An influential body of work has identified a ‘welfare-state paradox’: work-family policies that bring women into the workforce also undermine women’s access to the top jobs. Missing from this literature is a consideration of how welfare-state interventions impact on women’s representation at the board-level specifically, rather than managerial and lucrative positions more generally. This article contributes to addressing this ‘gap’. A fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis of 22 industrialised countries reveals how welfare-state interventions combine with gender boardroom quotas and targets in (not) bringing a ‘critical mass’ of women onto private-sector corporate boards. Overall, the analysis finds limited evidence in support of a welfare-state paradox. Moreover, widespread childcare services are associated with a greater share of women on boards. The results further suggest that ‘hard’, mandatory gender boardroom quotas are not necessary for achieving more women on boards; ‘soft’, voluntary recommendations can work too, but only under certain family policy constellations.