Study after study shows that when women seek and serve political office – elected or appointed – they achieve the same success as their male counterparts. Yet women remain severely underrepresented in North Carolina politics, and most especially on “power boards.” Since power boards have critical decision-making and policy-making authority, they are highly sought-after appointments.
For the last two decades, the Women’s Forum of North Carolina has studied gender composition and appointment patterns on power boards. As with elected offices in North Carolina, membership on power boards remains heavily populated by men. The officials in charge of appointing people to power boards—including the governor, Speaker of the House, and President pro tem in the Senate—have all changed over the fourteen year span of the study, yet the pattern of women’s under representation on power boards remains.
With the research we conducted, we can make the following conclusions about North Carolina women on power boards. First, power boards remain over represented by men. Second, appointment patterns have changed little, demonstrating a fundamental weakness in the system across time. Third, there have been few changes in terms of the types of power boards that are most likely to appoint women, meaning that gender stereotypes prevail.
2013 Report: Closing the Leadership Gap: Achieving Gender Equity on North Carolina Boards and Commissions