In the article, published in Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning (Journal of Gender Research) Hilde Bjørkhaug explore the relationship between gender quotas and professionalization of boards.
In 2003 the Federation of Norwegian Agricultural Co-operatives decided on a voluntary programme with the aim of having boards made up of at least 40 percent women. The share of women board members consequently rose from 17 percent in 2003 to 39 percent in 2009. This effort put the federation ahead of formal legislation and also gave it an opportunity to appear as a modern organization compared with other industries and businesses. Alongside the public debate on gender balance in Norwegian boardrooms a debate took place on professionalization of board tasks and corporate governance. This paper analyses interview and observation data from four co-operative boards. While it was stressed that gender was not relevant in the boardroom, diversity of gender was also a cherished value added to the boardroom work. Women boardroom members did, however, strategically plan to make a gender neutral expression in the boards. It is suggested that filling the boardroom chairs with more women might have worked as a catalyst for the parallel process of professionalization of boardroom activities. Is it possible that Norwegian government scrutiny of boardroom equity brought what used to be backstage activities to the fore?
Bjørkhaug, Hilde (2011). Flere kvinner i styrerom. Katalysator for profesjonalisering av styrearbeid? Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning 3/2011199-217.