For all their economic clout, women continue to play a very limited role in corporate governance in California’s 400 largest public companies.

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

Last week, UC Davis released a study of the state of California women business leaders. The 8th annual UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Highest-Paid Executives study details companies with at least 25% of the board seats and highest-paid executive positions going to women leaders.

“Our findings paint a disappointing picture: There is only one woman for every nine men among directors and highest-paid executives at these high-profile companies,” said Steven Currall, Dean and Professor of Management at UC Davis Graduate School of Management, which released the study.


Women In Leadership

The study also highlighted top four companies stand out for their commitment to incorporate women in top leadership roles. These companies all have women in at least one-third of their board seats and highest-paid executive positions: Williams-Somona, bebe stores, American States Water Company and LTC Properties.

Nine companies are new to the Top 25 this year: Bio-Rad Laboratories, Corinthian Colleges, Jack in the Box, Juniper Networks, Netflix, Netgear, QAD, QuinStreet and West Marine.

Two of the four companies that top our list in 2012, bebe stores and LTC Properties, have been among the top four companies for three years in a row.

The study warns that “with so few women business leaders, the loss of even one or two from a company can have a significant impact on the gender diversity of its board room and executive suite.”

Women In The Boardroom

In California’s biggest 400 companies, 5.5% (22 companies) have three or more women on the board.

These companies include Wells Fargo, Walt Disney Company, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Cisco Systems, Google, Health Net, Hewlett-Packard, Kaiser, Mattel, McKesson, Netgear and Visa.

334 board seats are held by 313 women of the total 3,189 board seats in the largest 400 California companies. Of these women, 35 (11.2%) hold at least two board seats among companies in the 2012 Fortune 500.

Women 2.0 readers: What can we do to increase the number of women in the boardroom? Let us know in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Angie Chang co-founded Women 2.0 in 2006 with Shaherose Charania. She currently serves as Editor-In-Chief of Women 2.0 and is working to mainstream women in entrepreneurship. Previously, Angie held roles in product management, web UI design, and entrepreneurship. In 2008, Angie launched Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, asking that guys come as the “+1” for once. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.