The OR Society's Annual Conference

University of Warwick  | 13 - 15 September 2022



Panel discussion and reception: 

Gender Quotas: Is it Time?

Tuesday 13 September 6.00pm-7.00pm
(followed by a reception 7.00pm-7.45pm)

Not enough women? or too many men?

In 2010, London School of Economics research influenced the UK Government decision to reject quotas for women in company boardrooms. But in 2015, the London School of Economic Commission on Gender, Inequality and Power took the opposite position, in its report on Confronting Gender Inequality Confronting Gender Inequality - blue (lse.ac.uk)  This reviewed gender inequalities in the economy, politics, law and the media, and recommended, amongst other things,  that "mandatory quotas be introduced to ensure greater gender balance in decision making positions" . It elaborated: "Quotas backed by legislation are one of the most significant ways of effecting change; they are more effective than soft company initiatives and help ensure that society and firms reflect diverse ideas and talents. Existing legislation allows gender to be used as a tie-breaker in recruitment and promotions decision-making where merit is equal. Quotas represent a “minimal condition” for securing change. Presence alone is not sufficient, policies and practices cannot be presumed from gender identity. Gender-equitable policies need to be practised throughout an organisation to effect change, and support for senior women is necessary to prevent quotas from becoming a revolving door for women."

Possibly not for the first time, the LSE recommendations have been ignored. Mandatory quotas have not been introduced in the UK, and men remain over-represented in most positions of power in society, including Professors in OR, and Heads of OR and Analytics groups in industry. Would the introduction of quotas change that? Would the benefits be worth the difficulties? Are the practical difficulties insurmountable, or merely details that are readily overcome with a bit of creative thinking and determination? Would it be divisive, or, as analysis of quotas in Swedish politics discovered, turn out to be a welcome way of rooting out mediocrity? And is 'gender' the only characteristic worthy of quotas?

The Women in OR and Analytics Network is hosting a panel at OR64, on the topic Gender Quotas: Is It Time? exploring some of these questions. We hope you'll join us, whatever your gender, to broaden your own ideas on the topic and contribute your own perspective.

The panel discussion will be followed by a drinks reception for all attendees, where you can continue the debate, or change the subject and just take the opportunity for friendly and welcoming networking. 


M. Grazia Speranza is professor of Operations Research at the University of Brescia, where she served as Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business and Deputy Rector.  She has been President of EURO (association of European Operational Research Societies), President of the TSL (Transportation Science and Logistics) society of INFORMS, and is currently serving on the Board of IFORS (Federation of the Operational Research Societies) where she is Past President. In 2019 she was awarded with the Laurea Honoris Causa from the University of Freiburg, Switzerland.

Grazia is a member of the Board of Directors of A2A, a multi-utility company and the 15th largest Italian company. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of ‘Fondazione Marta Nocivelli’ and ‘Fondazione Comunità Bresciana’.

Helen Sanson is the founder of Forcera CIC, a not-for-profit consultancy offering awareness-based system thinking expertise to organisations to develop, through learning, new ways of thinking and seeing the emerging future of their operations and the complex societal issues they tackle through co-creation. For the past five years she has been working with third sector partners as a consultant, where she focuses on learning, strategy and capacity building. Previously, Helen spent seven years in public sector, arts and education communications management before moving into teaching and education where for twenty years she has worked across various sectors.

Helen is currently an Associate Lecturer for the OU’s Systems Thinking in Practice MSc module and freelance associate for the awarding body OCR.

Katherine Kent is National Accounts Lead for Household Expenditure and Income at the UK Government’s Office for National Statistics. Alongside her main responsibilities leading statistical outputs, she has been head of profession for OR since 2015 (joint head since 2022), and in that capacity has grown the profession to 60 OR analysts and led on designing and overseeing career pathways, development and standards for analysts at ONS.

Katherine is the incoming Chair of the Women in OR and Analytics Network.

Konstantinos (Kostas) Nikolopoulos is Professor in Business and Information Systems and Analytics at Durham University Business School, and is the current Chair of the UK’s Committee of Professors in OR. He is on the editorial board of several major journals, and currently co-investigator in two major research grants.

Previously he was Professor of Business Analytics/Decision Sciences at Bangor University, where hecompleted three tenures as the College Director of Research (Associate Dean for Research and Impact) for the College of Business, Law, Education, and Social Sciences (2011-2018). Before that, he was Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Decision Sciences at the University of Manchester, a Senior Research Associate at Lancaster University and the CTO of the Forecasting and Strategy Unit (www.fsu.gr) in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the National Technical University of Athens (1996-2004).

Ruth Kaufman will be chairing this year's discussion . 

Ruth is currently chair of the events sub-committee of WORAN, chair of the EURO Practitioners’ Forum, and chair of the OR Pro Bono Steering Group, and holds a number of other non-OR roles. Past roles include President of the OR Society, Chair of the Government OR Service, Chair of the Heads of OR Forum, and head of profession for OR at ECGD.

Our drinks reception is kindly sponsored by JGA. The JGA Group is a well-established training organisation offering management-focused transformation-oriented apprenticeships, including Operational Research Specialist and Systems Thinking Practitioner (both masters-degree equivalent).

JGA received the 2021 Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Promoting Opportunity and in 2020 were named the BAME Apprenticeship Awards Provider of the Year.

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