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Woman On Board

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

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

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

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

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