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California Law to Mandate Women on Boards Calls Out Startling Data

By October 2, 2018Article

Much ink was spilled recently in the business press over California Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of a bill to require California–based public companies to have at least one woman on their boards by 2019.

The main criticism? The law is probably unconstitutional and therefore not enforceable. Some business groups also took issue with the fact of a mandate at all, declaring it anti-competitive.

But Brown knew the shortcomings of the bill when he signed it into law, noting the bill’s “flaws” that could doom implementation. Still, he signed it, saying that “many are not getting the message” when it comes to gender equality. He then forwarded his signing letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., which recently advanced Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

It was a blatantly political move by the governor, but the facts are clear. As Recode noted in a recent article, “Just 16 percent of board members on tech companies in the Russell 3000 – a grouping of the 3,000 biggest publicly traded tech companies in the U.S. – are women, according to June 30 data from Equilar.” (Equilar provides data on executives and board members at thousands of public companies.)

Here’s Recode’s infographic showing women’s involvement on boards at some of the nation’s largest tech companies:

Is it simply a pipeline problem?


Clare Christopher is editor of


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