Where are the women?

Evidence shows that women are still very much under-represented at board level

There are still a lot of preconceived notions about women in our society, some might still believe the myth that women cannot give the same commitment to their careers that men do, supposedly because women tend to bare children. And this has led to the under-representation of women in the most senior positions of organisations.

A recent Moneyweb article has shown that there are still too few women serving on the boards of JSE-listed. Quoting figures from research organisation Who Owns Whom, the article states that, despite the fact that almost half of the country’s workforce is made up of women, only 19.2% JSE companies’ board positions are held by women. This figure is also only up 2.6% from figures released in 2010 by the Business Women’s Association.

Even though South African women have overtaken men in terms of literacy, educational attainment, average years of education the most senior decision-making structures of the private sector are dominated by their male peers. There is also evidence that suggests companies with a higher representation of women in senior management positions tend to financially outperform those with proportionately fewer women at the top. But there are sill more directorships held by historically disadvantaged black men than there are directorships held by women of all races.

In 2015, the African Development released a report, which stated, among other things, that women hold 12.7% of board directorships (364 out of 2,865) in 307 listed companies based in 12 African countries that were studied. This was 4.6% lower than the 17.3% women’s representation on the boards of the 200 largest companies globally at the time.