HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation, HKS; Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, HBS


We explore the antecedents of the addition of the first woman to the boards of directors of entrepreneurial ventures. Building on research on resource dependency, we propose that new ventures are most likely to add the first woman to their boards at three developmental moments–board founding, fundraising, and the IPO–as a consequence of shifting alignments of resource control. A critical contingency to changes at the time of these milestones is the presence of resource holders who value the inclusion of women. We draw on an extensive handcrafted dataset on the boards of 2,425 US-based new ventures to test these predictions. Our findings reveal that the first woman is likely to be added at the time of board formation if the founder-CEO is a woman and at the time of fundraising if the venture capital investment firm has a senior female partner.


DeSantola, Alicia, Lakshmi Ramarajan, and Julie Battilana. "New Venture Milestones and the First Female Board Member." Academy of Management Proceedings 2017.1 (2017).