Women In Technology’s The Leadership Foundry and American University Annual Study on Women Serving on Corporate Boards Shows Slow Growth for DC Region

Up to 14% from 12.8% in 2015, percentage of women serving on local
boards remains behind national average

FALLS CHURCH, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Women in Technology (WIT), the premier organization contributing to the
success of professional women in the technology community in the
Washington, DC area, along with Kogod School of Business at American
University today announced the results of WIT’s The Leadership Foundry
annual research report examining the representation of women on
corporate boards. The results show a slow increase in the number of
women serving on DC regional corporate boards yet are behind the
national average. The research was released today at The Leadership
Foundry annual luncheon.

The report “Advancing Women to the Corporate Boardroom,” was conducted
by Kogod School of Business at American University, and provides
in-depth analysis of women board members from 204 publicly traded
companies headquartered in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. The
findings showcase a slow uptick in women serving on corporate boards,
growing from 12.8% in 2015 to 14% in 2016, but few companies achieved
the “critical mass” (three or more women on the board) inclusion that
would allow them to truly benefit from board member diversity. Studies
have consistently shown that having women on corporate boards is a smart
business decision, with such organizations seeing higher return on
equity, higher price/book value and higher payout ratio when three or
more women are on the board.

Specific results of the 2016 research include:

  • 14% of the 1,813 corporate board seats in the Washington, DC area are
    held by women, compared to a Fortune 1000 average of just over 19%.
  • The percent of the 204 public companies that have reached a critical
    mass (3 or more) of women serving on their board is essentially
    unchanged from 2015 (12%).

Adding women to board seats in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC is
slowly taking place, with the trend line moving in the right direction.
Although 25% of MD/VA/DC public companies (51 out of 204) are still
without any female representation, the number of companies with no women
has fallen from 31% in 2015.

“As much as we’d like to say the Washington region is leading the way in
the number of women appointed to public corporation boards, and even
with the numbers increasing slightly this year, we have a long way to
go,” said Marguerete Luter, Chair of WIT’s The Leadership Foundry, which
concentrates on identifying and preparing women for corporate board
opportunities. “Research continues to show a positive correlation
between women serving on corporate boards and the financial performance
of the corporations when there is a critical mass of three or more
women, so public companies in the DC region should be proactively
seeking qualified women to join their ranks.”

Regional Comparisons on Legislation and Regulatory Environment

WIT and the American University team are also beginning an examination
of areas on par with the MD/VA/DC region for additional influences
impacting the rate at which women are added to corporate boards. From
legislation to public pressure and advocacy, along with the diversity of
industries and company sizes within regions, there are many legal,
cultural and economic factors that may influence individual states’
progress in corporate board gender diversity. This year the research
team considered how the Greater DC region fared compared to four
distinct states: Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio and California; each
state combines advocacy, legislation and industry to bolster board
gender diversity.

“All of our research is aimed at uncovering opportunities for women
aspiring to corporate board service while spurring companies to
proactively seek female directors,” said Jill Klein, Assistant Dean for
Digital Initiatives at the Kogod School of Business at American
University. “From information technology executives to cybersecurity to
finance specialists, women bring subject matter expertise coupled with a
different lens for assessing risk and opportunity.”

Since WIT began collaborating with Kogod School of Business in 2010, it
has consistently focused on increasing the number of women serving on
corporate boards in the Washington, DC region. As part of this mission,
WIT created The
Leadership Foundry
to prepare women leaders to serve on corporate
boards. Through The Leadership Foundry, senior women executives have the
opportunity to be a part of a program that provides intensive board
training sessions, access to the knowledge of a steering committee of
industry leaders with extensive board experience as well as educational
and networking events.

Click HERE
for a copy of the 2016 report and for more information about The
Leadership Foundry. The 2016 research was conducted by graduate students
Betsy Henderson (MA International Relations), Heather Randall (MBA) and
Maria Wallace (MS Analytics) at Kogod School of Business at American
University under the guidance of faculty research sponsor Jill Klein and
WIT project director Lori DeLorenzo. All companies included in this
report are listed on the major stock exchanges (NYSE and NASDAQ).

For more information about The Leadership Foundry, visit www.theleadershipfoundry.org.

About Women in Technology

Women in Technology (WIT) has the mission of advancing women in
technology—from the classroom to the boardroom—by providing advocacy,
leadership development, networking, mentoring and technology education
for nearly 1000 members in the Washington, DC area. For more
information, please visit,
or connect with us via:


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