The untold story of gender quota effects in Iceland

Inga Minelgaite*, Svala Guðmundsdóttir, Árelía E. Guðmundsdóttir, Olga Stangej

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Following the pioneering movement in Norway, a law requiring the gender quotas to be established on corporate boards was amended in 2010 in Iceland. This event could legitimately be called an uprising in the fight against the shadow of the so-called Octopus—the fourteen patriarchs who in the middle of the twentieth century “were said to control the politics, bureaucracy, judiciary, and economy of Iceland and shared the spoils among themselves” (Kelsey 2016, p. 13; Boyes 2009; Johnson et al. 2013). Whether the Octopus has been slowly reincarnated in corporate boardrooms or instead, it has become a mystical creature wrapped in legends and still remains a valid question. This chapter unveils an untold story on the gender quota effects that was shared by six male board members with long-standing corporate experience. This story could have equally been revealed to either a male or a female interviewer. Yet, it could only be shared once the female board members stepped out of the room. This revelation unfolded in an atmosphere of complete privacy, when male board members, often pre-accused with gender bias, once asked to describe the law on gender quota in one word, put forward all the candor, and stated: “It is biased against males.”

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContributions to Management Science
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameContributions to Management Science
ISSN (Print)1431-1941
ISSN (Electronic)2197-716X

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature.

Other keywords

  • Gender diversity
  • Gender equality
  • Gender quota
  • Iceland


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