BOSTON (SHNS) – For the first time, a majority of the state’s 50 most prominent boards and commissions are chaired by women as the number of female chairs has climbed almost 65 percent since 2019, a report from the Eos Foundation’s Women’s Power Gap Initiative found.

While 28 of the state’s top 50 boards and commissions are now chaired by a woman (up from 17 when the foundation first began reporting in 2019), people of color are still underrepresented and most of the panels are still made up of a majority of men.

Of the 28 women board chairs, only four are women of color and none of the 50 boards or commissions reviewed are chaired by a man of color, the report said. And regardless of the chairperson, 28 boards or commissions are still majority male and 16 have less than 30 percent female representation.

“In three years, we’ve seen great strides for women overall and believe the Administration has been intentional in recruiting and appointing women to these influential positions,” Andrea Silbert, president of the Eos Foundation, said. “We now need to shift that intentionality to women and men of color, LGBTQ2+, trans women, veterans, and the disability communities. We urge the next Administration to build on our current success, accelerating diversity to better guide our state during these challenging times.”

There were 22 boards that the Eos report graded as “leading” in parity, meaning that women account for at least half of the seats. That list includes the all-women Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, and others like the Parole Board (83 percent women), Cannabis Control Commission (80 percent women), Gaming Commission (60 percent women), and Board of Higher Education (50 percent women).

The report also identified 16 boards or commissions that the Eos Foundation determined need “Urgent Action” to make progress toward gender parity. That list includes the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees (29 percent women), MBTA Board (29 percent women), Mass. Port Authority Board (29 percent women), Mass. Clean Energy Center (25 percent women), Mass. Life Sciences Center (17 percent women), and Board of Fire Prevention Regulations (6 percent women).

The Eos Foundation report recommends that Massachusetts elevate the job of appointments director to a new position of Secretary of Appointments, better partner with community college and state university presidents on board appointments, set goals for underrepresented women and men of color and require all boards to set their own goals for each group, and fill immediate vacancies on boards or commissions with underrepresented women and men of color.