What is it about women, or is it all the fault of grey, older men? Why is there a glass ceiling for women's progress to company boardrooms?
To what extent does it harm the interests of Britain's companies?
Just some of the questions I've been pondering in light of the Davies Report into boardroom diversity, or lack of it.
It's not the first time anyone's noted the problem, but the latest figures show previous efforts to change it have fallen woefully short.
Only one in eight FTSE 100 directors is female, and nearly half of FTSE 250 companies have no women at all on the board.
By men, for men
For 'Business Scotland' this week (which can be found on iplayer and via podcast) I've been hearing from two of those most closely involved in challenging that male dominance.
One is a co-author of the Davies Report, Professor Sue Vinnicombe. She observes that organisations were designed "by men, for men".
That helps explain why a high-octane workaholism is respected at the top, although she argues that more flexible work patterns can deliver positive results for everyone.
It's just that it's rarely tried at the most senior levels.
Perhaps it's also to do with top executive pay. If that were moderated, it might put less pressure on the pay-cheque recipients to burn themselves out in pursuit of often short-term results.
Also contributing to the discussion was Debbie Atkins of Tods Murray legal partnership in Edinburgh, and a founder of a women in business network.
She is one of those to share the Davies Report conclusion against Norwegian-style quotas for boardrooms.
In Oslo, they legislated for at least 40% of posts to go to females.
The Davies Report suggests instead that boards should be pressured this year to set targets for increasing women's representation, leading to at least a quarter by 2015.
If that doesn't make the difference, the threat of legislated quotas hangs in the air.
Incidentally, it's worth noting that survey evidence of women finds they support the idea of quotas, but it's rather more difficult to find individuals who will speak up for them.
It's probable that those who are in senior posts don't want to be stigmatised as being there to fill quotas.
Nor is Debbie Atkins in favour of positive discrimination, meaning a requirement on employers to help fast-track women returning from child-rearing career breaks.
Instead, she talks of "positive action", encouraging employers to see the potential that such women have.
"People who have taken a career break could be much more valuable than someone who maybe traditionally has worked in one pattern in one firm for many years," she says.
What, then, of positive action for others who are under-represented in company boardrooms?
What of racial diversity, particularly for companies seeking to understand other races in target export markets?
What about younger people - perhaps those with an intuitive feel for modern consumer markets and technology?
And what about employee representation, which is common in continental Europe, but only a minority interest in Britain?
Sue Vinnicombe says: "The fundamental problem is the lack of women at the top. Once companies have championed gender diversity, the evidence seems to be that questions of other diversity will sort themselves out". Discuss.
Hungry for assets
On the programme this week, I was discussing Centrica's offshore oil and gas operations since its hostile takeover of Aberdeen's Venture Production in 2009, with its managing director Jonathan Roger.
On Thursday, he announced profits up by nearly a third to £581m, in the first full year since the merger with Centrica's previous offshore operations.
This was also a year in which the company bought Suncor, one of Trinidad's big producers of liquid natural gas.
Unfortunately, he was not being drawn on the prospects for buying around $1bn of BP assets in the North Sea, placed on the market this week.
But the older fields, many of them gas and in the southern sector, look to this untrained eye like a perfect fit for asset-hungry Centrica.
Let us know what you think.
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