The Sunday Times recently reported on a survey of the top 100 FTSE-listed companies showed that the number of women holding senior directorships rose by just 5% in the past 10 years. And figures taken in October, just as the recession was starting to bite, revealed that the number of women appointed to top boards fell by almost a half compared with the year before. Professor Susan Vinnicombe,one of the authors of the 2008 Female FTSE report by Cranfield School of Management, said diversity was often one of the first casualties of a recession, despite evidence that such “knee-jerk” cost-cutting measures were actually bad for business. The survey showed that despite women making up 65% of the workforce, they took up only 12% of boardroom seats. “Only 11% of the new appointments went to women, compared with 20% the year before,” she said. That may already be an indication, she said, that some board chairmen felt the need “to stick to what they know rather than doing anything risky”.