Outstanding in Their Field
How Women Corporate Directors Succeed
by Elizabeth Ghaffari
June 2009, 247pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-37584-2
$55, £43, 48€, A76
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
Paperback: 978-1-4408-3630-5
$35, £27, 31€, A48
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eBook Available: 978-0-313-37585-9
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Women still make up only 16 percent of large-company corporate boards and 45 of the Fortune 500 still have no female board members. Ironically, corporations know they have a problem recruiting outstanding female board members. They maintain that, despite women’s enormous strides in the business world, qualified women remain difficult to find.

In a book businesswomen can rally around and use as a manual, an expert in female board representation shows what it takes to get nominated to a corporate board and become a productive and respected member.

This book blazes a trail. Rather than focusing on lack of opportunity or loudly calling for the appointment of more women to boards, it simply shows women what they can do to get on boards. In its pages, businesswomen will gain refreshing insights into the many opportunities that exist for them to rise to leadership.

The result of two years’ research and interviews, the book identifies specific steps a woman can take to become qualified and competent to serve at the very top—as a director on a for-profit corporate board. Arguing that women need to “learn from the leaders, ” the author lets 15 female directors tell the truth about how to find a seat at the table. Each story is different; no one path or decision worked for every woman. Their advice closes each chapter, providing encouragement and perspective from over three decades of practical experience with public company boards.


  • 15 profiles of prominent businesswoman personalize the attributes it takes to succeed as a corporate director
  • 9 illustrations
Elizabeth Ghaffari is president and CEO of Technology Place Inc., Santa Monica, CA, a technology advisory firm. Her Surveys of Women on Boards of Directors at California-Based Fortune 1000 Firms provided the biographical and research foundation for Outstanding in Their Field. Ms. Ghaffari is the author of articles appearing in The Corporate Board and Personal Wealth Journal.


"This volume outlines the steps women can take to become qualified and competent directors on for-profit or corporate boards. Ghaffari describes the six most prominent paths to success and women directors who followed them through nonprofit, academic, government, corporate, investment, and entrepreneurship fields. Fifteen women from California Fortune 1000 firms (as of 2006-2007) are profiled. The profiles include discussion about their decisions, lessons learned, and various positions. Ghaffari is associated with a technology advisory firm. Her Surveys of Women on Boards of Directors at California-Based Fortune 1000 Firms provided the biographical and research foundation for the volume."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2009

"Each chapter closes with one woman's advice, providing encouragement and perspective from over three decades of practical experience with public company boards."—Washington State Bar Association, October 1, 2009

"Elizabeth has given us a roadmap to the Boardroom."—Women Executive Leadership, October 1, 2009

"This important work comes at a time in history when the unique leadership gifts women bring to the governance table are more critical than ever before. Well-researched and abundant with thought-provoking information, Outstanding in Their Field is a must-read for women and men charged with ensuring ethical oversight."—Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.
Author, See Jane Lead

"Outstanding in their Field provides a refreshing look at the issue of women on corporate boards. The stories of women who have moved into corporate boardrooms and the analysis of lessons learned from a variety of women and a variety of routes taken to the destination make it 'real life' rather than a theoretical exercise. The overriding theme, that the issue of women on boards comes down to a question of whether women are ready and willing to lead and govern in the corporate marketplace gives a tough love flavour to the book."—Courtney Pratt, Chairman, Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions

"This important study opens windows wide to the current reality of women's leadership journey to the Corporate Board Room. Ghaffari offers a thorough analysis of the combined successful experiences across broad business and not-for-profit sectors and confirms the value-add that women bring to these Board roles."—Marina Heidman, PhD
Executive Coach, Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions, Toronto, Canada

"Women hold up half the sky, according to the Chinese proverb. Read this book to learn how women board members shine the sun on growth opportunities and improve financial results for the best companies.' "—Blythe McGarvie
Board member and author of Shaking the Globe, Courageous Decision-Making in a Changing World.
Chief Executive Officer - LIF Group

"What a ground-breaking, inspirational and important book! Elizabeth Ghaffari has done an extraordinary job researching, interviewing and drawing insights from successful women serving on corporate boards. The many leadership lessons found in Outstanding in their Field apply to both men and women in all fields of work. I highly recommend this book."—Dr. Susan A. Murphy
Corporate Consultant, Speaker, and Author of Maximizing Performance Management and In the Company of Women (with Dr. Pat Heim)
Business Consultants Group, Inc.

"Through her new book, Elizabeth Ghaffari shows us that a C-Suite role is no longer the ultimate corporation dream for women. With early planning and increasing role mentors, women can proactively manage their careers to include the B-Suite. Let the dream continue."—Jacqueline Orange, Corporate Director and former CEO of Canada Investment and Savings

"Elizabeth Ghaffari brings inspiration to her research and to the lessons learned by outstanding women corporate directors. The women directors whom she interviewed have brought tremendous experience and courage to their roles. Because of their work and prominence, there are and will continue to be more and more women serving on boards. Elizabeth's insightful interview and research style helps us understand the inner workings of a board and why diversity of thought and spirit in the board room are crucial to the performance of the company, and ultimately, driving shareholder value."—Marilyn Alexander
President, Alexander & Friedman, LLC

"Like myself, many women who serve on corporate boards are often asked if there is a specific path to board service. My response is generally that 'there is not a single, simple path'. Ghaffari’s book demonstrates that accomplished women come from many disciplines and a variety of backgrounds. It is a good read for women considering a future in board service as well as those who gain inspiration from the success of others."—Bonnie Hill
President, B. Hill Enterprises, LLC

"Outstanding in their Field is a very timely and important in-depth look at the paths successful women executives have taken to the boardroom of public companies and the lessons they learned along the way. At a time when public companies are undergoing significant transition in governance as well as in management, Elizabeth Ghaffari’s research provides excellent advice for women considering public company directorship positions. I highly recommend the book!' "—Donald R. McCrea, Ph.D.
President, Bus-Ed Partners, Inc.
Former Director of Custom Executive Education, UCLA Anderson School of Management
Former Director of Executive Education, University of California, Irvine

"The role of women on boards has been underrated and a missed opportunity for too long. Congratulations to Elizabeth for so vividly demonstrating the capacity and value women bring to the boardroom. Let's hope this helps to move women into the boardroom more rapidly, so that one woman director is no longer the token norm on a board. Let's hope we can embrace and leverage this powerful resource that is women."—Susan F. Shultz
Board Practice Leader, Morgan Samuels Executive Search
CEO, The Board Institute

"Different experiences and diverse perspectives matter. In her book, Outstanding in Their Field, Ghaffari shows how women came to be directors in today’s tough governance environment, how they are valued, how they regard shareholder interests, and how they assess risks from a personal and professional perspective. The women Ghaffari describes are role models for other women who would lead, and also for corporate boards that want to add talent to their director rosters. Ghaffari suggests that 'learning to play by the rules of the game' is necessary --- but not sufficient. It's also important to change the rules of the game so that the different perspectives women bring are valued.' "—Dr. Judy B. Rosener
Professor Emerita, The Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine

"It is a long-needed and overdue book about the importance to American business to recognize outstanding corporate women directors."—Shirley M. Hufstedler Senior of Counsel, Morrison & Foerster, LLP
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