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Women on Boards: A Statistical Review by Country, Supersector and Sector

Government Metrics International, a private consulting group providing corporate governance ratings on a global basis, has published a report providing a statistical review of the the representation of women on the boards of listed companies throughout the world.  Because leaders and regulators in the US, UK, and elsewhere have emphasized diversity in the board room, particularly gender diversity, this paper seeks to benchmark the representation of women on listed company boards, and measure and quantify any increase in gender diversity since the GMI started tracking numbers of women on boards.  

The report examines gender diversity on an absolute basis, by sector, and by supersector. Overall the report notes a modest increase in gender diversity on an absolute basis, but mixed results on a sector and supersector basis.  Sector results were summarized as:

The three sectors with the highest percentage of companies with at least one woman director were Gas, Water & Multiutilities (80%), Food & Drug Retailers (76.4%) and Life Insurance (75.0%). The three sectors with the lowest percentage of companies with at least one woman director were Leisure Goods (32.6%), Alternative Energy (35.7%) and Mining (39.6%).

Sectors with the largest percentage of companies with boards having at least three women directors were Life Insurance (30.1%), Food and Drug Retailers (25.5%) and Tobacco (20.0%). It should be noted that the Tobacco sector represented only 15 companies in the GMI universe in March 2010.

The sector with the next largest percentage of companies having at least three women directors was Personal Goods (19.5%). Sectors with the lowest percentage of companies with boards having at least three women directors were Electronic & Electrical Equipment (0%), Aerospace & Defense (1.9%) and Mining (2.2%).

GMI also examined gender diversity on boards by country.

Countries with the largest percentage of companies with boards comprising at least three women directors were Norway (56.5%), Sweden (38.8%) and South Africa (30.2%). Four countries, which had no companies with at least three women directors, were Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Switzerland.

The full report containing statistical data, as well as a discussion of methodology is available here.