career and family. The article considers the WLB challenges women politicians and directors encounter and what types of WLB support national, workplace and household level are important for them in order to mitigate the potential strain caused by work family conflict. This article's contribution is in highlighting the competing and sometimes contradictory policies, practices and discourses at multiple levels that surround WLB and the gendered social expectations of women in Norway who apparently 'have it all' Read more on: )

March 2015

Lessons from Norway in getting women onto corporate boards. Article in The Conversation written with Silvija Seres and Morten Huse

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BA-SAMS Small Research Grant ( 10 000) for the project: Women on boards -a compulsory versus a voluntary approach the case of Norway and UK

I was for awarded the BA-SAMS (British Academy and the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies) small research grant. This is a two year grant. This research will investigate how women directors experience the use of political strategies ranging from compulsory to voluntary- to increase the share of women on boards. In particular, this project sets out to investigate how the introduction of gender quotas for corporate boards in Norway and the softer Lord Davies Report with targets for FTSE 100 boards in the UK are experienced by women directors. Building on a comparative case study this project explores the developments taking place in UK and Norway. This research will be genuinely original. Thus far, no one has compared, based on qualitative data, the viewpoints of women directors directly affected by different types of strategies to increase the share of women on boards. This research will be an important contribution to academic literature on women on boards, corporate governance, and the use of strategies to increase diversity. Moreover, the policy implications will be considerable as the debate about how to increase the share of women on board is very much on the agenda both at EU and national levels globally. Read more on: )

December 2013

Getting Women on to Corporate Boards: Consequences of the Norwegian Gender Balance Law

Together with Morten Huse I wrote an article published in the European Financial Review. The article questions what can be done to increase the number of women on boards, and consider the background and consequences of Norwegian gender balance law on corporate boards. (

April 2012

Women's equality in the Scandinavian academy: a distant dream? Published in WES

A paper written with Geraldine Healy, Queen Mary, University of London based on a study about equality in Scandinavian academy was published in the April Issue of Work Employment and Society (Women's equality in the Scandinavian academy: a distant dream(2012) Work, Employment and Society vol.26 no.2 p. 296-313).

March 15, 2011

Goldrocke mit Mehrfachmandaten

An article in the Austrian News ORF mention Tore Opsahl's and my research. (see

February 16, 2011

Taking Stock of Pioneering Law: Have Gender Quotas Really Helped Norwegian Women?

Interviewed for an article in the German newspaper Der Spiegel (see This article was based on Tore Opsahl's and my research.

November, 2010

Women's equality in the Scandinavian academy a distant dream? accepted in Work Employment and Society

Together with Geraldine Healy I have written an article that has been accepted for publication in the journal Work Employment and Society The article investigates women's equality in universities in the three Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, countries where women's share of professorships is below the EU average. It explores the perception of Swedish, Danish and Norwegian women academics with respect to sex equality, hiring and discrimination.

October 19, 2010

Nytt, norsk fenomen: Gullskjortene (New Norwegian Phenomenon: The Golden Skirts)

Interviewed for an article in the national Norwegian finacial newspaper, Dagens Naringsliv (see This article was based on Tore Opsahl's and my research.

October 19, 2010

Vi har fatt en ny kvinne-elite (A new elite of women)

Interviewed for an article in E24/VG. The article in the national Norwegian newspaper E24 (19.10.2010) focused on findings from Tore Opsahl and my research. The article presented our findings that while the law has successfully challenged the under-representation of women on boards of public limited companies, and made the boards more balanced in terms of gender, yet findings show that the maximum number of boards that a single director is part of has doubled from 2002-2009. This has led to the concentration of the benefits associated with prominence to a select few. Moreover, a select group of women have become the most prominent directors. The repeated use of a select few women creates a "Golden Skirts" phenomenon. Since this benefit is only enjoyed by a few directors and associated with a particular gender, the intention of the Norwegian Government in creating a more equal setting can be questioned. On the other hand, this phenomenon can be beneficial in terms of new women role models.