Whether the conversation takes place in the boardroom or a corner office, when the topic turns to gender parity, there's a running joke: It's inevitable for women to come out on top because they outlive men.

In any case, it's safe to say that the presence of female leaders plays a role in an organization's success. Countless studies have found that gender balance within a leadership team allows for better monitoring of corporate affairs and higher quality decisions due to an expansion of ideas, perspectives and experiences, as well as increased attention to detail and corporate responsibility.

Studies have also shown that the more diverse the board, the better the organization's results: Diverse boards have 53% higher return on equity, 42% higher return on sales and 66% higher return on invested capital, according to Catalyst.com. An evaluation of the U.S. credit union industry commissioned by NCUA Vice Chairman Rick Metsger found that these trends hold true, as credit unions led by female CEOs had better CAMEL ratings and a higher net worth than those led by men. Yet, the boards of directors of the largest national trade organizations for credit unions include only six women among their 39 directors.

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