The Surprising Glass Ceiling in Sweden and France

Do You Believe in “Pink Quotas?”

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Jun 7, 2012    •    912 Views

Italy has just declared its “pink quota.”

A new law mandates that by 2015, women should be one-third of all board members for listed and Italian state-owned firms. Currently, the total is somewhere between 3.7 and 6%. (Checking 2 sources, I found different statistics.)

Looking at how Australia and France have raised female board presence, which approach do you favor? Here are some facts:


  • Legislative incentives.
  • Mandated diversity policy reporting.
  • Female board membership up by 5.3% from 2009-2011.
  • Currently at 13.8%.
  • A formal mentoring program is bringing female candidates to boards’ attention.



  • Legislative fiat.
  • Female board membership has skyrocketed by 7.5% from 2009-2011.
  • Currently at 16.6%.
  • Mandated to rise to 40% by 2016.


Here are some interesting statistics from Catalyst, a group that gathers information about women:

Women on the Board (countries at the top of a 44 country list):

Country % Board Seats Held By Women
Norway 40.1
Sweden 27.3
Finland 24.5
United States 16.1


Women on the Board (countries at the bottom a 44 country list):

Country % Board Seats Held By Women
Japan 0.9
United Arab Emirates 0.8
Qatar 0.3
Saudi Arabia 0.1

A note: On the 44 country list, at #34, Italy is close to the bottom.

At first, I learned about Italy’s “pink quota” in a WSJ article. Here though, is the best report I accessed about women on corporate boards and the source of some statistics while the others came from Catalyst, a research organization that focuses on women. For further discussion on occupational and wage gender gaps, you could go to these econlife posts here and here.

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