‘The number of women on the boards of companies has almost doubled in the past four years,’ ran the first line of a story that caught my eye as I skimmed the Metro this morning on my way into work.
Fantastic! I thought. Brilliant news. Hashtag ELLE feminism!
Image: Martha Lane Fox, who is on the board of Marks & Spencer.
It continued: ‘Just 17 more need to be appointed to FTSE-100 company boards to meet the target of 25% for this year.’
Wait! I thought. Surely that can’t be right?
But it is. Women now account for 23.5% of FTSE 100 board members, up from 12.5% in 2011. Apparently, it’s an ‘outstanding achievement’ (business secretary Vince Cable’s words, not mine).
Of course, more women on boards can only be a good thing: that, I’m not disputing. But isn’t it a pretty sorry state of affairs if, in 2015, it’s positive news that men make up ‘only’ more then three-quarters of those boards in total? Why are we happy about this? Why is the target for 2015 a paltry 25% - and the fact that we’re not even there yet spun to us as good news?
‘The evidence is irrefutable – boards with a healthy female representation outperform their male-dominated rivals,’ Cable went on to say.
So I ask again – why are we celebrating the fact that this is still not the case in over 75% of the country’s most prominent businesses?
I don't have an answer. But this is proof, if ever proof was needed, that pushing on to keep gender equality on the political agenda is more important than ever. Don’t let the momentum drop. Keep up with our #ELLEfeminism campaign here and tweet us your thoughts @ELLE #ELLEfeminism.