Athena Swan

Athena Swan promotes and supports the careers of women in Science, Engineering and Technology (STEM), and aims to address gender inequalities and imbalance in these disciplines and, in particular, the under-representation of women in senior roles.

Monday, 8 December 2014

In the news - Boardroom Quotas Won't Help Women

One of the many ideas put forth for raising the proportion of underrepresented groups is a quota system, or the mandatory hiring of one group over another. Aside from emphasising characteristics most would consider irrelevant to their ability to do the job (gender, skin colour, nationality, etc.), and taking away the ability of an employer to hire the best candidate for the position, there is a very strong risk that people hired under these rules will be viewed as 'less able' by their colleagues (a criticism frequently levelled at affirmative action programmes in the States). With Germany now passing a law that at least 30% of non-executive boardrooms must be female after 2016, concerns are being raised that it will backfire spectacularly - and other countries should pay heed.

Germany’s coalition government adopted a draft law two weeks ago requiring corporations to allocate at least 30 percent of supervisory board positions to women, starting in 2016. The bill will go to Parliament on Thursday and is widely expected to pass.
Yet those cheering this decision as a major coup should hold the schnapps. Although the quota may somewhat improve corporate diversity in Europe’s leading economy, there is little reason to think it will make any real difference for German women.

Carrie Lukas, NY Times, 7 December 2014
Read more here.

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