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Session Overview
RN14_05a_H: Quotas and Women on Boards
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Susan Durbin, University of the West of England
Location: HB.3.19
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 3.

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Gender Imbalance at the Top of the Business Sector in the Gender Equal Welfare States Iceland and Norway

Laufey Axelsdóttir

University of Iceland, Iceland

The under-representation of women in top positions is receiving increasing attention in Europe and the United States. It stands in contrast to the educational attainment among women, in areas such as finance, law and management, as well as the labour market participation among women. Gender imbalance among key decision makers is widespread, and strongest in the business sector (Davidson & Burke 2011). Supply and demand theory is often used to explain the persistent male dominance at the top levels (Teigen 2002). Demand-side explanations emphasize employers’ actions, along with discriminations, and supply-side explanations most often stress occupational choices of men and women (Reskin, 1993).

While Iceland is ranked as number 1 and Norway number 3 in the world on general gender equality, Iceland is number 29 and Norway number 39 on the ranking of gender equality among legislators, senior officials and managers (World Economic Forum, 2016). The paper examines how top-managers in these two most gender equal welfare countries value given supply and demand-side explanations of the under-representation of female top-managers, and what measures for a better gender balance they believe in. It draws on combined quantitative data-sets of 1388 male and female managers serving on the executive committees in the 250 largest companies,

The results show that managers question those given supply and demand-side explanations, and have relativity strong believes in recruitment policies and better gender balance of family responsibility to change the opportunity structure, and to contribute to a better representation of female executives in the business sector.

On recruiting executives in Iceland: A gender perspective

Ólöf Júlíusdóttir

University of Iceland, Iceland

The Nordic countries are known for its welfare society; dual breadwinner model, generous parental leave and in pursuing gender equality in all spheres. According to World Economic Forum Iceland takes the top score the eighth year in a row when measuring gender equality in the world. Women in leadership positions, however, remains low. The purpose of this study is to analyse the underrepresentation of women with economic power by looking further into the recruitment process within different companies.

Qualitative method is applied by analysing twenty semi structured interviews with female and male CEOs. The interviews were conducted in the end of 2016. Those selected were randomly chosen from a previously survey sent to 250 largest companies in Iceland.

The preliminary findings show that headhunting and networking are the main means of recruitment for executive positions. In general both women and men interviewed did not give much for their own involvement in networking although they mentioned the importance of it. Nevertheless, male business leaders have a broader network and greater opportunities to strengthen it. The discourse around gender balance in executive committees was different among women and men. For the men interviewed the best candidate was usually someone who “fits within the team,” independently of gender. However, men were most likely be the perfect match. For the greater part of women CEOs interviewed found it necessary to have other women in the executive positions, they preferred not to be there on their own.

Despite the good intention of the welfare society in promoting gender equality the complexity of the recruitment process part takes in maintaining women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions.

Gender balance on boards: the policy framework and the role of key actors

Sara Falcão Casaca

ISEG, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Despite the investment in education and human capital in general made by European women, their representation in business and economic decision-making bodies is still very low. In this regards, the picture in Portugal is particularly critical. The paper is intended to provide an overview of the slow progress made in the country, over the last decade, regarding the policy and normative framework geared towards a greater gender balance on boards and in economic decision-making. It further explores the legal-binding measures recently announced by the Government and critically discusses the low involvement of relevant social actors in policy proposals and policy advancement.

New directors, old boards. The implementation of gender quotas in Italian listed companies.

domenico carbone1, joselle dagnes2

1University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy; 2University of Turin

In Italy the existing gap between men and women in terms of access to the labor market, wage levels, and career opportunities is very relevant. The female labour participation rate is lower than 50%. Moreover, the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report ranks Italy in the 69st place out of 142 countries worldwide (21nd out of 28 European countries). Within this scenario, the legislator has recently introduced an important affirmative action in order to reduce the gender gap on job positions of responsibility, in which women are systematically underrepresented. In fact, with the Golfo-Mosca law, in 2011, gender quotas have been adopted for listed company boards in Italy. The law, providing for reaching a one third representation of women in business leadership, is changing the structure of Italian corporation boards by breaking the existing power balance.

The paper aims to investigate the effects of the quota law focusing on the recruitment process of new female directors and on their characteristics. The goal is to define the profile of women that through this law have reached a position within a corporate board, their career paths and their opinion about the effectiveness of the law in order to substantively, and not only formally, reduce the gender gap in this strategic segment of Italian’s labour market.

The empirical findings are based on the results of a national web-survey conducted among all the Italian women members of listed corporate boards.

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