One of the province's top businesswomen says Manitoba's corporate gender gap is "abysmal."
But, Ashleigh Everett says, new trends in corporate governance are trickling down to Manitoba and offer some hope.
Everett, head of Domo Gasoline and a corporate director at Scotiabank and MTS Allstream, was a featured speaker at a lunch Wednesday designed to spark a discussion about the shortage of women on private sector boards.
A Free Press analysis last year found only six per cent of board seats for the province's largest publicly-traded companies are women, well below Canada's already very low average.
Everett said boards are often made up of current or retired CEOs and few women hold those jobs. And, boards often recruit people they already know.
"Combined, these stack the deck against women," said Everett.
But, in the wake of corporate scandals such as Enron, board governance has improved. Old practices such as "overboarding" where one person holds multiple appointments are on the wane. That could open the door for more women, said Everett.
Wednesday's lunch was hosted by the Manitoba chapter of the Institute of Corporate Directors.