Appointment of directors in South Africa: an administrative data perspective


In South Africa, only 31.6% of management positions were held by women in 2021 (Statistics South Africa, 2021). For women to have a meaningful say in decision-making on corporate boards, it is crucial to achieve a critical mass of at least three women on the board of directors, which translates to 30-40% of the corporate board. Problematically, the percentage of boards with a critical mass declined from 35.9% in 2015 to 25.6% in 2017. Our study will use the South African Revenue Service administrative tax data for 2015-2021. Our research aims to address two key questions: firstly, at the firm-level using a panel duration model, we identify the factors that influence whether a corporate board meets the critical number of women. From this, we identify the industries which have a declining trend of corporate boards meeting the critical mass of women. Within these industries, our second research question determines the factors which relate to the likelihood of appointing an individual to a corporate board, especially women. We will build on this analysis using an Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition to quantify the underlying socioeconomic factors that induce gender differences in the likelihood of appointing an individual as a director. Understanding these factors is essential to identifying the barriers that hinder women’s progression into top management positions. Encouraging greater representation of women on corporate boards can promote a more equitable distribution of men and women in general management roles within companies.


Eleni Yitbarek, Nicky Nicholls, Matthew Clance, Michelle Pleace (University of Pretoria)