Gender Quotas After the End of Men
24 Pages Posted: 1 May 2013 Last revised: 3 Jun 2013
Date Written: April 29, 2013
Those who proclaim "the end of men" predict that it is only a matter of time before women are employed at higher rates than men, earning more than men, and exercising more power than men. This tale of gender role reversal is fraught with normative ambivalence. On the one hand, the rise of women that accompanies the end of men appears to be a feminist utopia. Others may view the new gender gap, in which men are disadvantaged relative to women, as a new moral problem, a dystopia requiring social – if not legal – intervention. In many jurisdictions around the world, women’s past and current disadvantage is regarded as an injustice that must be corrected by various measures, including antidiscrimination law, affirmative action, and even gender quotas requiring that men and women be roughly equally represented in leadership positions. Will gender justice require – or even permit – gender parity quotas after the end of men? This contribution to the Symposium on "The End of Men" engages this question by contrasting the constitutionalization in recent years of gender quotas in France with the concurrent drive to end university gender quotas in Sweden. In France, gender balance is regarded as an enduring and permanently desirable feature of all just institutions. In Sweden, gender quotas were retired after they began to limit the number of women admitted to university programs. If the end of men does not amount to the oppression of men, is there anything unjust or normatively undesirable about allowing women to surpass men in income, employment, and power? Focusing on Swedish developments, this paper suggests that gender quotas may be wise after the end of men as a safeguard against new and unknown forms of gender subordination.
Keywords: gender equality, quotas, university admissions, comparative law, Sweden, feminist theory
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation