Some people think that employers should be required to employ equal numbers of men and women. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Affirmative action was introduced in the USA to try help minorities gain better jobs. Whether it was effective is a matter of some debate, but many saw it as a necessary kickstart and would argue that it could be repeated in matters of sexual discrimination. However, I would cautiously argue against the implementation of a 50/50 gender quota because it can, paradoxically, go against fairness.

Gender inequality has its own subtleties, one of which is that often men and women are typecast to fill certain social roles and certain professions before the hiring process begins. Forcing a construction foreman to employ exactly 50% women, or a kindergarten principal to hire 50% men, is problematic if applicants are predominantly from one gender. A 50% rule would be an example of the law not acknowledging social realities and claims of reverse-discrimination would rocket.

With this in mind such a rule would have to be altered, either by only applying to ‘gender-neutral’ jobs (defining which would be a recipe for disaster), or by creating a lower quota (which is far more realistic). One idea that is being tried now is to tackle the application process rather than the hiring: companies are legally bound to interview a diverse group, but are still able to hire their perception of the best candidate from that pool. This at least allows applicants from under-represented groups a shot at the job without the law manipulating the outcome, and I think in a meritocracy that is the aim.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would argue that whilst much needs to be done to improve matters of equality a blanket 50/50 gender quota is too blunt and too simplistic a tool. The door needs to be open for people from all parts of society, but the goal is to reward individuals for their efforts and skills, not start allotting. That is why I would agree that tackling the application process is the more logical first step, behind which education and social expectations will follow.