From One Woman Board Member in Emerging Markets to 1,500

by Natasha Doff, Zahra Hankir and Adi Narayan for Bloomberg

When Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw set up Indian biotechnology company Biocon Ltd. (BIOS) in 1978, female entrepreneurs were so rare that she said a bank offered her credit under a special program meant mostly for the disabled and the country’s poorest castes.

“They had a very patronizing attitude toward women,” Mazumdar-Shaw said. “There was a cap on the amount of loans they were giving to women. I didn’t take it, of course.”

A lot has changed in the last 36 years. Today, there are 22 female chief executive officers of publicly traded companies in India, the developing country with the second-most women holding CEO or equivalent posts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.China is No. 1, the data show.

Buoyed by wider educational opportunities, laws mandating female participation in corporate governance and government support for children and families, businesswomen in emerging nations are narrowing the gap with their more developed counterparts. Ten years ago, there was just one female director of an emerging-market-based company. Now there are more than 1,500, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Read more here.

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