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Facebook blasted for male board bias

Andy Goldberg –

SAN FRANCISCO — The majority of Facebook users may be women, and they use the site, on average, more than men.

But the leadership of the world’s top social networking site is overwhelmingly male — and investors are taking notice ahead of the company’s imminent initial public stock offering.

CalSTRS, the pension fund for California teachers, the second-largest pension fund in the country, sent a letter to Facebook complaining about its all-white, all-male board of directors and calling for more racial and gender diversity.

“We are disappointed that the Facebook board will not have any women members,” CalSTRS director of corporate governance Anne Sheehan wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “This is particularly glaring in view of the fact that Facebook is going public at a time when there is clear evidence that companies with diverse boards perform far better than the companies with more homogenous boards.”

Facebook spokespeople were unwilling to respond to the letter.

The criticism did not mention Facebook’s high-profile chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, whose stake in the company will be worth a projected 1.6 billion dollars when the company goes public. She is a major advocate for women in business.

She is widely seen as the most likely woman to get a seat on the Facebook board, which currently comprises founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Internet entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, Washington Post chief executive Donald Graham, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings and venture capitalists James Breyer and Peter Thiel.

A Pew Internet survey in 2010 found that 58 per cent of Facebook users are women, and that women spend more time than men making status and profile updates and commenting on others’ posts.

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