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Influencing Elite Opinion on Gender Equality through Framing: A Survey Experiment of Elite Support for Corporate Board Gender Quotas

  • Mari Teigen (a1) and Rune Karlsen (a2)

Abstract

This article contributes to both the scholarly debates on the controversies over gender quotas and the body of knowledge on framing effects through an investigation of whether national elites, individuals in top positions across 10 sectors of Norwegian society, are susceptible to positive framing of corporate board gender quotas (CBQs). Elites are thought to be more resistant to framing, and their predispositions are found to be stronger and more consistent than those of the general public. However, few, if any, studies have empirically investigated framing effects on national elites. We report on an experiment embedded in a comprehensive survey of Norwegian national elites. The results clearly indicate that elites are susceptible to framing. When exposed to frames highlighting both male dominance among the business elite and the success of CBQs in achieving gender balance on corporate boards, elites were significantly more likely to support gender quotas. Framing effects were primarily found among men, not women, and contrary to expectation, effects were stronger among the business elite. Thus, we should direct our attention to how the framing of issues also influences key stakeholders, and policy makers should consider opposition to gender equality measures as something that has the propensity to change.

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References

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