Women Remain Underrepresented On Company Boards

December 4, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A survey conducted by Catalyst found that an increasing number of the 500 largest U.S. companies have appointed women as board directors over the past nine years but noted that progress has slowed since 1997.

From 1997 to the present companies with female board members rose only 3.6%, compared with a 21.4% jump between 1993 and 1997, the survey by the non-profit group found.

Overall, the number of Fortune 500 companies with female board members has risen 25.8% since Catalyst conducted its first survey in 1993. Additionally, the survey found that women held 12.4% of the more than 5,900 board seats at Fortune 500 companies as of March 2001.

The number of Fortune 500 companies that have female directors rose by four in 2001, to 434.
Companies with large numbers of female board members ranged from beauty products giant Avon Products Inc., where 60% of the directors are women, to diversified manufacturer Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., where women fill 27.3% of the board.
However, less than 10% of all Fortune 500 companies have three or more female board directors. The total number slid to 48 from 53 in 2000.

The survey also found that smaller companies have not been as aggressive in adding women to their boards. In fact, in a survey of the Fortune 1000 biggest U.S. companies, Catalyst found that smaller firms lag far behind on board representation by women.