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Source: MSCI All-Country World Index. Note: Reflects boards of 3,046 publicly traded companies based in 46 countries. Chart: Axios Visuals

Female representation on corporate boards around the world has doubled in the last decade. But board members — who play a big role in corporate decision-making, and earn big money for their labors — are still much more likely to be male.

Why it matters: Today is International Women's Day, and — despite unprecedented pressure from shareholders and others to diversify boardrooms — the prospects for gender parity there are bleak. Researchers say it could take another 25 years before there are just as many women as men in boardrooms worldwide.

  • "To achieve the goal faster would require increasing the number of board seats that open up each year and/or appointing women to a higher percentage of the seats that become available," according to MSCI.

Between the lines: Last year saw the biggest annual gain in global board seats held by women since 2009. California's boardroom law — which mandates that all California-based companies must have at least one female director — deserves part of the credit.

  • Outside the U.S., a number of countries, like Belgium, Norway and France, require that companies have a certain number of women on boards.

Shareholder pressure may also be pushing companies to act faster.

  • "Diversity and gender equality have been gaining traction as issues of concern to institutional investors," Meggin Thwing Eastman, MSCI’s research editorial director for ESG Research, tells Axios.
  • Eastman also cites "overall growing social attention" to board diversity as a reason for the boost.

There's progress outside of the corporate world.

  • Take the Federal Reserve. One of the most influential economic policy bodies in the world has taken a lot of flak for being too white and too male. But now, per a Reuters analysis, for the first time in the Fed's 107-year history, white men held fewer than half of board seats at its 12 regional banks.
  • Christine Lagarde became the first woman to head up Europe's central bank last year. Meantime, Ursula von der Leyen is the first to lead the European Commission.

What they're saying: "Incentives to close the gender gap are evident," researchers at Bank of America say in a new report on equality and diversity.

  • Companies "focused on gender diversity at a board, C-suite and firm level have consistently achieved higher [return on equity] and lower earnings risk," the bank found.

The bottom line: While all-male boards are becoming more rare, boards are still dominated by men.

  • The typical S&P 500 board seats four men for every woman, according to Bank of America.

Go deeper: How Wall Street is pushing for more women

Go deeper

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting aspects of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."