Gender Quotas and the Myth of ‘Merit’

Women 50:50

Dr. Meryl Kenny, University of Edinburgh 

Bring up the topic of gender quotas and you will face a barrage of well-worn criticisms – they are undemocratic, they discriminate against men, they promote ‘token’ women, and so on. Those who oppose quotas will often claim that of course they would like to see more women in politics, but they would prefer that candidates for political office be chosen on the basis of ‘merit’.  This, they will tell you, is about fairness and objectivity – one should always (to paraphrase Yes Minister) strive to appoint the ‘best man for the job, regardless of sex.’

The underlying assumption here is, of course, that women have less ‘merit’ than men – in other words, that quotas promote inexperienced and unqualified women at the expense of their more meritorious male counterparts. But, there is very little research evidence (either in the UK or…

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The blog of the Gender Politics Research Group, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh - and friends
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