Re:Gender works to end gender inequity by exposing root causes and advancing research-informed action. Working with multiple sectors and disciplines, we are shaping a world that demands fairness across difference.
News that FTSE 100 companies failed to meet government recommendations that women make up at least a quarter of their boards has come as little surprise to campaigners.
Despite a "huge leap" in the number of women appointed to non-executive posts this year, the latest report from Cranfield School of Management shows that the proportion of women on FTSE 100 boards has moved up only slightly, from 12.5% in December 2010 to 14.2%.
Although some companies, such as Burberry, have a high level of female representation at senior levels, others, such as International Power, have none. Half of all companies in the FTSE 250 have no female directors at all.
In the US, the story is much the same. Despite accounting for more than half of all jobs at financial companies, women fill a very small number of leadership positions in the corporate world, and the recession might be exacerbating this situation.
Female employees appear to be losing their jobs more easily than their male counterparts. Between 2007 and 2010 12.5% of women working in the UK financial sector lost their jobs, compared to 8.8% of men, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
New research has tried to address the disparity between the high level of education and early success of women, and their lack of representation further up the corporate hierarchy.
Rather than focus blame on inherently "male" cultures in the workplace, academics have attempted to look at issues that might be more immediately addressed, such as a lack of mentoring for female candidates and lack of imagination from chairmen about the professions which proffer suitable board members.
One area that many researchers seem keen to get away from is a conversation about the merits of employing women because of the perceived benefits that their gender might bring.
Stereotypes that pigeonhole women as more caring and emotionally intelligent are barriers - cliches that paint women as inherently less aggressive and more scared of risk, says Michelle Ryan, professor of social and organisational psychology at the University of Exeter. She believes that women continue to be under-represented at the top because changes in policy are not necessarily directly followed by changes in attitudes.