Increasing the Role of Women in Corporate Boardrooms

In January 2016 Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) unveiled a new report from the Government Accountability Office, which shows women are severely underrepresented on corporate boards, taking up just 16 percent of seats in the boardroom. The study, which Maloney requested in May 2014, shows that even if the rate of women joining corporate boards were doubled, so they were hired at the same rate as men, it would still take at least 40 years (2056) for women to reach parity.

Even if we doubled the rate at which women are hired to corporate boards, we still wouldn’t reach equality until 2056. That means a girl born today will still face the same disparities in the boardroom that her mother and grandmother faced. At a minimum the SEC should update its deeply flawed diversity disclosure requirements, so that corporations have to report gender diversity. The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report for 2015 shows the United States dropped eight places from 20th to 28th, and today’s GAO report provides yet another example of just how large the gap has grown. We lag far behind many other industrialized countries that have taken proactive steps to improve diversity.

In response, Maloney is crafting legislation and urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to update existing diversity disclosure requirements, which do not even require the number of women serving on corporate boards to be reported. In the coming weeks, Maloney will introduce new legislation modeled on policies in Canada and Australia which would instruct the SEC to recommend strategies for increasing women’s representation on corporate boards, and require companies to report their policies to encourage the nomination of women for board seats as well as the proportion of women on their board and in senior executive leadership.

Key Findings of the report:

  • In 2014, women comprised about 16 percent of board seats in the S&P 1500, up from 8 percent in 1997
  • Even if equal proportions of women and men joined boards each year beginning in 2015, it could take more than four decades for women’s representation on boards to be on par with that of men’s.
  • Even if every future board vacancy were filled by a woman, we estimated that it would take until 2024 for women to approach parity with men in the boardroom.
  • GAO identified various factors that may hinder women’s increased representation among board directors. These include boards not prioritizing recruiting diverse candidates; few women in the traditional pipeline to board service—with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or board experience; and low turnover of board seats
  • Most stakeholders interviewed (15 of 19) supported improving Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure requirements on board diversity.
  • The United States lags behind other industrialized nations, including Australia, Canada, The United Kingdom, Germany and Norway, where serious, concerted efforts have been made to address discrimination against women in the board room.

    In the coming weeks, Maloney will propose new legislation modeled on policies in Canada and Australia, which would instruct the SEC to recommend strategies for increasing women’s representation on corporate boards, and require companies to comply with those recommendations or explain why they have not.

    View the full report here.

    View Maloney’s letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission here 

More on Increasing the Role of Women in Corporate Boardrooms

Jun 16, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, today spoke on the House floor urging all her colleagues to support H.R.1187, the Corporate Governance Improvement and Investor Protection Act, which includes an amendment offered by Reps. Gregory  W. Meeks (NY-05), Maloney, and Ritchie Torres (NY-15), the Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act. The bill passed by a vote of 215 to 214.


Jun 14, 2019 Press Release
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets, on Thursday introduced the Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act of 2019, to ensure that investors and the public have the information they need about the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of corporate boards.
Aug 29, 2018 Press Release

NEW YORK— Today, two days after the nation marked the 98th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) rang the Closing Bell at NYSE in honor of Women’s Equality Day and released a new report, “Earn Less, Pay More: The State of the Gender Pay Gap and’ Pink Tax’ in 2018,” documenting the state of economic inequality women still face today.

Apr 20, 2018 Press Release

NEW YORK—On Friday, April 20th, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement in reaction to the news that the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue will move to a new location in front of the New York Stock Exchange:

Oct 24, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), author of the Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act, joined Congressman Don Beyer (VA-8) today to host experts on the path to gender parity in corporate leadership for a hearing today. Gender diversity experts from Catalyst, the 30 Percent Club, Northrop Grumman, and Paradigm for Parity testified on the critical need to increase gender diversity in America’s corporate boardrooms.

Jun 19, 2017 In The News

To the Editor:

Women Interrupted” (Business Day, June 15) sheds important light on a phenomenon women know all too well.

As a member of Congress, I often need to ask, “Where are the women?” Whether it is a hearing on contraception or meetings about health care, women are too often left out and as a result left behind.

Jun 5, 2017 Press Release

New York, New York — Nearly one hundred years after women picketed the White House demanding the right to vote, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) today joined Teressa Shook, whose Facebook post launched the Million Women March, Joan Wages, the president and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum and other leading advocates for women's rights to call for new actions to advance equality for women. The leaders called on Congress to pass H.R. 19, a bill authored by Rep.

May 30, 2017 Press Release

WASHINGTON—Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (VA-08) today sent a letter to newly-confirmed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Jay Clayton urging him to take action on women’s under-representation on America’s corporate boards.

Mar 27, 2017 Press Release

NEW YORK-Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) was joined today by women leaders from across the city to celebrate news that the already iconic statue has been accepted into the Department of Transportation Art program and will remain in place on Wall Street through February 2018. Earlier this month Rep. Maloney sent letters both to Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg requesting that Fearless Girl be accepted into the program.

Mar 18, 2017 Press Release

NEW YORK—Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney was joined by women leaders from across the city to call on New York City to permit the statue to remain permanently in place on Wall Street. Maloney also announced the reintroduction of her Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act to help get more women on corporate boards.