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Equality: the natural method

This article was first published in the Times of Malta on Saturday 24th December 2011.


An article entitled Women want quotas (December 6), reported gender equality organisations asking Parliament to introduce quotas. I totally disagree with this and I'll explain why.

Quotas go against the very concept of meritocracy. Meritocracy means that whoever is the best suited for an appointment or responsibility, gets it, regardless of his gender, political beliefs, race or sexual orientation, but solely on his merits and competencies. Quotas, on the other hand, eliminate the "regardless of his gender" part. If for example, it happens that the best four candidates for a post are all men, why should they be balanced out by short-listing two men and two women? Likewise, if the best four candidates are women, why should two men replace two more capable women? This happened for example in Malta's nominations for ECHR judge. The Council of Europe ironically called this anti-democratic concept as the "democratic principle of gender balance". What's wrong  if the three most competent judges for the post were men? What would be wrong if the three most competent judges for the post were women? It seems the Council of Europe too is more inclined on balancing statistics than common sense.

Quotas are anti-democratic. If applied to Parliamentary elections, it would mean that male candidates who garner a certain number of votes would not be elected, to make way for female candidates who garner less votes. Does this not contravene the basic principle of democracy: respect to the will of the people? And where would quotas stop? Should we set quotas to balance out also homosexual candidates with heterosexual candidates? Should we balance out candidates who hold a degree with candidates who do not? Should we balance out candidates wearing glasses with those who do not? Should we balance out candidates according to their hair colour as well? Just for the sake of balance and statistical equality? You can already see this being implemented in the elections to the executive of Malta's two main political parties. On each election, valid male candidates who garner more votes than female candidates have to be left out for the sake of balancing women representation.

So why are there much less women in certain posts than man? There could be many contributing factors, pre-dominantly our cultural mentality which yes, must be changed and educated. But there may be other factors too. Right now, 60% of graduates are female. Was this the case up to twenty years ago? No. Right up till the eighties, only around 30% of graduates were female. It would be quite valid to assume that in the current pool of qualified people with reasonable work experience to expect certain posts, there are much more males than females. It therefore stands to reason that there will be more males in certain top posts than females. This trend is already being automatically reversed naturally, and in time, the pool of qualified people will balance out, moreover it will probably consist of more females than males. There's no need for quotas to force it now. It will come naturally, and through merit, not through discrimination.

As for quotas being termed with the oxymoron "positive discrimination", I believe there's no positivity in any form of discrimination. There's either discrimination or equal opportunities. I am all for women having equal opportunities for education and employment, as can be witnessed by the high percentage of female graduates. I am all for women having equal opportunities and rights in elections. That's why they can contest equally with men and on the same alphabetically ordered list. I am all for incentives to help mothers return to work, since they are the gender that can bear children.

But I am not for competent men to make way for less competent women, as much as I am not for competent women to make way for less competent men. Equality is to be sought in opportunities and their availability, not in the resulting statistical outcome. All the outcomes that follow are to be based only on meritocracy and competency, regardless of everything else, including gender, and regardless of statistics.

We are different unique humans, and not numbers.

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