Poll: Would you support gender quotas for Ireland's company boards?

The government today unveiled a plan to increase the number of female professors.

By Peter Bodkin Editor, Fora

THE GOVERNMENT HAS unveiled plans to create up to 45 female-only professor roles in Irish universities to increase the low representation of women in the senior academic roles.

It has set a target that 40% of professorships will be held by women by 2024, up from the current figure of 24% – although it stopped short of introducing a strict gender quota.

Meanwhile in Ireland’s corporate ranks, the imbalance between men and women is even more pronounced. According to recent research from consultancy firm Korn Ferry, only 13% of board members at Irish listed companies last year were women.

That was significantly down on the EU-wide average of 23%. Several European countries have already introduced gender quotas for boards. The first, Norway, specified in 2003 that 40% of all directors for listed companies had to be female.

Advocates of the measures argue firms with greater diversity in their board and executive ranks outperform those dominated by men, and that quotas are necessary to overhaul the status quo.

But critics say mandatory quotas could lead to less-qualified candidates being given board positions while leaving a risk that women appointed to a seat to fill a quota may be as less ‘legitimate’ in their roles.

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With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Would you support gender quotas for Ireland’s company boards?