By Ben Simmons

Women are still under-represented in top corporate jobs, despite efforts in many countries to promote their participation on boards, according to new data from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD’s new Gender Browser reveals that women occupied only one in ten board seats in listed companies in the 34 OECD listed countries in 2009, the most recent year for which comparable data are available.

This percentage varies greatly across countries: it is highest in Norway, at close to 40%, as a result of a mandatory quota introduced in 2006. The European Union is also due to announce today new measures to improve gender balance in company boards.

In Sweden, France, Slovak Republic and Finland the proportion of women on boards is between 15% and 20%, while in Germany, Japan and the Netherlands, it is less than 5%.

Spain, Iceland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy have all introduced laws to promote gender equality on boards, setting targets of between 20% and 40%. While there is no conclusive evidence that a company’s performance is boosted by having more women on the board, it is increasingly recognized that greater gender diversity in firms would increase the talent pool for top executives.

These data are among a series of new gender indicators being released today by the OECD in advance of International Women’s Day on Thursday 8 March. Other issues covered include education, entrepreneurship, the gender wage gap, life expectancy and the proportion of women in parliaments.

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness