Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jorge A. Gonzalez

Second Advisor

Sibin Wu

Third Advisor

Jennifer Welbourne


This dissertation empirically examined the effect of board chairperson activism and board chairperson power on board gender diversity, board gender inclusion, and firm performance using a sample of boards of Fortune 500 firms. Board chairperson activism, in this dissertation context, refers to board chairpersons taking actions such as speaking out on, advocating for, or actively supporting gender equality or women leadership in business. Board gender diversity refers to the gender heterogeneity of directors in the boards whereas board gender inclusion refers to the extent to which women directors are given opportunity to participate and contribute to board processes and empowered to assume leadership position within the board. This research’s hypotheses are developed based on resource dependency theory, agency theory, social categorization theory, gender role theory, inclusive leadership theory, workgroup inclusion concept, and literatures on personal values, CEO activism, and CEO power. The empirical results offer evidence that board chairperson activism has positive effect on board gender diversity and board gender inclusion. The results also support and advance the concept of business case for board gender diversity. This dissertation contributes to board gender diversity field of research and practice by shedding light on the role of board chairperson activism as an antecedent to greater gender diversity and inclusion on corporate boards.


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