Dilemmas in the Danish Approach to Gender Equality: Gender Equality without Gender Quota

Research output: Working paperResearchpeer-review


The paper addresses the dilemmas, contradictions and paradoxes in the Danish approach to gender quotas and gender equality and discusses the intersections of citizenship, democracy and gender justice. Gender research understands gender quota as a means to achieve equal rights, gender equality and gender parity. Gender theory has conceptualized gender parity as one step towards achieving gender justice in all arenas of social, political and economic life. The Danish cases illustrate that context matters and question gender quota as a universal strategy to achieve gender equality. The empirical focus of the paper is placed on three arenas: 1) gender quota in political governance; 2) gender quota in parental leave policies; and 3) gender quota in economic governance. The paper is primarily concerned with analyses of Danish discourses and policies in relation to the three policy areas and only to a limited extent addresses the impact of these policies and their implications for lived practice. One issue concerns the paradox of the relatively high female representation in politics without the adoption of gender quotas. A second issue concerns the gap between gender equality policies. Denmark lacks behind the other Scandinavian countries’ discourses and policies about gender quota but in practice the picture is much more complex. A third issue concerns the European perspective. In relation to women’s labour market participation and gender parity in politics Denmark is ahead of other European countries but lacks behind in relation to equal representation on corporate boards.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFlorence
PublisherEuropean University Institute
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2015
SeriesEUI Working Papers


  • political representation
  • discourses
  • economic boards
  • leave policies
  • gender quota

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Dilemmas in the Danish Approach to Gender Equality: Gender Equality without Gender Quota'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this