There is no place for quotas in an equal society

The HeForShe movement has gained much traction over the past week, particularly after Emma Watson’s speech. And for a while it all sounded very good. Both men and women need to get involved, that being anti-men was unacceptable, and that we need true equality. But then that dreaded six-letter word reared its ugly head again. Quotas.

The apparent solution to gender inequality is to enhance the prospects of one gender over another. The hypocrisy is quite astounding, yet unsurprising for we have come to expect it. The anti-male woman and the self-hating man now believe that the only way to boost women’s chances in the workplace is through regulation.  If we can’t promote equality, it must be forced.

A quote from the great Austrian School economist Friedrich  Hayek is rather appropriate: “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal”.

A buzz phrase you quite  often hear is “equal opportunities”. Something I could not agree with more. No matter what your gender is, your race, your sexuality, or your creed, you should not be discriminated on those grounds.

Yet neither should they ever aid you when it comes to employment. The idea that we would rather see a government or a boardroom made up of equal representation rather than those best to do the job is simply ludicrous.

Whatever happened to meritocracy? Should a better qualified male not get the job because it is required to go to a woman? Or vice-versa for that matter. Are we prepared to see meritocracy and true equality thrown out the window for this nonsense?

Apparently so. The Conservative government recently produced a junior minister shoe-horned in through quotas that didn’t know the difference between the national debt and the national deficit!

Meanwhile Labour have been supporting all-women quotas when it comes to choosing parliamentary candidates. Where in order to achieve “equality”, all potentials to become the party’s candidate for a constituency must be women. Sheer lunacy, although perhaps if there were all-men quotas elsewhere it may work. Of course, there aren’t!

More importantly, the suggestion that we require quotas to enhance women’s opportunities in the workplace is completely disrespectful, as well as unhelpful to women. If quotas are advocated then there will always be the elephant in the room that a woman may be there because of her gender rather than her credentials. And I can’t think of any self-respecting woman who would want that.

Did Margaret Thatcher need a quota to make her Prime Minister? No. Did the CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty need a quota? No. I could go on but that would be demeaning. The fact is that if a woman is good enough for a job then she doesn’t need a quota to help her get there.

Looking on the flip side how far do we go with these quotas? Should 50% of midwifes now be male? Should 50% of builders now be female? Once you open the can of worms the drive to further regulation is irreversible.

What many of these feminist movements do is promote equal representation for women in areas where they are under represented with no consideration to anything else. A huge oversight, for there are many departments where women take the lions share of jobs.

In a free market there are areas where women will be over represented, others where they are equally represented, and some where they are under represented. This is healthy for an economy. We should not be trying to regulate to achieve some sort of utopian equality that nobody in sane mind would ever want. Not to mention that preventing an economy to allocate its resources in the most efficient way is economics from the madhouse. Something that can never be afforded, not least in these economic times.

Is this to say we don’t have a problem? Probably not. There is rife gender inequality, particularly in the third world. Of course we should be promoting the idea that men and women should be treated equally. No one should be discriminated by their gender. But going back to Hayek, there is a hell of a lot of difference between promoting equality and forcing it.

We have a problem when a woman is not given the opportunity to succeed. And this is what organisations like HeForShe should – and for a large part to their credit – have been focussing on. Yet by advocating quotas I feel I can’t really support them.

There is an issue here and of course it needs addressing. I’m not the one with all of the solutions but I would like to see a scenario where both men and women are given equal opportunities across the world for whatever job they choose. As a libertarian I look past discriminators, I want the best person for the job.

The HeForShe movement is by and large doing a good job. Far better than the pesky left-wing, man-hating Feminist Initiative that thankfully fell below the 4% threshold in the recent Swedish Elections. They once advocated a man tax for those unaware.

A true equality movement is needed though. One that doesn’t revolve around the dreaded quotas that if not proudly promoted, are always hidden in the small print. I would argue we could all benefit from a little bit of libertarianism.

Something I find very unlikely since the government have never really been keen on keeping their noses out of peoples lives, and when citizens comply to being slaves of the system.


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