By IMFBlog

September 19, 2017

Versions in  中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish),日本語 (Japanese), Русский (Russian) 

Worldwide, women hold less than 20 percent of board seats of banks and banking supervision agencies. More women on bank boards may have a positive effect on bank stability (photo: istocksdaily/iStock by Getty Images)

The “glass ceiling” in finance has barely cracked. Compared to the available talent pool, there is still a large gap between the representation of men and women in leadership positions in banks and bank supervision agencies worldwide.

A recent IMF staff paper provides a comprehensive dataset on banking sector characteristics and performance, as well as on the share of women on the boards of directors and banking supervision agency boards, covering 72 countries over 13 years.

As seen in this chart, here are some of the key findings.

Data talks

Women hold less than 20 percent of bank board seats and account for less than 2 percent of bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). Only 15 banks out of almost 800 in 72 countries in the sample had women CEOs in 2013.

The representation of women on bank boards and banking supervision boards is low across geographical regions, country income levels, and types of banks, with the exception of savings banks.

• Contrary to common perceptions, many low- and middle-income countries have a higher share of women in bank boards and banking supervision agency boards compared to advanced economies.

The encouraging news is that board participation of women has been growing in many regions and in various types of banks. In East Asia, the average representation rose from 2 percent in 2001 to 14 percent in 2013. In Europe and Central Asia, it went up from about 4 percent to 18 percent over the same period. Across types of banks, in savings banks, which already had a higher share of women than other types of banks in 2001, it almost doubled.

The paper also finds new results suggesting that more women on bank boards may have a positive link with bank stability through higher capital buffers, controlling for other factors. The share of women on banking supervision boards also appears to be associated with bank stability.

For further reading, see Gender and the IMF.