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.
Bjørkhaug, Hilde and Siri Øyslebø Sørensen (2012) Comparative Perspectives Comparative Social Research, Volume 29 Firms, Boards and Gender Quotas, 185–209 ISSN: 0195-6310