Jan Logie

Quotas for women

by Jan Logie

I don’t meant to be picking on the Minister of Women’s Affairs, but these quotes can’t be left without a response:

“Women’s Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew criticised the quota, saying people should be selected on their merit.

“What really bothers me about this is New Zealand has got an amazing history of women who have been in amazing positions – chief justice, governors-general, we’ve also had prime ministers,” she told Radio New Zealand.

“I think it demeans them for any suggestion that women should be there because the time is right for a women. They were there because of their merit.”

National was satisfied with the number of women in its caucus, 25 percent, but introducing quotas was not the right way to increase it, Goodhew said. “

I suspect the satisfied in the last sentence is a typo but even still what gets me about this contrasting quotas with merit is that it completely ignores discrimination and gender bias.

There is a wealth of evidence that shows entrenched gender bias is a reality. This article demonstrates it in the sciences:

“To test scientist’s reactions to men and women with precisely equal qualifications, the researchers did a randomized double-blind study in which academic scientists were given application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position. The substance of the applications were all identical, but sometimes a male name was attached, and sometimes a female name.

Results: female applicants were rated lower than men on the measured scales of competence, hireability, and mentoring (whether the scientist would be willing to mentor this student). Both male and female scientists rated the female applicants lower.”

If the Minister of Women’s Affairs doesn’t recognise gender bias then we really are in trouble.

I’m not saying quotas are necessarily the answer but it makes sense that they should be considered as a response to bias let alone historical discrimination. They’ve worked really well for us in the Green party.

There’s plenty of evidence that gender balance in governance leads to better governance and I can testify to that from my experience in the Green Caucus.

Published in Justice & Democracy | Society & Culture by Jan Logie on Fri, July 5th, 2013   

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