Cathrine SeierstadI currently work as a lecturer in International Human Resource Management at the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London. My research interests fall largely within the fields of leadership, diversity, women on boards, corporate governance and gender. I previously worked as a lecturer in IHRM at the University of Sussex and Brunel Business School (2011-2013). I finished my PhD in June 2011 at Queen Mary College (University of London)'s School of Business and Management where I was part of the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity. For more information, see the about-page.

Recent activity

July 2015

Having It All? Women in High Commitment Careers and Work–Life Balance in Norway. Paper co-authored with Gill Kirton published in Gender, Work, and Organization

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: )

June 2015

Increasing the Number of Women on Boards: The Role of Actors and Processes. Paper co-authored with Gillian Warner-Søderholm, Mariateresa Torchia, and Morten Huse published in Journal of Business Ethics (early view).

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: )

June 2015

Beyond the Business Case: The Need for Both Utility and Justice Rationales for Increasing the Share of Women on Boards. Paper published in CGIR (early view)

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: )

March 2015

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

Read more on:

August 2014

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 from September 2014-August 2016. 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: )

July 2014

RDF Grant from the University of Sussex (£ 8 100) for the project: How to increase the share of women on corporate boards and in senior positions?

June 2014

Gender, Work, and Organization (GWO) Keele, UK

I presented the paper:

Can quotas challenge gender inequality regimes? –The effects of quotas on corporate boards in Norway (co-authored with Geraldine Healy and Morten Huse)

June 2014

European Academy of Management (EURAM), Valencia, Spain

I presented the papers:

'Women on boards: Beyond the institutional setting – the role of stakeholders and actors' (co-authored with Cathrine Seierstad, Mariateresa Torchia, Morten Huse, Gillian Warner-Søderholm, Lena Willems)

'Having it all? Women in high commitment careers and work-life balance in Norway' (co-authored with Gill Kirton)

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. (

August 2013

New Job at University of Sussex

On August 1st I took up a position as a Lecturer in International Human Resource Management at the School of Business, Management and Economics, University of Sussex.

June 2013

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Athens, Greece

I presented the paper Changes in board composition following gender quotas on corporate boards in Norway: The ‘Golden Skirts’. The paper is written together with Professor Morten Huse

March 2013


I participated and gave a talk at the Women on Board International Research Cruise Workshop 16-19 march 2013. The conference is organised by Morten Huse, BI Norway and Witten/Herdecke University Germany.

October 2012

FESTA Female Empowerment in Science and Technology, Trento, Italy

I gave a talk: •Inequality in Scandinavian academia – challenges and strategies, in Trento, Italy at the FESTA conference ( .

August 2012

The American Academy of Management (AOM), Boston, US

Presetned the paper: Why Norwegian women directors supports gender quotas on corporate boards –The dual entanglement of affirmative action and merit and the American Academy of Management, Boston, US.

July 2012

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Toulouse, France

I presented the paper: The wider effects of affirmative action strategies in Norway: the case of politics, academia and corporate boards of directors, at the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Conference, Toulouse, France.

July 7th 2012

Management and Diversity in the Scandinavian Countries, a talk at the Université Paris-Dauphine

I gave a talk at the Université Paris-Dauphine in the conference series : Management et diversité : comparaisons internationales, Université Paris-Dauphine.

June 2012

European Academy of Management (EURAM), Rotterdam

I presented a paper called Can Quotas Challenge Gender Inequality Regimes? -The Effects Of Quotas On Corporate Boards In Norway in the track Women on Boards at the European Academy of Management conference held in Rotterdam 2012.

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).

February, 26-28, 2012

Women on Board Cruise Workshop, organised by BI Norwegian Business School

I was invited to participate at the Women on Board workshop. I gave a presentation with the title; An Imperfect Strategy in an Imperfect World -Gender Quotas on Corporate Boards in Norway .

January, 2012

Norefjell IX Board Governance workshop

I participated at the Board Governance Workshop organised by Morten Huse, BI Oslo, Norway. I gave a presentation with the title; Gender quotas on corporate boards -Lessons from Norway.

October, 14,2011

Presentation for BG Group Women's Network

Together with Silvija Seres i gave a talk for BG Group Women's Network, UK. The title of the talk was; Do Gender Quotas on Boards Work? – the view from Norway.

September, 13,2011

Presentation for NORA (Norwegian women in London society)

I gave a presentation to NORA, a society for Norwegian women in London. The title of the talk was; Gender and leadership.

Semptember 12,2011

New job at Brunel Business School

I was offered a job as a Lecturer in HRM at Brunel Business School, Brunel University and started in September.

June 7, 2011


I successfully defended my PhD 'Exploring the Norwegian paradox of vertical sex segregation: Strategies and experiences in politics, academia and company boards' (link).

June 3, 2011

Gender Quotas On Corporate Boards -Lessons from Norway. Conference presentation EURAM

I presented a paper at EURAM (European Academy of Management),Tallin, Estonia in the track 'Gender equality and diversity in management, General Track.
March 30, 2011

Promoting Equality and Diverstity Through Economic Crisis (PEDEC)

Panel speaker at the event Advancing Fair Representation in Public and Private Institutions in the Economic Downturn, PEDEC Queen Mary University 2011.

March 15, 2011

Goldröcke“ 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: Gullskjørtene (New Norwegian Phenomenon: The Golden Skirts)

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

October 19, 2010

Vi har fått 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.

September 24, 2010

For the few not the many? The effects of affirmative action on presence, prominence, and social capital of female directors in Norway

Together with a colleague, Tore Opsahl, I have recently conducted research on the effects of the gen