Women lag as corporate directors in Md., report says

Advocacy group says gap is closing

April 08, 2010|By Lorraine Mirabella | lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

Women make up a smaller share of board directors at Maryland companies than they do at corporations nationally, although they continue to gain ground as directors in the state, a report out Thursday shows.

The report from Network 2000, a statewide nonprofit advocacy group, shows that women held 9.2 percent of the 772 corporate board seats available at Maryland-based public companies in 2009. Nationally, women held 15.2 percent of board seats, according to the annual census of women on corporate boards.

Ellen Fish, vice president of Network 2000, said the annual census attempts to show how women are faring in "our quest to achieve parity in the boardroom." This year's report, she said, "says women are under-represented on boards, and yet the business case for appointing women on boards is undeniable."

The group contends that boards should reflect the general population as well as a company's customer base and that boards with a gender imbalance miss out on women's "enormous" economic influence and a chance to demonstrate that women are valued at a company's top level.

Despite Maryland's relatively small share of women directors, a trend of women losing their presence on Maryland's corporate boards has been reversing over the last two years, the report shows.

The 9.2 percent of board seats filled by women represents an increase from 8.8 percent in 2008 and from 7.9 percent in 2007, according to the report's findings. And the number of companies with women making up 20 percent or more of board members has almost doubled in recent years, from eight companies in 2007 to 14 companies in 2009.

All of Maryland's Fortune 500 companies have at least one female director.

Of the 92 public companies with headquarters in Maryland, 44 have no female directors, an improvement from the 48 companies in 2008 and 50 in 2007 that had no female directors.

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