The federal government has announced funding for a scholarship program aimed at improving the gender balance of superannuation boards.

Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Bill Shorten has announced $150,000 funding for the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) and Women in Super (WIS) to deliver the program.

The scholarship will enable qualified women to accelerate the acquisition of superannuation-specific knowledge and board related skills, while providing mentoring support.

According to the Boardroom Diversity Index 2012, published by Women on Boards, women currently represent 21.8 per cent of trustees on fund boards. AIST has a target of 40 per cent of board positions held by woman by 2017.

This compares with women comprising 13.9 per cent of the boards of ASX 200 companies.

Minister Shorten acknowledged that a number of funds – including AGEST Super, HESTA, Australian Catholic Super and Retirement Fund and several others – had already joined the “40-per-cent club.”

“I encourage more funds to make a pledge to join the 40-per-cent club,” Shorten said. “I am an absolute believer in the march of women through Australia’s workforce, our institutions and our boards.”

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