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Keywords:

  • social justice;
  • structural equality;
  • boards of directors and gender;
  • quotas;
  • computational social science

We propose a concept of structural equality as a compromise between competing policy preferences of equality and individual liberty to address a stunning property of the governance of corporations, namely, the paucity of female directors on corporate boards. An argument for imposing a quota for women directors on boards is the need to disrupt structural impediments to permit endogenous mechanisms to sustain female recruitment beyond a critical mass. Using estimates from the Norwegian experiment, we apply an agent-based model to American board data to show that modest numerical quotas generate well-connected networks of women directors who attain equality in their centrality and influence. The analysis demonstrates the utility of computational social science for identifying policies that generate alternative and possible worlds of greater structural equality. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.