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Four Women Match Men Sitting on the Most S&P 500 Boards

Anders Keitz

Repeats story published Feb 21. This is the first in a series of stories that comprise TheStreet's Blue Chip Project, which will illuminate issues related to corporate board performance, activism, dealmakers and personalities revealed by analysis of data generated by BoardEx, a business unit of TheStreet.

Serving on the board of directors for a public company is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, even if it is only a part-time job for some. Directors have significant oversight responsibilities and are ultimately beholden to represent the interest of the shareholders.

"As directors, you play a critical role in setting the appropriate tone at the top, are expected to be guardians of the company's assets, and are relied upon by both shareholders and the capital market," said Commissioner Luis Aguilar of the Securities and Exchange Commission during an October 2015 summit.

A number of people, however, serve as directors on more than one board. When looking at the components of the S&P 500, there are 14 people who sit on as many as four boards, according to BoardEx data. BoardEx is a business unit of TheStreet. Four S&P 500 boards is the most any director serves currently.

Notably, more than a quarter of the people who serve on four boards are women.

American physicist Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson serves on the board of four publicly traded companies: FedEx , Public Service Enterprise Group , Medtronic and International Business Machines .  Jackson also serves as president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Fellow FedEx director Susan Schwab also sits on four boards, including Caterpillar , Boeing and Marriott International . Schwab's duties extend far beyond the boardroom, however. She served as United States Trade Representative between 2006 and 2009. Schwab is also a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland.

Following her tenure at Goldman Sachs , Suzanne Nora Johnson came to serve on the board of directors at Pfizer , Visa , American International Group and Intuit .

Former CEO of Lucent Technologies, Patricia Russo is the fourth woman to sit on four boards for components of the S&P 500. Russo is a director for Merck , General Motors , Arconic and is the Chairman of the board for Hewlett Packard Enterprise . In 2006, Forbes rated Russo as 25th on its "List of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women."

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Calls and emails requesting comment by these four women were not returned by the time of publication.

Their service as members of the boards of some of America's biggest corporations comes at a time when leveling the playing field for the women in the workforce is gaining international attention.

Last Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted a panel for women in business, stressing their importance in the workplace.

"In order to create economic growth and well-paying jobs we must assure the economy is a place where women can work and thrive," Trump said last week.

Furthermore, a recent study by the Peterson Institute found that the presence of women in corporate leadership positions may improve the firm's performance.

Still, women only make up about 21% of total S&P 500 boards. And, the four women who rival men, holding the same amount of similar positions, did not partake in the discussion, although their insight would have provided valuable insight into shattering the glass ceiling.

Alex Architetktonidis, Neil Carter, Matt Hass and Dominick Sutton contributed to this report.

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