My warm thanks to the six supporters and donors who came out on a chilly evening last Tuesday to attend Dr Jude Browne’s talk on quotas for corporate boards at Cambridge University. It was predictably dreary stuff, and I didn’t detect so much as one sentence suggesting that differences in gender outcomes might be (even in part) the result of gender-typical choices. Her ‘solution’ to the gender ‘problem’ on boards was to have major companies monitor gender balance at every level, and where there was an apparent failure of one gender to advance, the company would be required to justify it. She specifically mentioned the layer beneath the corporate board. If implemented it would be at considerable cost to companies, but on the bright side it would doubtless provide employment for thousands of professional feminists.
The Q&A session lasted only 15 minutes but I managed to introduce myself to the audience (about 200 people, I’d say), said a few words about J4MB and C4MB, and made the point that I could scarcely believe a talk could be given on the topic in question without mentioning Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory.
I then asked Dr Browne the question we sent her in an email almost two weeks ago. Her lips pursed at this point, I’m pleased to report. We’d sent her the evidence showing that increased female representation on boards leads to corporate performance decline, then posed this question:
If the evidence shows that increasing female representation on boards leads to corporate financial decline, would that be a price worth paying?
She may be a political theorist but her reply was worthy of the most evasive politician. She spoke for two or three minutes, and still didn’t answer the question. I put my hand up to ask it again but wasn’t given the opportunity by the (male) Pro Vice Chancellor who was chairing the meeting.
Afterwards we managed to hand out about 100 flyers:
A substantial number of women (and a few men) who looked like they’d been sucking on lemon slices refused to accept the document.