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A woman's place is ... on the board

Get more women on the board or we will shut you down. This is the Norwegian government's stark warning to companies in an attempt to break the glass ceiling holding back female executives.

Like their British counterparts, Norwegian women have had a tough time getting seats at the boardroom table. In Britain, figures from a Guardian survey on executive pay last week showed that less than 10% of directors are female.

In Norway the figure stands at over 15% in private sector firms but in a nation where over a third of MPs and eight out of 19 cabinet ministers are female, it is still a low number.

But that could all be about to change. Last year, the Norwegian parliament passed a bill forcing private firms to have at least 40% women on their boards. Companies had until July to boost participation of their own accord. If the numbers are insufficient, which the state will decide by August 15, sanctions will be applied and they won't just be a slap on the wrist.

"If they don't follow the rules, at the end of the day, they will be dissolved," said Ansgar Gabrielsen, the 50-year-old conservative politician who initiated the law when he was trade and industry secretary.

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