May 21, 2019

Nichols College report finds slow progress on women in leadership

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Nichols College in Dudley

A new biennial report from researchers at Nichols College in Dudley found incremental progress in the rate of women in Massachusetts rising to leadership roles in business and the Legislature.

Women remain vastly outnumbered by men in corporate executive officer positions, where they make up 13.4% of such roles, and on corporate boards, where they hold 21% percent of seats, the Institute for Women's Leadership found in its Massachusetts Women's Leadership Index, which was released Tuesday.

Even worse, only 4% of CEOs of the state's largest public companies are women.

Jean Beaupre, a faculty advisor to the Institute for Women's Leadership, called progress minimal since the last report two years ago. But she said she found it promising that women are slowly gaining greater shares of corporate board seats and congressional seats.

"If we believe that having more women in leadership is beneficial," Beaupre said, "then it is in our collective best interests to do what we can to help keep the needle moving."

Nichols researchers compiled the rate of women in corporate leadership, nonprofit leadership and public leadership, which included the state Legislature, mayors, police chiefs and school superintendents. In none of those areas did women make up greater than 38% of seats, with the greatest percentages among superintendents and nonprofit board seats.

The state's success in approaching gender diversity in leadership positions was not substantially different than national averages. The Nichols report found women make 83 cents for every dollar a man earns, compared to 80 cents nationally.

The results over all are consistent with a Worcester Business Journal report from February showing women made up 35% of director and executive positions at 75 Central Massachusetts public and private companies, colleges, hospitals, financial institutions and social service nonprofits.

That was a slight increase over a 33% mark a year prior.

The WBJ found the lowest ranks of women in CEO positions, where 12 of the 75 institutions were led by a woman, with only one of those at a public company.

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