ON WOMEN QUOTAS, AND OTHER UNDESERVED COMFORTS

Gerhard Amendt (amendt@uni-bremen.de)
Emeritus Professor, University of Bremen, Germany

Abstract


According to the current political rhetoric, women are prevented from ascending to higher positions through discrimination. If they do manage to participate in the labour market this is celebrated as an emancipatory victory over discriminating men rather than as a result of successful individual female endeavours. Such an assumption implicitly belittles female potential and motivations for joining the work force.

 

Research shows that only 28% of women want to further their career. Among men, in contrast, it is 50%. The desire for professional change generally seems to be less pronounced among women than among men, which has given rise to the well-established division of labour between the sexes. This enduring state cannot be changed by state intervention but only by tacit decisions in partnerships over time. Quotas are an ineffective mechanism for increasing female labour market participation due to the underlying mistaken assumption that women are swayed mainly by means of successful models. Therefore, changes will not be achieved easily. Despite the political tendency to level essential differences between men and women, there remain male preferences for certain professions that are unattractive to women and vice versa. This explains why women, despite quotas and preferential treatment, have low participation rates in the IT sector, for instance, or become pilots as often as men. We have to accept that basic differences between men and women are reflected in their choice of professions and that they might always remain in place.

 

Keywords: Labour market, female quotas, discrimination by men, discrimination of achievement, inferiority


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