Knowledge Center

The CEO View: Women on Corporate Boards

The opinions of America’s chief executives on critical business issues are always of interest. Catalyst presents the points of view, advice, and predictions of CEOs of the Fortune 500/Service 500 on the topic of female directors.

Impetus: Catalyst identifies and defines the issues surrounding female board members from the CEO perspective and builds upon the information gleaned in the 1993 Catalyst study, Women on Corporate Boards: The Challenge of Change.


  • Catalyst surveyed CEOs of the Fortune 500/Service 500, attaining responses from 325 of them.

  • Conducted in-depth telephone interviews with 22 CEOs.

Findings: A majority of CEOs responding to this survey reported that they want female representation in their board rooms. Catalyst found that this is now a critical agenda item for the chief executive officers of America’s leading corporations. CEOs interviewed by Catalyst argue that recruiting female candidates with business titles below CEO does not mean the board must compromise on the quality of contribution. They stated that the women on their boards offer invaluable insights and expertise. The survey research shows CEOS overwhelmingly agreeing that female directors should have “top-level corporate experience.” The lack of women with this experience was reported as the primary reason for the low representation of women on boards. As the representation of women in senior management increases, CEOs’ personal experiences of women’s leadership potential and actual contributions will become more numerous.

Sponsors: America Online Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Dell, Intel, Morrison & Foerster, Texas Instruments