The World Economic Forum announced seven co-chairs for its next summit in Davos, and not a single man made the cut.
Seven women will helm the next gathering of the global elite, as sure a sign as any that we are living through a watershed moment in perceptions of gender and power dynamics.
The forum, held in the posh Swiss resort of Davos every January, has in recent years been criticized as much for its gender imbalance as for its elitism. At its most recent gathering, women accounted for just over 20% of the 3,000 participants—a record for the event—and that was after the organizers offered special incentives to delegations that included at least one woman.
The 2018 co-chairs were announced with no special fanfare. Rather than drawing attention to the all-female makeup of the group, the World Economic Forum simply listed the women’s names and affiliations and attested to the “multi-stakeholder approach” they would take in shaping the meeting’s program around the official theme of “Creating a shared future in a fractured world.”
The 2018 co-chairs are:
- Sharan Burrow, general-secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, headquartered in Belgium
- Fabiola Gianotti, director-general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva
- Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE, a French energy company
- Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund
- Ginni Rometty, chairman, president, and CEO of IBM
- Chetna Sinha, founder and chair of the Mann Deshi Foundation in India
- Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway
Forum co-chairs give input on programming and are usually prominent participants on stage at the event. This past January, female co-chairs for the annual meeting outnumbered the male co-chairs three to two, and the group was evenly split the year prior.
But you don’t have to go back very far to find a year when men far outnumbered women among the co-chairs. There was only one woman among the six co-chairs for 2013.
The 2018 annual meeting in Davos will be held from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26. Quartz will be there (with a gender-balanced delegation) to cover the proceedings.