Awareness of the importance of gender diversity on company boards has improved over the past few years but a third of women directors in Ireland still believe a glass ceiling exists, according to a new study.
Some 57 per cent of the 196 women members of the Institute of Directors in Ireland interviewed for the survey said they don’t have the same access to men when it comes to available board positions. Respondents cited a number of barriers, including interlocking directorships, better contacts and stronger networks for men.
Of the women surveyed, half said that gender diversity is a medium or high priority for their board, up 13 per cent, while 91 per cent said they felt equal in the boardroom.
The study finds that women are increasingly unwilling to put themselves forward for board positions with 62 per cent saying they were more reluctant than men to do so, compared to 43 per cent in a previous survey carried out in 2013.
In addition, 76 per cent of respondents stated it was more difficult for women to become non-executive directors than men.
Overall, 82 per cent of women surveyed said they believed that awareness of the importance of gender diversity on boards in Ireland had increased in recent years, while a majority, 58 per cent, were of the view that gender diversity on boards was improving generally.
The survey reveals a 4 per cent decrease in the number of women who feel a glass ceiling exists.
Four in five respondents said women themselves need to take some responsibility for the low level of women on boards in Ireland, arguing that women need to be more proactive in their approach to securing directorships.
Fifty-nine per cent of respondents reported that women account for between 11 and 40 per cent of directors on their board.
By Charlie Taylor