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Economic Quarterly

Fourth Quarter 2019

Gender Composition of the Boards of Directors of the Regional Federal Reserve Banks

Arantxa Jarque and Caroline Davis

Women have traditionally been underrepresented among governors of the Federal Reserve Board and among presidents of the regional Federal Reserve Banks. This lack of diversity may limit the representation of the interests of women, leave out valuable talent, and affect group dynamics and decision-making. These concerns are also relevant for the members of the Boards of Directors of the twelve regional banks of the Federal Reserve System. This article presents and analyzes hand-collected data on female representation on these twelve boards. Since 1977, when the first five women began serving as directors, the proportion of females has increased significantly, reaching its peak of 31.5 percent (thirty-three women out of the total 108 directors) in the last year of our sample, 2017. In our analysis, we find that the limited proportion of new directors who are female, not a differential quitting rate by gender, is the main driver of their limited representation. Using our statistical model, we extrapolate trends in hiring and quitting to predict the time it could take to achieve equal representation. We find it could take between thirteen years (if the trends of the last ten years are maintained) and thirty-one years (if trends are instead those observed since 1977). We find evidence suggestive of using targeted appointments of women to replace departing female directors or maintaining some implicit minimum female representation.


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