Random chats with startup founders at the conference showed that women have mixed views on quotas. Shadia Saba, a founder from Thailand, likes the concept. ”There’s a million people who have the same qualities, business skills, that they are looking for,” she said. “So if they have all the smart people, and they can choose to hire 50 women and 50 men, that’s better than hiring 100 men and 1 woman.”

“If we are fighting for the same rights, you can’t differentiate,” said Carla Pereira, a startup founder from Portugal, opting against quotas.

Lilian Mak, a product manager with Shopline, a Hong Kong-based e-commerce platform startup, is on the fence. “I’m not against it… but I don’t think it’s a must-have.” Maks says Shopline’s gender ratio among its two dozen employees in Hong Kong is 50-50 because the firm hired “the right people who happen to be women.”

It’s difficult for startup founders to take gender diversity into account, but venture capital funds should wield their power to influence them to do so, said Telle Whitney, president of the Anita Borg Institute, an American nonprofit founded to advance women in the tech business.

As for established firms, Whitney said, diversity hiring goals tied with executives’ bonuses have been proven successful. The next step could be gender quotas.  “When you are trying to overcome a built-in bias, quotas get you over that hump,” she said.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.