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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens as Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaks during an armchair discussion at the Women in the World Summit in Toronto, Sept. 10, 2018.

GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images

The head of the International Monetary Fund says gender parity is unlikely to be achieved in corporate boardrooms without the use of mandatory quotas.

“I used to think that there should not be quotas but I have massively changed my mind on that,” Christine Lagarde said at the Women in the World summit in Toronto Monday.

Ms. Lagarde added that quotas must be distributed along an organization's hierarchy. That's because there is often a "big difference" between the number of women in lower-ranking positions, which tends to be high, and the number of women at the highest rungs of the corporate ladder.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who joined Ms. Lagarde on a panel, also weighed in on the issue of women's advancement in the work force, calling it "frustrating" that women continue to earn less money than men for work of equal value a decade after various jurisdictions introduced pay-equity legislation.

"We have a lot more to do," Mr. Trudeau said, citing more concrete pay-equity and transparency legislation as examples.

"We’re moving forward with those kinds of things that will eventually move the markers in a significant way," he said. "Because when women are not succeeding to the same level as men, our society is poorer.”

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