October 23, 2012
Guru is not the chief professor of mathematics at Harvard University’s maths department and it’s quite likely that he won’t ever be, but he doesn’t think you really need to be to spot what is wrong with the following conclusions from The Telegraph: “The majority of women surveyed - 68pc - said they would prefer to be an assistant because it meant they could maintain a good work-life balance… The findings suggest there is little use in the Government pushing to get more women on UK boards”.
Ignoring any questions over the general applicability of the survey, the problem with The Telegraph’s conclusion is that there are a lot more women than there are places on boards - in fact, Guru would estimate that even with 68% of women not wanting to be on boards that there would be enough women to (literally) fill every boardroom in the UK.
Beyond this, declaring that only 32% of women actually want to be on a board is entirely meaningless unless we know how this compares to men. Do all men want to be on a board? Assuming that the workforce is fairly close to 50% men-50% women, if the amount of men who want to be on a board is not approaching seven times more than the percentage of women who want to be on a board (as of 2010, only 12.5% of directors in FTSE 100 companies were women) then it could reasonably be suggested that there may be something other than desire preventing women reaching board level.
For the record, Guru doubts very much that 224% of men want to be on a board.