Quotas for Men? Reframing Gender Quotas as a Means of Quality Control
25 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 22 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
Although Carver (1996) reminds us that “gender is not a synonym for women,” gender quotas are too often synonymous with quotas for women. This paper challenges this assumption, arguing that quotas should focus not only on increasing the presence of groups that are under-represented, but also on reducing the presence of those who are over-represented, in the interests of quality control. Women politicians are required repeatedly to justify their presence, even when their numbers are disproportionately low, through proving that they are sufficiently qualified and competent. Women are also expected to deliver added value as substantive representatives of women. Yet men are rarely expected to justify their presence or their credentials; the presumption of meritocracy endures even when ongoing scandals and democratic malaise indicate that the status quo is failing. This paper advocates extending the burden of proof towards men. Enforcing a 50% quota for men will lead to increased scrutiny of men's credentials, winnowing out the weaker politicians and resulting in an improved quality of representation. It will also encourage clearer criteria for what constitutes a "good" politician so that men and women can be held to the same standards, while challenging the stigma of being a "quota woman." Quotas for men re-open the debate about what it means to represent, and propose a new research agenda exploring the substantive representation of men.
Keywords: Quotas, men, representation, meritocracy, qualifications, interests, women
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