Women are well established in professions like medicine, law and banking. They’ve advanced to the top of prominent companies, including General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Pepsico and IBM. Yet a gap remains: corporate boards. Men hold about 80 percent of all S&P 500 board seats and growth in female representation has slowed.
European countries and companies have instituted formal mandates, sometimes backed by fines, to narrow a similar corporate-board gender gap. Then there’s Asia, where women are virtually absent from boards, holding 10.2 percent of seats in a 2016 study of 100 companies.
Legal directives raised female representation on corporate boards in large listed companies in the European Union, to 23.3 percent in 2016 from 11.9 percent in 2010. In the U.S., the pace at which women were added to Fortune 500 boards slowed to about 2 percent yearly after a decade of 5 percent annual growth ended in 2005.