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Article
Publication date: 21 February 2019

Jolien Voorspoels and Inge Bleijenbergh

The purpose of this paper is to explore the practices utilized by university actors when implementing gender quotas, and study how these practices affect gender equality…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the practices utilized by university actors when implementing gender quotas, and study how these practices affect gender equality in academic decision-making bodies.

Design/methodology/approach

The study applies a practice theory lens to the case study of a Belgian university implementing a gender quota by performing 26 semi-structured interviews with actors, and collecting and analyzing relevant organizational documents.

Findings

This study shows that university actors implement gender quotas through three practices: gender-specific calls, scouting and “playing around”. Identifying this variation in practices helps to understand both actors’ sense-making of compliance with gender quotas and women’s decision-making power in academic bodies.

Research limitations/implications

This study explores how practices interact with the organization’s broader context and its power dynamics. In future studies, adding ethnographic observations would strengthen the practice approach.

Practical implications

The study indicates that implementing gender quotas can foster women’s representation in decision-making, but that a strictly procedural sense-making of gender quotas could also undermine this. Universities should continue implementing gender quotas, further analyze their implementation practices and comprehensively adapt their organizational policies and practices to comply with gender equality goals substantively.

Originality/value

Through a practice theory approach, this paper offers original insight into how actors comply with gender quotas. Uncovering the implementation process in particular, the paper reveals how gender quotas could foster gender equality in academic decision-making.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 38 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 16 February 2012

Hilde Bjørkhaug and Siri Øyslebø Sørensen

Lack of women in boardrooms and management has been a common feature of corporate and agricultural sectors in Norway. In both sectors, quota reforms have been implemented…

Abstract

Lack of women in boardrooms and management has been a common feature of corporate and agricultural sectors in Norway. In both sectors, quota reforms have been implemented in order to change this situation. This chapter analyses the reasons given for applying gender quotas. While public limited companies were enforced by law to elect a minimum 40 per cent women or men to their boards in 2008, the board of the Federation of Norwegian Agricultural Co-operatives (FNAC) voluntarily decided that a minimum of 40 per cent women or men should be represented in their boards by 2009. How could it be that the agricultural cooperatives introduced this voluntarily, while the business corporations were to be forced by legislation? Public documents, governmental papers, media texts and interview data are analysed to identify and compare the reasoning for gender board quotas. The comparison sheds light on our understanding of the boardroom quota as more complex than simply to deal with gender equality. Traditional gender equality arguments did play a role, but in different ways, articulations and emphasis. More pragmatic reasoning played a role. In FNAC, we saw that the process of organisation-building and modernisation played an important role in the decision to voluntarily introduce gender quotas on boards. Within the corporate sector there were no advocates for introducing gender quotas before profitability arguments came to the fore, but even though such arguments were acceptable to the corporate sector, they did not have the same effect in terms of getting volunteer support for gender quotas.

Details

Firms, Boards and Gender Quotas: Comparative Perspectives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-672-0

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 February 2021

Teodora-Maria Soare, Céline Detilleux and Nick Deschacht

The authors estimate the effect of the gender composition of company boards on firm performance by exploiting variation in the percentage of women after the implementation…

Abstract

Purpose

The authors estimate the effect of the gender composition of company boards on firm performance by exploiting variation in the percentage of women after the implementation of a 2011 Belgian policy reform, which introduced a gender quota for listed companies.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyze the evolution of firm performance between companies that were subjected to the quota law and compare it with the performance of similar firms that were not subjected to the law. This difference-in-difference (DiD) approach allows the authors to avoid the potential bias resulting from unobserved firm characteristics.

Findings

The authors find that the quota policy resulted in the replacement of about one male director by a female one in the average firm between 2010 and 2017. However, this increase in diversity appears to have negatively affected some firm performance indicators. The authors find statistically significant negative effects for 10 out of the 23 financial indicators included in this study, while the other 13 indicators showed no significant effect.

Originality/value

The originality of this research lies in both the methodology and the findings. The policy reform that the authors study can be regarded as a natural experiment so that the DiD method provides estimates of the causal effect of the gender composition of company boards on firm performance. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that presents causal evidence of negative effects of gender quota on organizational performance. These results cast doubts on the business case argument for gender quota and show that results from correlational studies are likely to be biased upward.

Details

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, vol. 71 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0401

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 July 2016

Rainhart Lang and Irma Rybnikova

This study aims to explore the main discursive images of women managers as reproduced by selected German newspapers at the time of the political debate surrounding gender

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the main discursive images of women managers as reproduced by selected German newspapers at the time of the political debate surrounding gender quota on management boards between 2011 and 2013.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on critical discourse analysis according to Wodak (2001), an empirical analysis of media articles on women managers in two German newspapers, Welt and Bild, has been conducted.

Findings

The results of the study show that despite the diversity of images fabricated by the media in reference to women managers, the debate surrounding the issue of establishing a gender quota in management boards is dominated by dualistic categories and reductionist identity ascriptions, like women managers as being “over-feminine” or “over-masculine”, “exclusive” or “outsiders”.

Research limitations/implications

As the empirical focus of the study lays on two right-wing newspapers in Germany, the results do not allow for generalizations regarding the German media landscape.

Social implications

Public dispute surrounding gender quota in German companies tends to reproduce stereotypical discursive figures regarding women managers instead of challenging them. A fundamental change in the media reports on women managers is needed.

Originality/value

The research contributes to the analysis of media representations of women managers, by providing context-sensitive results from the current political debate in Germany. The findings reveal the stability of discursive structures over time, particularly gendered bias in the case of media representations of women managers, notwithstanding political aspirations to change established practices.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 31 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 May 2022

Eva Hamplová, Václav Janeček and Frank Lefley

The question has been asked, “Where are the women?” explicitly looking at the public relations (PR) industry, but this is a broader issue reflected in many senior…

Abstract

Purpose

The question has been asked, “Where are the women?” explicitly looking at the public relations (PR) industry, but this is a broader issue reflected in many senior management roles, especially at the corporate board level. One of the solutions suggested is “quotas”. This paper explores the literature to identify the prominent arguments for and against representation regulations (quotas) concerning corporate board gender diversity and concisely presents the findings.

Design/methodology/approach

The exploratory research path first focuses on a literature search using the keywords – “gender diversity”, “board structures” and “female traits” to identify the various issues concerning female members serving on corporate boards. This led to the investigation exploring if 'quotas' could play a role in increasing the number of female directors and, if so, what kind of impact this would have. When the authors discovered the paper by Place and Vardeman-Winter (2018), it was realised that a possible gap in the literature might have been identified. The focus then turned to the PR and corporate communications literature, where it was discovered that the issue of gender quotas was not explored. This paper brings together the germane literature from a wide range of disciplines. To obtain a broad perspective of the arguments, the authors conducted a review of this diverse field of literature through various databases and websites, including Scopus, Web of Science, ScienceDirect, Google Scholar, publishers' databases such as Emerald Insight, Taylor and Francis, Macmillan, Blackwell, Oxford University, etc.

Findings

There are solid arguments both for and against quotas. However, many opposing views appear to be less sound than the positive ones, which allowed the authors to concur in favour of quotas and the broader adoption of female directors. It is only by identifying problems that solutions can be found – the issues concerning corporate board gender quotas relate to the perception of the arguments for and against quotas; the reality is often different. While there is a strong “business case” and “stakeholder influence” for the inclusion of women on corporate boards, some governments have put further pressure (either voluntary or mandatory) on organisations by imposing a “quota” system. At the same time, other countries are undecided on what action, if any, to take.

Practical implications

This paper can serve as guidance to countries that have not yet implemented quotas or those looking to move from a voluntary to mandatory quotas system. In addition to that, the paper should be valuable to academics, managers, regulators, legislators and policy-makers.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors knowledge, this is the first academic paper to present the critical arguments raised in the diverse literature on corporate board gender quotas succinctly and concisely and, therefore, adds value to the literature. It is also believed to be the first paper to address the issue of quotas in the PR and corporate communications literature.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 18 April 2022

Mara Sousa and Maria João Santos

This article addresses gender imbalances in senior company board decision-making positions and analyses the effects of applying gender quotas in European countries…

Abstract

This article addresses gender imbalances in senior company board decision-making positions and analyses the effects of applying gender quotas in European countries, through comparative and interpretative data analysis.

The results clearly demonstrate that those countries implementing quotas not only return higher levels of female representation on their boards of directors – approximately 40% – but also register higher rates of growth over both countries without quotas and those with quotas but without sanctions. Results furthermore suggest that the success of any quota system deeply depends on its formulated terms, on a country's corporate culture, on social receptivity and, at the micro level, on the sector an organisation belongs to.

Details

The Equal Pillars of Sustainability
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80382-066-8

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 16 February 2012

Vibeke Heidenreich

Why did Sweden and Norway arrive at different conclusions with regards to the introduction of corporate gender quotas? The chapter points to two decisive and interwoven…

Abstract

Why did Sweden and Norway arrive at different conclusions with regards to the introduction of corporate gender quotas? The chapter points to two decisive and interwoven explanations.

First, there is a question of varieties of capitalism – even within the Scandinavian model: The strong and traditionally socially responsible Swedish business life enjoyed more autonomy than their Norwegian counterpart, making it harder for the Swedish state to interfere in business life. In Norway, on the other hand, the state was a dominant capitalist itself whereas private owners in general were small and dispersed. Consequently, the capacity of the state to interfere in business life was larger, compared to Sweden.

Second, there is a matter of different cultures concerning gender equality and the attitudes towards state intervention: In Norway, an established gender quota tradition and rather positive attitudes towards state intervention created a moderate discursive climate in gender equality matters. A discursive tradition accepting women as a group as different from men as a group gave politicians a larger scope of action concerning gender equality measures directed at women only. In Sweden, the discursive climate was more hostile towards state intervention, and there was a less strong tradition for legally imposing gender quotas. In addition, Swedish feminists were active and conflict-oriented, thereby creating a polarized gender equality discussion in a public life traditionally oriented towards consensus-based solutions to political discrepancies.

Details

Firms, Boards and Gender Quotas: Comparative Perspectives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-672-0

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 16 February 2012

Mari Teigen

The spread of corporate board quota legislation is studied in light of diffusion theory. Mechanisms of diffusion, path dependency and critical junctures can contribute to…

Abstract

The spread of corporate board quota legislation is studied in light of diffusion theory. Mechanisms of diffusion, path dependency and critical junctures can contribute to explaining the spread of policy reforms, such as the corporate board quota legislation. The empirical section describes the Norwegian reform process and maps out the ongoing European and global reform processes and debates. Seven countries, in addition to Norway, have in recent years initiated legal reforms and adopted corporate board quota rules: Spain, Iceland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Malaysia. However, the debates over the introduction of parallel legislation extend further, and are a burning issue in several other Western European countries, as well as globally. The discussion addresses why this policy spreads, and tries to understand the complexities of factors that have led to the diffusion of public debate and legal reform of corporate board quota.

Details

Firms, Boards and Gender Quotas: Comparative Perspectives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-672-0

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 9 July 2018

Luisa De Vita and Antonella Magliocco

The purpose of this paper is to provide a first impact assessment of the Italian quota law in order to explore whether “gender equality by law” contributes to redefining…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a first impact assessment of the Italian quota law in order to explore whether “gender equality by law” contributes to redefining, albeit in part, consolidating and establishing positions of power and decision making. The paper analyses these dynamics by focusing on a specific economic sector, the banking sector. The analysis strives to determine: whether binding quotas are giving rise to an apparent enforcement by building up new distortionary equilibria (such as new forms of horizontal segregation); what extent the financial crisis has impacted on the rhetoric of female representation, and whether it has pushed towards a “regenerative” organizational change aimed at achieving a more inclusive and egalitarian image.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 reviews the theoretical and empirical debate on gender diversity and quota impact. Section 3 reports macro and micro data on the italian system; Section 4 describes the Italian banking system and gives a first impact assessment on Italian banks of the mandatory gender quotas in Italy (the so-called “Golfo-Mosca law,” named after MPs who proposed the law); some qualitative considerations are carried out on the reactions of Italian banks to the financial crisis in terms of “bridge policies” aimed at corresponding to a higher demand of customer satisfaction and fairness. Section 5 concludes and summarizes the finding of the study.

Findings

The Italian banking system is not so dramatically ranked among the EU countries as in the recent past. The gender rebalance in management bodies could be considered rather satisfying. If we compare ten-year-old findings, the number of women on board of directors has tripled. But data clearly show a dichotomy due to significant differences between listed and non-listed banks. In non-listed banks, women are still relegated to an under-represented position, reaching only 13 percent on boards of directors (as against 33 percent in listed banks). The data confirm the results found in non-financial sector that women are significantly better represented on audit boards. In accordance with all previous studies, no relevant changes can be noticed on key-decision roles: no CEOs or Directors general are women in listed banks, and women are always more represented in non-executive functions.

Originality/value

The paper analyses the law experience in Italy as a significant case study by proving that rules such as temporary binding gender quotas (introduced by law in 2011) can be useful, but not always enough to remove blocking or distortive factors in organizational ladders.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 38 no. 7-8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 24 January 2021

Yasaman Sarabi and Matthew Smith

This paper aims to provide an exploratory analysis of male and female directors, comparing the case of UK FTSE 350 boards of directors for 2010–2018, with Norwegian boards…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide an exploratory analysis of male and female directors, comparing the case of UK FTSE 350 boards of directors for 2010–2018, with Norwegian boards from 2002 to 2018, to examine patterns of busy female directors. This paper considers the differences between the effects of interest groups’ actions and those of quotas on the emergence of busy female directors.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses a longitudinal approach, providing an examination of both non-busy directors and busy directors sitting on the boards of UK and Norwegian firms, with a focus on female directors. Drawing on methods from social network analysis, several trends and patterns are mapped for the two corporate systems. The paper tests whether the proportion of busy male directors is significantly different from the proportion of busy female directors in the two institutional settings.

Findings

The results show there has been an increase in the proportion of busy female directors, whereas the level of busy male directors is slightly decreasing in the UK from 2010 to 2018. In Norway, following the introduction of gender quotas on corporate boards, there has been an increase in overboarded directors, especially female directors, along with the rise of so-called “golden skirt” directors. However, when compared to the UK case, the proportion of busy male and female directors is higher, suggesting that the emergence of the golden skirts in Norway is not a result of quotas alone.

Originality/value

The topic of busy directors has received increased attention in recent years, yet the gender of these directors is often neglected. This paper provides an overview of the characteristics of busy female directors for large UK and Norwegian firms, presenting avenues for future research.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal , vol. 36 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

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