The Untold Story of Gender Quota Effects in Iceland

  • Inga Minelgaite
  • Svala Guðmundsdóttir
  • Árelía E. Guðmundsdóttir
  • Olga Stangej
Part of the Contributions to Management Science book series (MANAGEMENT SC.)


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.”


Gender quota Gender equality Gender diversity Iceland 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inga Minelgaite
    • 1
  • Svala Guðmundsdóttir
    • 1
  • Árelía E. Guðmundsdóttir
    • 1
  • Olga Stangej
    • 2
  1. 1.University of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Institute of Quality Management and Business Administration (IQB-FHS)FHS St. Gallen, University of Applied SciencesSt. GallenSwitzerland

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