GAO -Strategies to Address Representation of Women Include Federal Disclosure Requirements

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Why GAO Did This Study

Women make up almost half of the nation's workforce, yet research shows that they continue to hold a lower percentage of corporate board seats compared to men. Research highlights advantages to gender diverse boards, and some countries have taken steps to

increase board gender diversity. The SEC requires companies to disclose certain information on board diversity. GAO was asked to review the representation of women on U.S. corporate boards.

 What GAO Found

Representation of women on the boards of U.S. publicly-traded companies has been increasing, but greater gender balance could take many years. In 2014, women comprised about 16 percent of board seats in the S&P 1500, up from 8 percent in 1997. This increase was partly driven by a rise in women’s representation among new board directors. However, even if equal proportions of women and men joined boards each year beginning in 2015, GAO estimated that it could take more than four decades for women’s representation on boards to be on par with that of men’s.

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