Gender diversity on Malaysian corporate boards: a law and social movements perspective

Vivien Chen, Michelle Welsh, May Fong Cheong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article is a unique investigation of the interaction between sociocultural perceptions of women in Malaysia and reforms implemented in that jurisdiction to promote gender diversity on corporate boards. It adopts a law and social movements perspective to better understand the legal reforms that have emerged, often amid fraught interactions between the state and women's rights activists due to their conflicting conceptions of gender roles. The article draws on empirical data to shed light on the practical workings of the reforms, ascertaining the perspective of insiders through interviews and examining the composition of the boards of 30 of the largest listed companies. While an increase in the representation of women on corporate boards suggests that the reforms have facilitated progress towards gender equality, such progress must be viewed in the context of prevalent conservative perceptions of gender roles, and sustained state resistance against women's rights activists, which together impede progress towards substantive equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-47
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

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