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What’s Behind The Gender Inequality In American Boardrooms?

When Ellen Costello started out in the financial industry, she was often the only woman in the room.

"Especially the times I was in the capital markets business, there were very few women," she told ThinkProgress. When she served on BMO's board for seven years, she was one of three women out of 15 seats. That could be uncomfortable when she was in the early stages of her career.

"Sure there were times… I have to think back to the early days, especially when I was really young in my career, when it was uncomfortable," she said. "But you adapt to it, and people are good at…looking beyond your gender, at what you can contribute.".

She eventually became president and CEO of BMO Financial Corp. and was recently appointed to the board of DH Corporation. And she says times have changes. "I'm happy to say that over the years, that group of women [in finance] has grown.".

The latest numbers released today by the research group Catalyst show that women make up 19. 2 percent of board positions on U.S. companies in the S&P; 500.

Perhaps more impressive is that 131 companies, or 26.

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