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Women comprise 14.5 per cent of corporate directors in boardrooms, up only marginally from 14 per cent in the last study two years ago.`Pawel Dwulit

Women in leadership roles are underrepresented across Canada's largest city, from the political arena to corporate boardrooms, while female visible minorities are almost absent from top jobs.

Women, who make up roughly half the population of the Greater Toronto Area, comprise only 17 per cent of the city's senior corporate leaders, according to a study by Ryerson University's Diversity Institute to be released Thursday.

Only two large companies headquartered in the city have at least 40 per cent women among their board members, while 38 per cent of companies have no women at all on their boards.

The findings are more stark when it comes to visible minorities. Female minorities, who account for about a quarter of residents in the GTA, comprise less than 1 per cent of corporate leaders.

Miranda Fong, 26, is an aspiring executive. She speaks three languages, has an MBA from Ryerson and a bachelor's degree in commerce and accounting from the Rotman School of Management, and has overseas work experience.

She would like to see more people like her rise to the top. Diversity "within a group brings new ideas and fresh blood, and it opens up a lot of barriers," said Ms. Fong, a finance manager in Royal Bank of Canada's real estate department.

She praises RBC for its commitment to hiring and promoting members of diverse groups, and draws inspiration from having Janice Fukakusa as the bank's chief financial officer. Broadly speaking, Ms. Fong said, "it's time to shift mindsets to be more open and accepting."