We all know my views on feminism. So when I was watching the news in the gym yesterday, you can imagine my reaction when Edwina Currie and a Labour woman whose name I can’t remember (she clearly had an impact)** turned up to debate the creation of all-female shortlists for parliamentary positions.
No. Let’s just not do that.
I understand that there is a sad lack of equality in numbers between men and women in the UK parliament. According to the piece, 23% of our MPs are women. Which is low. But much as I hate to admit it, I agree with Edwina Currie. Quotas are not the answer. The argument is clear – we should look to pick the best person for the job, and excluding half of the candidates on the spurious basis of gender is not the way for that to happen. There will be an assumption that any woman who gets in via a purposefully all-female shortlist may not be up to the job, and there will be men who will complain of being marginalised. It’s all just a backwards step.
What needs to happen, as with the majority of cases where “feminism” comes into play, is that people need to be educated. Selection committees need to go through training to help them identify any prejudices which they might hold, and help them to productively question them. More women need to be inspired towards applying for positions in parliament because undoubtedly a contributing factor is that it’s still seen as a bit of a boys’ club which undoubtedly puts female candidates off. Other women in parliament need to be educated as well – Edwina Currie pointed out that they can be as much of a barrier as the men.
Ultimately, this is an issue which extends far beyond parliament. This graphic, pulled from a Daily Mail article (I’m so sorry) shows the percentage of women in top positions, and it’s an interesting read. I understand where the demand for all-female shortlists is coming from, but I think it’s entirely the wrong way to cope with the issue. This is yet another example of where some women need to take a step back from their feminist viewpoint and look at the wider picture – marginalising men isn’t improving anything, it’s just changing the problem. Education across the board is the real solution.
**I take the above back. I’m fairly sure it was Luciana Berger. However the internet is giving nothing away, meaning actually I don’t take back the impact thing.