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Davos Needs More Women Delegates: WEF

The World Economic Forum called for its strategic partners to send more women to its summit in Davos at the end of the month, but many companies aren't playing ball with the quota, according to a published report.

WEF announces last week that it would require its around 100 "strategic partners" -- comprising many of the world's top firms -- to include one woman among their five delegates to the meeting which starts on January 26.

"There are so few women heads of state, CEOs. This is an attempt to nudge toward gender parity in terms of participation," Saadia Zahidi, who heads the WEF's women leaders and gender parity groups, told Reuters.

But organizers also confirmed that one in three of the strategic partners are sending a female delegate, eFinancialNews reported Monday. As partners sending just four delegates are exempt from the quota, it means companies are sending either fewer delegates or ignoring the rule, the Web site reported.

Deutsche Bank will not be sending a woman to Davos, but as one of its five delegates, CEO Josef Ackermann, gets special dispensation as vice chairman of WEF's foundation board, it's not technically in breach, eFinancialNews said.

A Turbo Boost to GDP Ignored?

In a WEF report on the corporate gender gap late last year, Zahidi said many leading companies were failing to capitalize on the talents of women in the workforce.

The report also cited research which showed that closing the male-female employment gap could boost U.S. economic growth by as much as 9 percent and the euro zone by up to 13 percent.

The decision generated chatter in the blogosphere, with some arguing that it was nothing more than political correctness, but other seeing it as a much-needed step to more equal participation in the economic forum.

"Female progress in the workplace has moved at a glacial pace since the height of the women’s movement 40 years ago, especially in the industries represented in the Alps each January," Jesse Ellison wrote in The Daily Beast.

Fortune's Duff McDonald said "it's a pretty sorry state of affairs when world economic leaders are running their annual meeting invite-list like a grade school gym class kickball team-selection process (one girl per team on the field at all times!). On the other hand, maybe something had to be done."

McDonald also proposed the controversial idea that women were too smart to attend the annual event because they were less interested in preening than their male counterparts.

-- Reuters contributed to this report