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Woman On Board

In the boardroom, there's still plenty of room for women.

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This story appears in the July 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The number of women directors on boards is paltry relative to the number of male directors--only 13.6 percent of Fortune 500 board seats are held by women, according to a 2003 report by Catalyst, an advisory organization working to advance women in business. Vicki Kramer, an executive committee member for InterOrganization Network, a fast-growing group of six executive business organizations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, says women can benefit from sitting on boards: "You learn about your own business by trying to think strategically about another business. You also get access to [potential] customers and suppliers. It's an opportunity to learn and network."

So why the disparity? "Men are generally accorded higher status and women lower status," explains Erika Hayes James, professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. James says men's high status can lead to a perception that they're more competent in business.

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