Boys on boards hang on to their bastion

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The Independent Online
Despite the sexual revolution, the blossoming of new business courses and new universities, and the advent of the classless society, Britain's boardroom flowers still spring from traditional soil.

In an unrivalled snapshot of who runs our corporate world, Hemmington Scott, publisher of the Arthur Andersen Corporate Register, has polled all 20,000 directors of Britain's 2,200 listed companies.

They are overwhelmingly male, with only 3.8 per cent women - although even that small percentage is half as big again as in a similar survey five years ago.

The oldest director of either sex is Dorothy Bailey, 90, of CH Bailey, the eccentric shipyard and safari company run by her son Christopher.

The oldest executive director is Isidore Kerman, 89, of Bristol Scotts and Plumpton Racecourse. He still arrives at work each day at 9:30 and leaves at 4:30 to play bridge at the Portman Club in Mayfair. He works to stay happy and to help his friends. 'I'd go barmy otherwise.'

The youngest is Colin Wilkinson, 26, marketing manager of Eidos, the software house that in 1993 was the stock market's best-performing share. A rower and painter, he worked as an arts impresario before his current job.

Of the professions, accountants still overwhelm the boardroom. More than two- thirds of directors had passed their accountancy exams, a 4 per cent increase from five years ago.

More fashionable qualifications such as Masters of Business Administration have failed to make an impression. Only 165 had MBAs.

The most popular schools and universities have barely changed over the past five years, with Eton at the top. However, Manchester Grammar, 10th most popular in 1989, has slipped and now there are no state schools in the top 10.

Cambridge, number two in 1989, has knocked Oxford off the top perch, while Birmingham and the London School of Economics, both unlisted in 1989, have stormed up the ranks at the expense of Sheffield and Liverpool.

Titles still appear to be a passport to success. In 1989, only 583 directors used their titles. Four years into John Major's administration, 1,234 used titles, from the Duke of Kent, director of Vickers, to eight baronesses, 44 professors and 99 lords. MPs did less well than the upper house: only 29 appear to have directorships.

(Photographs omitted) (Table omitted)