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Top women support gender quota in boardrooms but men do not

About half the women look at quota systems as a way to fix stubborn gender imbalances in boardrooms, but their male counterparts do not agree, with less than 10% of them sharing the view, suggests a recent study.

sex and relationships Updated: Apr 22, 2016 10:31 IST
Reuters
Gender Disparity

Female directors are also more likely than men to approve of term limits and mandatory retirement ages to change corporate board membership, says a recent survey.(Shutterstock)

About half the women look at quota systems as a way to fix stubborn gender imbalances in boardrooms, but their male counterparts do not agree, with less than 10% of them sharing the view, suggests a recent study.

Female directors are also more likely than men to approve of term limits and mandatory retirement ages to change corporate board membership, said the survey by researchers from the Harvard Business School and the Women Corporate Directors (WCD) Foundation.

Asked how they arrived in their board appointments, 39% of women said their gender was a significant factor. Just 1% of men said the same, revealed the survey released on Wednesday.

Read: India must close the gender gap and make every woman count

Men and women were also divided on the reasons that female board membership remains low, said the survey, which culled responses from over 4,000 male and female directors from 60 nations.

Male directors, particularly older men, say there is a “lack of qualified female candidates,” it said.

But female directors say diversity is not a board priority and traditional networks tend to be male-dominated, it said.

“It’s often hard to see an informal ‘network’ if you are in the middle of it, but you can see it very clearly when you’re on the outside,” WCD chairwoman Susan Stautberg said in a statement.

Male directors think there is a lack of qualified female candidates for top positions. Female directors, however, blame fewer female leaders on the lack of diversity in boardrooms. (Shutterstock)

Forty-nine percent of female directors supported quotas to promote board diversity, compared to 9% of male directors.

Women younger than 55 were more likely than older women to support such quotas, the survey said.

Women hold one in eight corporate board seats worldwide, according to research by the global consulting firm Deloitte, which analysed board membership in 49 nations.

Read: Does India really have gender equality? Story in numbers

Board quotas have been set up in several European nations, and a European Commission proposal seeks to make 40% of corporate boards female in the next four years.

Among women, more than 40% favor government regulations that require boards to disclose the steps they are taking to promote diversity, while just 14% of male directors agree, the research by Harvard and WCD found.

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