Female members of corporate boards of directors are nearly twice as likely as their male counterparts to have professional technology experience, according to new research from Accenture.
To understand the gender composition of corporate boards and the role technology plays in the careers of female board members, Accenture examined women’s representation on the boards of more than 500 Forbes Global 2000 companies in 39 countries across Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Australia.
The research found that 16 percent of female directors, versus 9 percent of male directors, have professional technology experience.
While Accenture’s research shows a general shortage of technology experience in boardrooms in this digital era – with only 10 percent of all board members having professional technology experience – the findings point to the opportunity that women with professional technology experience might have in getting on corporate boards.
“As technology disrupts virtually every industry, companies need to think more broadly about the type of skills and experience needed for their boards, including getting more technology acumen into the boardroom, “ said Michelle Cullen, Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Accenture Ireland. “At the same time, they need to stay focused on gender diversity, since organisations with diversity at the board level perform better. Women directors with technology experience bring diversity and valuable insight – a clear recipe for strategic advantage.”
In an Accenture report released earlier this year, Getting to Equal: How Digital is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work, it was found that digitally savvy Irish women are helping to close the gender gap in the workplace, providing empirical proof that women are using digital skills to gain an edge in preparing for work, finding work and advancing at work.
“It’s hugely encouraging to see that women are leading the way when it comes to their technology experience and we need to nurture that interest. In Ireland, our priority should be creating and sustaining curiosity in technology and STEM careers, from school right up to Board level so that individuals, businesses and society as a whole can benefit from the proven advantages of having tech-savvy senior women.”
Accenture’s research also found notable differences between industries in the percentage of female directors with technology experience. Not surprisingly, of the 15 industries covered by the research (see Methodology, below), the one with the highest percentage of tech-savvy female board members is technology, at 51 percent – more than double the average of most other industries.
Communications ranks second, at 29 percent, followed by healthcare, at 22 percent; and automotive and industrial; energy; and pharmaceuticals, chemicals and life sciences, at 17 percent each. At the bottom of the list are banking and insurance, at 8 percent and 2 percent, respectively. In all but two industry sectors, both of which are part of the broader financial services sector – capital markets & diversified financials, and insurance – the percentage of women with technology experience exceeds the number of men with technology experience.