Gender equality in Italy: politics, business, and labor

Gender equality in Italy: politics, business, and labor

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Openpolis, a political watchdog in Italy, published a “MiniDossier” that uses data journalism to analyze gender equality in Italy. The main focus of the work is on the distribution of leadership roles between men and women.

Two different topics of interest were taken into consideration: positions in the national government and boards of listed companies, both of which have seen recent debate on whether or not to implement gender quotas.

These examples are quite indicative and relevant, especially because politicians used different methods and instruments to achieve greater equality, obtaining, as we will see, opposite results.

Considering the composition of his government, new President of the Council of Ministers Matteo Renzi announced that his Cabinet was going to achieve full gender equality: half men and half women.

Renzi’s press office gave lots of attentions to this announcement, as if we were witnessing a game changing decision that was made without the pressure of laws or gender quotas.

But how did things actually turn out? Did Renzi manage to keep his promise? A simple graph gives a clear answer: no.


The Government was not formed all on the same day, and different appointments took place throughout several days for the different offices that make up the Cabinet: first the Ministers, then the Vice Ministers, and lastly Under Secretaries. If we also consider members resigning and new ones being appointed during the past months, the initial equality between genders quickly disappeared, with the percentage of women in Government dropping to 27%

The second story – the one that pertains to boards of listed companies – has a different ending. Two members of Parliament managed to successfully work for the approval of a law that imposed gender quotas on the boards of listed companies. Few people actually know their names: Lella Golfo and Alessia Mosca.

It was a bipartisan law that brought together the center-left (Pd) and the center-right (Pdl) of the Italian political spectrum. The law will gradually bring the least represented sex to have at least one third of members on boards of listed companies.


Since the approval of the law in 2011, the percentage of women in boards of listed companies tripled.

All in all, if we wanted to summarize this story, this article could suggest two possible conclusions:

  1. Politicians that work hard are preferable to those who simply make big announcements.
  2. It’s necessary to always verify what politicians promise.

For more analyses on the issue of gender in Italy you can read the MiniDossier “Gender Equality: politics, businesses and labour”. The report was released under a creative commons license that allows for free use with proper citation.


Openpolis is a watchdog working to make Italian politics more transparent. It is completely independent and does not receive any kind of funding from parties, politicians or associations and foundations connected to them. It has created and manages an online network that allows citizens to receive free and ad-less information based on data.

MiniDossier Series

Openpolis publishes a series called “MiniDossier”. Through a data journalism approach its goal is to verify, analyze and compare data from different official sources in order to suggest different point of views and tell different stories. On important issues and topics, such as politics and local finance, documented indexes and innovative indicators are created.

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