Repost: It may surprise some of you, but I’m not the most politically correct of people. However, there is one issue where I am quite lefty, and that is on the issue of requiring, by law, that 40% of all seats in the Dail be reserved for men, and 40% for women.
Oh sure, I’ve heard the opposing arguments before. Seats should be filled on merit! It doesn’t matter if 100% of TDs are women, provided they are all good! But why is it that we’ve never had 100% women. Or 75%. or 50%, or even 25%? Opponents of quotas say that it will leave us with poor quality TDs. Why? Is it that we don’t have 83 talented women in the country? Or is it that Fianna Fail or Fine Gael do not have 44 really talented women? As it happens, I’ve tended to find FF and FG women to be, on balance, smarter than FF or FG men, but terrified of showing it. As for the argument that it will make some women TDs feel like second class TDs, we can solve that by having a quota for men too. And by the way, I don’t think the current Dail is in any position to be lecturing people about quality.
Our system is essentially family unfriendly, which means women unfriendly, and that’ll only change when enough women are in the Dail to make the issue matter.
As for the argument that we need to change other things first, like childcare and the culture, my problem with that point is that we have been making it for 30 years and it hasn’t worked, whereas quotas, over night, will. A new Dail elected with a gender quota will have at least 40% of its membership being women, whilst the culture argument could go on for years without actually getting results. That’s where the anti-quota people always fall: they can’t guarantee a better result. Quotas can. Just ask the PSNI. Are there some rubbish Catholic coppers in the North? Probably. Does the PSNI have more cross community support than the RUC? Definitely.
Here’s my final point: where’s the harm in trying quotas? What’s the worst that can happen? We end up with some rubbish female TDs? So what? We already have plenty of rubbish male TDs and no one in the political establishment is trying to get them out.