This academic study examines gender representation on the boards of private companies and public (crown) companies in New Zealand. It found that only 3.9 percent of directors on private boards were female, compared to 19.7 percent on crown company boards. It is theorised this arises from the fact that in New Zealand equal employment opportunity initiatives are only mandatory in the public sector, with appointing agencies and CEOs assuming responsibility for appointing women to boards.
The paper found that the directorships in the public sector were held by a range of different women, with no evidence of an "old girls network". Controversy surrounding the notion of tokenism is discussed, as it relates to the media attention on appointments to the Brierley Investments Ltd board in the 1990s. Interviews were also conducted with four successful female directors, which identify positive approaches women can take on their path to directorship.