Norway Shatters Its Glass Ceiling

Nation requires 40% of big companies' boards to be female
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2008 5:44 PM CST
Oslo, is seen by night in this undated file photo. Norway has set a new global record, the highest proportion of female non-executive directors in the world at 40%, largely aided by the introduction of...   (
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(Newser) – A state-mandated shattering of Norway's glass ceiling is drastically changing gender balance in boardrooms there—and not without some resistance, the Guardian reports. A law that 40% of non-executive board directorships at larger firms must go to women went into effect Feb. 22—and though a dozen Norwegian companies failed to fill the quota, an astounding 451 out of 463 did.

Norway now leads the world for its proportion of female board directors, even though women held only 7.1% of such positions in 2002. Numerous CEOs raised the usual objections to affirmative action, but a shrewd framing of the argument as capitalizing on unused talent in the population—and the threat of stiff punishment for non-compliance—seems to have done the trick.