Disappointment is the word recently used by a commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission about the percentage of corporate directors at big U.S. public companies who are women.
The figure cited by SEC Commissioner Elisse B. Walter in a Feb. 10 speech was 15.7%. That’s the percentage of board seats held by women at Fortune 500 companies, according to the 2010 Catalyst Census.
Here is the fuller quote from Walter, who fills one of the Democratic seats of the five-person commission:
“I think it’s fair to say that there are significant challenges for those who want to see true gender diversity in corporate governance,” Walter said in the text of a speech to the DirectWomen Board Institute. “While I will not offer up a personal analysis as to why women are underrepresented on corporate boards – I’ll leave that to the experts – I can tell you that my initial reaction to the statistics is disappointment.”
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on October 24, 2009
, Work/Life Balance
Have a look at journalist Joanne Lipman’s piece about women and the workplace; it’s in today’s NYT. Joanne, a former WSJ colleague went on to found Portfolio magazine for Conde Nast, makes the argument that women’s progress up Corporate America’s hierarchy has stalled out (and slid backward) as attitudes toward women have coarsened. She calls for a new era of respect for women, and urges us to instill in our daughters the confidence to become much more than the “good girls” society expects us to be. My favorite line: “I am still one of the few women to have run a major business magazine. My career was recently summed up in a New York magazine article as leggy.” She also observes that during her years as a manager she never had a female employee ask for a promotion; this should resonate with anyone who has ever been a manager. It’s a good piece and isn’t too far from the point I recently made about women’s attitudes toward careers. I like the way Joanne posits that women essentially have a different “culture” from men; I’ve never thought of gender difference as being cultural but I can see how it would be useful to view it as such. I’d be interested in your thoughts.
Here’s a politically incorrect comment about women in the workplace which I think has some merit and is certainly eye-catching. Nichola Pease, a U.K.-based fund manager, told members of Parliament that it can be “a nightmare” to hire and retain women. “A year maternity leave is too long, and sex discrimination claims that run into 10s of millions of pounds are ridiculous,” she said last week. She also said pay discrepancies sometimes reflect a woman’s choices rather than outright gender discrimination. Wondering what you think…