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The Workforce: More women in the boardroom? Europe considers forcing the issue. - by Isabelle de Pommereau

 Christine Lagarde  of the IMF  used to find them "offensive." Now the first female director of the International Monetary Fund sees gender quotas as a necessary, albeit temporary, tool to help women reach top jobs.

“At the end of the day, people will have to be convinced that [women] bring something to the table,” the former French finance minister told the Dublin-based Irish European Movement, an independent, not-for-profit group aimed at enhancing the connection between Ireland and Europe, in March.
Half a century after the European Union’s Treaty of Rome sowed the seeds for gender equality in Europe, Ms. Lagarde’s push for mandatory corporate board quotas for women – which proponents hope will trickle down and improve gender equality throughout workplaces – is gaining momentum, and dividing governments, across the continent.

Last fall, European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding pushed through a proposal for gender quotas for the board of corporations across Europe. Men, she said, continue to dominate top jobs, although women are better educated and the economy needs them. But with German Chancellor Angela Merkel vetoing the idea, whether the 27-member EU Council, the European Union’s legislative body, turns the idea into law this fall remains to be seen.

Law or no law, Reding's initiative has brought the issue of gender equality to the fore of political consciousness in Europe, helping shake old fashioned views of gender roles in Europe’s most conservative societies, including powerhouse Germany. Algimanta Pabedinskienė, the  Lithuanian minister of social security and labor, said the issue would top the agenda of the Lithuanian EU presidency, which started July 1.

Read more: More women in the boardroom? Europe considers forcing the issue. -

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