We examine the presence of women in Italian corporate boards before the introduction of Law 120/2012. We consider all directors of publicly-traded firms in 2008-10 and investigate the potential determinants of having boards with gender-diverse representation and the correlation between female directorship and selected governance measures. Two different models emerge. In the majority of diverse boards at least one of the women has a family connection with the controlling shareholder: family-affiliated women are more frequently found in smaller companies, firms with a concentrated ownership, businesses that operate in the consumer sector and those with larger boards. By contrast, unaffiliated women are more common in widely held companies, companies with younger and more highly educated boards, those with a higher proportion of independent directors and those with fewer "connected" directors. With reference to governance-related outcomes, the number of board meetings is positively correlated with the presence of women on boards, while no difference is found between female and male directors in board meeting attendance.