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Number of female directors rockets over the past five years, says study

Tom Newcombe , 17 Dec 2012

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The number of female UK directors has risen to five million compared with 4.3 million in 2007, with the increase in female directors outstripping men: 24% compared to 15%, according to a study published today by credit scoring firm Experian.

The study of over 2.7 million businesses found that although small companies (3-10 employees) are still more likely than large companies (250+ employees) to have female directors, the gap between the two is narrowing.

The study claims that in 2007, 48% of small companies had at least one female director compared to 33% of large companies and in 2012, half of small companies had female directors compared to 40% of large companies.

Although the increase in female directors is positive news for women looking to break the 'glass ceiling', the study found little change over the last five years in the types of profession dominated by males.

Over the five-year period to 2012 there were less all-female boards in 2012 in some typically male-dominated professions such as plumbing, installation of electricity and software publishing.

Max Firth, UK managing director for Experian's business information services division, said: "Smaller companies are clearly the driving force for female directors, but the study shows that larger companies' efforts to increase the number of female directors has made a significant difference over the past five years.

"And let's not forget the contribution made by female entrepreneurs, with many starting up their own companies to manage work/life balance and fit with family commitments, without whom the number of female directors would be considerably lower."

Firth added: "But when it comes to different industry sectors, the data shows that the picture is fairly static."

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Reasons behind the Figures

Rosie Bailey 17 Dec 2012

The figures you describe regardingbthe increase in female directors are very interesting but beware! A big proportion contributing to the increase will be women 'going it alone' and starting a business from scratch. There are many reasons for this - maybe women feel reluctant to join the corporate treadmill where the 'glass ceiling' is very much in evidence or maybe they are frustrated like myself with the intransigence demonstrated by many organisations who still feel that when women have children they are finished! I experienced exactly this so decided to start up my own business - OnTrack International, where I could have the flexible working I needed but still had the opportunity to allow my commercial and business skills to flourish and be in control of my own destiny!

The reasons why...

Anne Doherty 18 Dec 2012

The reasons many women choose to become self employed or directors are varied but isn't it great that we have that choice! Whether we are looking for flexibility, avoiding the corporate rat race or indeed just wanting to be in control of our future we are in a growing group of female directors. We should embrace this by sharing experiences, skills and helping other women to attain the same level of autonomy.

I Agree!!

Rosie Bailey 18 Dec 2012

I totally agree with your comments - we have introduced a number of initiatives to share and pool wisdom the latest of which is launched in January 2013 W.O.T...Women On Track. A great opportunity to be coach and mentored by successful women!

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