Cathrine SeierstadI am originally Norwegian but live in London where I currently work as a lecturer in International Human Resource Management at the School of Business and Management, 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. Currently, my research is focusing on Norway, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Slovenia. 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 and diversity management. I have published widely in journals such as: Work, Employment and Society; Journal of Business Ethics; Corporate Governance: an International Review; Gender, Work and Organizations; Scandinavian Journal of Management, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. and give talks internationally about ‘women on boards’ and ‘women in leadership’. For more information, see the about-page.

Recent activity


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.) (forthcoming) 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.) (forthcoming) 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.