Why are boards still so reluctant to appoint more female directors? Are we on the brink of a major change?

If any group has been at the forefront of tracking the progress of women on boards, it is Catalyst Inc., which has focused its international research on issues related to women in business since 1962, and has been studying the pace of progress for women on boards in Canada for the past decade. The firm's research has charted glacially slow growth in female directors at FP500 companies - Canada's 500 largest public and private companies and Crown corporations.

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Deborah Gillis, who heads Catalyst's Canadian office, says corporate boards continue to favour new directors who are CEOs or former CEOs of large companies - a candidate pool that has few women in its ranks. And board members continue to come from a small group of well-connected business leaders - a group that many women have had trouble breaking into to become known to board recruiters.

Ms. Gillis took reader questions in a live discussion.

Ms. Gillis has been advising senior leaders in the public and private sectors on human capital and policy issues for 20 years. Prior to joining Catalyst, she held leadership roles in two global professional services firms and senior management roles with the Governments of Ontario and Nova Scotia. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from York University in Toronto.