Women top managers are a rare sight in Norway

There is a law in Norway requiring publicly traded companies to have both men and women on their Boards of Directors. At least 40% of the seats on the board must occupied by men, and at least 40% must be occupied by women. A recent collection of essays tells more, Made in Norway: How Norwegians have used quotas to increase the number of women on company boards.

The Danish newspaper Berlingske recently interviewed me and several others for an article on one aspect of the Norwegian quota system, namely the (allegedly) surprising fact that the implementation of quotas for boards has not led to greater numbers of women in top management positions. The article in Berlingske discusses this issue from several perspectives.

My contribution was to suggest that it might not be reasonable to expect such a tight relationship between these two issues: “It’s simply naïve to believe that quotas for women on boards will automatically yield more women in top leadership positions. These are two completely different issues. When it comes to hiring women into leadership positions, there are other issues that make an impact, and they are often implicit. We see in research results that even in Scandinavia, women have to perform twice as good as a man to be judged as being equally well-qualified.”

Of course, the connection we might hope for is that gender-balanced boards will see the value of diversity and will put pressure on the management of the organization to implement measures to counter implicit bias, such as training for those doing hiring and promotion and making processes maximally transparent.

If you read Danish, you can enjoy the full article: Kvindelige topchefer et særsyn i Norge.

If you don’t read Danish, you might enjoy: 2 ways quotas for women raise quality.

My interest in moving universities towards balance encompasses gender equality, the communication of scientific results, promoting research-based education and leadership development more generally. Read more


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