Only 5% of the 500 CEOs on the 2018 Fortune 500 list are women, a mere 24 out of 500. (A decrease from an all-time high of 32 in 2017.) Despite diversity initiatives in companies, gender representation remains a persistent problem in leadership and in the workforce in general. Research shows that employers still lean toward hiring and promoting men over women. To counteract this tendency, tools like quotas can increase female representation in industries and positions where they are underrepresented.
Below, we’ve curated a collection of our best research and insights on this subject.
The debate about quotas
Because of this sluggish progress toward gender equality, organizations and policymakers are increasingly considering the possibility of implementing quotas, particularly at the level of board directors, to achieve gender parity. Quotas, it is argued, would jump-start the process of achieving equal representation. Yet, the idea of imposing quotas on employers–even only at the level of the board of directors–has been met with resistance. As a result, quotas have remained shrouded in controversy about their expected benefits and potential pitfalls. Leading scholars gathered to debate this question during the Gender and the Economy Research Roundtable held at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
The Brief: Do gender quotas really work?
This explainer is based on our Oxford-style debate on the effectiveness of gender quotas hosted by GATE in 2017.