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Chicks to rule: time for fifty per cent quotas in politics

By Mirko Bagaric - posted Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Equal opportunity is fine but not when it means that our flourishing continues to be impaired by the fact that the people who make all the important decisions come mainly from the wrong gene pool.

Brace yourselves fellas, it’s time we delegated up and required all political parties to introduce minimum 50 per cent quotas for the number of female candidates.

This isn’t reverse discrimination, designed to make it up to women who have been repressed throughout much of history. Rather it is blatant self-interest. We should let chicks have a bigger role in running the country because research shows they are likely to do it better.


While us blokes might not be that smart when it comes to the important things, hopefully we’re bright enough to know when we should call in the big guns for expert advice.

Recent studies show that women have got more of what it takes when it comes to nation and community building qualities. For men politics is typically about themselves, whereas for women it’s about others.

It probably won’t come as much as a shock to you but, yes, blokes really are self-centred. A good illustration of this comes from a study that looks at lying. Men and women both lie during approximately a quarter of their social interactions.

But the reason they lie is vastly different. Women are especially likely to fib in order to protect someone else's feelings. Men on the other hand, are more prone to lying about themselves - the typical conversation between two blokes contains about eight times as many self-oriented lies as it does falsehoods about other people.

We also have confirmation that women are more compassionate. They get far less satisfaction than blokes in witnessing retribution. A study published in a recent edition of Nature revealed that “while women showed signs of empathy with people they both liked and disliked, men appeared to enjoy pain being inflicted on their foes”. In explaining these results of one of the researchers, Dr Colin Wilson, stated it might be “women tend to have more reflective, thoughtful responses, and are less likely to make quick, punitive judgments”.

Now if you have a choice between a compassionate, thoughtful and considerate leader or one that was reflexive, self-focused and punitive who would you want to be making the decisions? Even us blokes should be able to get that one right.


And there’s no need to fear that chicks are a bit flaky when it comes to the mundane stuff like balancing the books. Although blokes have bigger brains, recent studies show that men and women have the same average IQ.

If the chicks are really so switched on then why are they so grossly under represented in politics and senior jobs? That’s because they’re smart enough to know that more often than not the price to be paid for securing a high flying position is too high.

There’s lots of competition for such gigs. That means lots of people putting in seemingly endless time and resources into acquiring them. Many women, however, opt out of the running pretty early in the competition for high status positions. A London School of Economics study showed that “men are three times as likely as women to regard themselves as work-centred. Women want opportunities, but not a life dominated by work”. Again, the chicks are absolutely right on this score.

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A version of this was first published in the New Zealand Herald on February 22, 2006.

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About the Author

Mirko Bagaric, BA LLB(Hons) LLM PhD (Monash), is a Croatian born Australian based author and lawyer who writes on law and moral and political philosophy. He is dean of law at Swinburne University and author of Australian Human Rights Law.

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