Despite being a progressive trendsetter in many an arena, California still has a long way to go to achieve gender diversity in corporate boardrooms. The sixth annual UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders, compiled by the University's Graduate School of Management, shows that men still hold roughly nine out of every 10 highest-paid management and board positions in California's largest public companies.

The study, published for 5 years now, relies primarily on data collected from mandatory reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the recent release, women overall hold just 9.5 percent of board room seats and highest-paid executive positions. More than a third (141) of the 400 companies surveyed have no women directors in the board, or even among their five highest-paid executives. Just 16 of these companies have a women CEO, accounting for a meager 4%.

Gender diversity is increasingly becoming a key objective of organizations worldwide with the growing realization that it leads to better decision making and also stronger financial results in the long run.

Biz schools too have been trying to encourage more women to apply to their programs and are evolving ways to create networking and support systems for women seeking to enter the corporate career field. Top schools across the globe such as INSEAD, Wharton, London Business School and HEC Paris, to name just a few, have their own diversity initiatives through which they seek to inspire and harness the management potential of women from diverse cultures.

While women earned more than 20 percent of business and management masters degrees in the US as early as 1980, their share of such degrees has reached 40 percent in recent years - a very slow upward trending pointed out by Donald Palmer, management professor at UC Davis, who has been directing the research for the University's study for four years.

However, despite the greater enrolment in formal business programs, there has been little improvement in their representation in the upper echelons of management, as is evident from the California study.

The career versus family dilemma continues to guide the decisions of a majority of women around the world, as was re-affirmed in a study by Claudia Goldin, professor of Economics at Harvard University. Goldin's study also indicated that business and finance are among the fields with highest career cost of family - a finding that might explain the perpetuation of the glass ceiling in corporate boardrooms.