Fortune 500 Boards Face Long Road to Gender Equity

A report issued by the Research Organization Catalyst predicts that, if the small annual increase in the number of women sitting on Fortune 500 boards does not grow beyond its current rate, women will not achieve gender equity there until the year 2064.

Of the 6,064 seats on the boards of the United States’ top 500 corporations, women hold only 671. Sheila Wellingon, president of Catalyst, noted that, in 1993, only 69 percent of Fortune 500 company directors were women. Presently, at least one woman director resides in 86 percent of those corporations.

Despite this progress, women executives are frustrated at their male colleagues’ resistance to change. Martha Seger, an economist and board member of Amoco Corp. and Xerox Corp. explained, “These are people they see at the club, they golf with. . .and there’s a comfort level.”

The slow turnover on corporate boards has also been blamed for the lack of opportunities women have to join boards. Additionally, board directors and leaders often seek out candidates who hold impressive titles and positions that many women are not given the opportunity to hold.


AP - October 15, 1998

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