Calls for gender quotas

Thoughts Topical

Gender quotas are the requirement that women should form a particular percentage of the sample of individuals under consideration: organisations or businesses must employ a certain percentage of female employees, or appoint a certain number of women on their board of directors; political parties must ensure that a proportion of their candidates are women, and legislatures must set aside a certain percentage of seats for female representatives.

Gender quotas are currently illegal in the UK because of claims of reverse discrimination against men (ie. that less-qualified women will get the job just because they are women).

However, there has recently been a lot of coverage in the media about the possibility of introducing gender quotas to increase diversity and female representation in high-status jobs.  For example:

  • An LSE report states that quotas should be mandatory across business sectors in Britain, as well as in political parties.
  • Others have called for them in the judiciary, because on 24% of judges are women.  However, one supreme court justice says that it would be unfair to men.

One amazing finding is that companies perform less effectively when they have male-only boardrooms – in the UK, they lose up to $74billion of profit compared to boards with at least one female executive (Lagerberg, 2015).

The next couple of posts will analyse why gender quotas could have both positive and negative effects, based on psychological theory and research.  So stay tuned!