Greens on gender balance in Cabinet

The Greens have launched a campaign for gender balance in Parliament and in any future Cabinet that they will be a part of.

Co-leader James Shaw put out this media release this morning:

Greens will ensure gender balance in Cabinet

James Shaw MP on Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Green Party is today announcing that, in Government, it will ensure half of all Green Cabinet Ministers are women, and will call on other members of any coalition Government it is involved in to do the same.

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw announced to the CTU conference in Wellington today that the Green Party would put gender equality at the heart of any Government it is involved in, starting with equal representation in Cabinet.

“Our hope is that by leading by example, and ensuring gender equality at the Cabinet table, the Green Party can stimulate and support a wave of gender equity reforms for women who work,” Mr Shaw said.

“Just 30 percent of Cabinet positions are currently held by women, and only 32 per cent of MPs in Parliament are women. If political parties are serious about ensuring women across all workplaces are paid more and given the opportunity to take on senior roles, then political parties should start by getting their own houses in order.

“A Government with 70 percent of its Ministers men isn’t good for women and it isn’t good for New Zealand.

Ideally it would be good to generally see an approximate balance, but it’s more complicated than just insisting on equal numbers. Putting people onto party lists and putting MPs into Cabinet because of their gender alone is a bad approach.

Sure about 30% female MPs and female Ministers looks lower than it should be.

But I’d be interested in knowing what women overall think about this? Many women may be happy that men take more than 50% of the roles in Parliament and Cabinet. If not then more women should make sure that a better quality of female candidate and female MP is promoted.

“The idea that people are paid on merit, or appointed to senior roles like Government Ministers based on their abilities, doesn’t stack up. Women are paid less largely because they’re working in professions that are dominated by women, and they’re often not appointed to senior positions because of barriers that have nothing to do with ability.  It’s time to drop the idea that women are worth less once and for all.“Around the world countries are realising that gender inequality is holding them back and they’re committing to greater representation by women in many positions of power in business and politics.

“There are at least 28 countries which have a greater proportion of women in cabinet than New Zealand, including France, Canada, Germany, Israel and South Africa.

“By committing to a gender balance in Cabinet, the Green Party won’t immediately fix the inequalities women are forced to deal with at work every day, but it will show that we are committed to gender equality everywhere, starting with where we work ourselves,” Mr Shaw said.

Gender balance is a good ideal to aspire to but it isn’t a good rule to try and enforce.

And a Radio NZ report shows that not all women agree with the Green quota approach  – ‘You can’t enforce equality’ – executives

…head of Chartered Accountants New Zealand, Kirsten Patterson, said forcing the hand of employers would not fix anything.

“You can’t say you’ve reached equality if you’ve had to enforce a system for equality to occur,” she said.

“We’ll only truly get to equality if the systems are changed to the extent that people are appointed on merit across a wide range of characteristics.”

Ms Patterson said the problem went beyond the cliche of the old, sexist white man.

“All of us have unconscious bias and in some circumstances, female senior executives show a stronger predetermination towards male candidates,” she said. “Areas where organisations make a hard approach and commit to doing work in this space and backing it up with actions are where we think we can make the difference.”

And even Jacinda Ardern is cautious:

“Our starting point has always been making sure we’ve got the women who are in the position to move up the ranks. That goes right down to the women who are office holders, and then coming through the ranks into Parliament,” she said.

“Once you’re in Parliament, then obviously you’re reliant on your caucus and your leader enforcing a meritocracy.”

This is another case of a Green ideal that has some merit but not necessarily being practical, especially immediately.

I haven’t seen evidence that women in general want this.

Leave a comment

21 Comments

  1. kittycatkin

     /  15th October 2015

    I finf it insulting, If I can’t achieve on merit, I shouldn’t be given something like a backward child being given a prize to make it feel good.

    I have known several Ministers, and I wouldn’t have their job for anything-not that it’s likely to be offered to me. The work and the hours-no, thank you !

    Reply
    • kiwi_guy

       /  16th October 2015

      And that is why there is a minority of women in politics and business, they just aren’t that interested.

      Women are the privileged ones – they can have it both ways: demand the right to a “rewarding career” or get married and kick back while he slaves away for the Man.

      Reply
  2. Missy

     /  15th October 2015

    I think any form of quota would do more harm than good in the long run. A little drama queenish I am sure, but in my opinion enforcing this type of quota is in a way another form of suppressing women, by saying they will get a job based on gender and not abilities could possibly lead to some women not really putting in any effort, and therefore will mean that as people and in their profession they really do not push themselves and achieve what they are fully capable of, and they will always be viewed as the ‘poor little woman who got the job based on her gender’ and will never be taken seriously by her peers, superiors or juniors.

    Below is the comment I posted in Open Forum about it.

    “I have just seen an article where James Shaw says that Cabinet should be 50% women! Seriously, have we not been here before with Labour’s ‘Man Ban’? How insulting to women to imply they aren’t good enough to get into cabinet on their own merits, but require getting the position based on their gender. It is patronising and sexist.

    Achieving success based on one’s own hard work, and knowing it was achieved based on your own skills, experience and attributes, and because you are the best person for the job is better for self-esteem and for motivation than being handed a position because of your gender.

    Personally if I got a position based on being a woman, and not based on my skills, experience, and personal attributes, I would feel pretty worthless, and I don’t think it would be any good for physical or mental well being always feeling you have to prove yourself in a job you have been given. I am no psychologist, but I would imagine a person who feels worthless, or out of their depth, in the workplace – whether it is government, private sector, or public service – will not be productive and could be at risk of mental health issues, especially depression. James Shaw’s idiotic idea will not do anything to help women succeed.”

    Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  15th October 2015

    I wonder if they can find any woman to support this policy who has achieved her position on merit rather than her sex?

    Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  15th October 2015

      Probably not. I was seriously offended when it was suggested that an achievement of mine was based upon sex not ability,. What an insult. I was also offneded when someone said that Stirling Moss let my great-aunt win a race that the two of them were in. Of course he didn’t. My great-aunt was racing cars at the great English race tracks from a young age-she didn’t need to be handed a race, as if she was a child . She would have been seriously annoyed to think that anyone would patronise her in that way. It was a woman who said it-and a woman who said that my achievement was because they wanted more women. What sexist rubbish,

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  15th October 2015

        My grandmother was a university lecturer, one sister was a doctor, another was high-ranking civil servant in London, the racing-car driver at one time owned her own garage and later became an executive with General Motors…the other sisters also had good careers (there were 11 children in the family) Nobody handed my grandmother her position as a lecturer or the others their careers, they just took it for granted that they would do what they wanted to do, and did it !

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  15th October 2015

        Not sexist rubbish, kc. Naked and nasty jealousy.

        Reply
        • kittycatkin

           /  16th October 2015

          Not in this case, I think; it was a reflex reaction that women would get in for that reason-to make up the numbers of women-that was the way it was said ! It was insulting because it was automatic, and done to make me feel lucky that I was among those who had been chosen. It would have been more acceptable (nd less ignorant) had it been jealousy !

          Reply
  4. Sponge

     /  15th October 2015

    If they ended up with 60% of their caucus being women/maori/poofs/transvestites/catholics/buddhists and so on would they be saying that 10% should be sacked to fit in with their silly quota?

    Reply
    • kiwi_guy

       /  16th October 2015

      No they wouldn’t, in fact awhile back some man hater in Labour was saying AT LEAST 50% guarantee of female MPs, and if they did better that was a bonus.

      Another example of the Liberal left being hijacked by the Political Lesbians in the last generation or so.

      Reply
  5. jamie

     /  16th October 2015

    I don’t see any problem having this as a goal to aim for. All things being equal it is the outcome we should expect to see anyway.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  16th October 2015

      There is a problem with having it as a goal if it distorts decision-making unfairly.

      Reply
      • jamie

         /  16th October 2015

        I know what you mean, it’s not something I think there needs to be inflexible rules around.

        I do think it’s a good thing to keep an eye on though, and to keep asking the question “why?” There may be perfectly understandable reasons why there are fewer women in cabinet, but there also may be problematic reasons. If you’re not looking and asking the question, it’s difficult to know and to identify potential problems.

        Reply
    • Missy

       /  16th October 2015

      It isn’t a problem for it to be a goal to work towards through gaining experienced and qualified people of both genders, but it should not be a publicly stated intent of what they will be doing. By stating publicly that there will be 50% of women in cabinet in my opinion they run the risk of undermining the authority of any women who may be considered, as many will wonder if the women are there on merit and because they are qualified, or there because they are women.

      As a women, I would feel undermined in my position if I was working in an organisation that publicly stated they wanted a certain percentage of women in particular positions, I would constantly wonder if I got my position because I was the best person for the job, or if it was because I was fulfilling a quota. That is not good for anyone, and a quota like that is, in my opinion, another way of undermining and denigrating women, it says women aren’t good enough and need special treatment. In short, it is a form of sexism.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  16th October 2015

        That it is. Who wants a job like that that they haven’t earned ? It would be like the lowwr marks for Maori and Pasiika university entrants-which sets them up to fail. If I was let into a maths degree course, i would be wasting my time and the lecturers’ time, Giving someone something because of sex or race is not only insulting, it’s doing rhem a disservice, I wouldn’t want a doctor or other professional from a race that was let through at a lower standard than other races. My current GP is a young woman-if I thought that she had been accepted for and passed her degree with marks that would fail a man, I would be looking elsewhere,

        Reply
  6. Brown

     /  16th October 2015

    I just read Dr ben Carson’s book on his life. He encountered a bit of racism (much accidental rather than deliberate) but he did mention that some of his black patients were pretty racist as well. The black’s issue with Carson being black was that they thought he was there because of a quota system (to have a token black guy) rather than merit so would be inferior.

    I guess merit becomes less important when its a political moron pretending to be useful as opposed to someone tampering with your head but I think quality remains important.

    This principle could be important for labour as well as if they need to have a homosexual quota based on % of the population a fair chunk of Labour will be on the dole suddenly.

    Reply
    • kiwi_guy

       /  16th October 2015

      Yes its interesting how only certain demographics get the “special protections” VIP treatment by Progressives.

      Why not legislate to stop discrimination against ugly people? Solid research shows time and time again hot looking guys and girls get more smiles, compliments, gifts, friends, dates, successful job interviews etc than fugly people.

      Isn’t that Hotty privilege? Aren’t fuglies being oppressed by this systemic, unconscious bias?

      And what about height? Just ask shorties about the discrimination.

      Reply
  7. I think its about trying to make it, ‘at least look’ like parliament is actually representative of the population who voted them in.. instead of a ‘Rich BOYS club’ !
    Some of the comments here are frankly: ‘Total hog wash’ !! 😦

    Obviously they are not going to appoint anyone who is totally incompetent or incapable of performing the role.. just to meet their quota. How BLOODY ridiculous :/

    Reply

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