Getting Women on to Corporate Boards
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Getting Women on to Corporate Boards

A Snowball Starting in Norway

Edited by Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen and Marina Brogi

This book provides unique insights into how the idea of quota laws to get women on to corporate boards gained international momentum from its origins in Norway. Invaluable insights are gained through the stories of actors involved in shaping the discourse and practice on women of boards.
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Chapter 29: Winning the board game: Europe’s economy needs more women in business

Viviane Reding


In the past few decades, Europe has made significant progress in getting more women into the workforce. The female employment rate is now 62 per cent, up from 55 per cent in 1997. Moreover, women are also making great strides in education, representing 60 per cent of new university graduates. European Union (EU) legislation and EU funding have contributed to these advances. Despite this progress there has been one significant shortfall: the lack of women at the top levels in companies. Many qualified women cannot break through the glass ceiling when climbing the corporate ladder. The facts are bleak: just one in seven board members (13.7 per cent) at Europe’s top publicly listed companies and one in 30 boardroom chairs per cent) is a woman. The European Commission is committed to increasing the percentage of women in economic decision-making positions; equality in decision- making is one of the five priority areas in both the Women’s Charter and the European Commission’s Strategy for Equality between Women and Men (2010–2015). Against the backdrop of the economic crisis, an ageing population, low birth rates and an anticipated skills shortage, it is increasingly important to take advantage of everyone’s skills. As said previously, women represent 60 per cent of new university graduates and generally leave university with better qualifications than men. Despite this academic prowess, women struggle to climb the corporate ladder, with their professional careers failing to properly reflect their knowledge and skills. Human capital is key to competitiveness in the global economy.

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