Gender quotas and the crisis of the mediocre man

Article here. Excerpt:

'More than 100 countries have a gender quota of some form or another in their political system (www.quotaproject.org). While accepting that they lean against underlying biases in gender representation, many opponents argue that such quotas offend meritocratic principles: women elected on the back of quotas need not be the most qualified and may displace qualified men. It would be nice to resolve these debates with hard evidence. However, relatively little is known about the impact of quotas on the competence of elected candidates – whether women or men.
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More than 100 countries have a gender quota of some form or another in their political system (www.quotaproject.org). While accepting that they lean against underlying biases in gender representation, many opponents argue that such quotas offend meritocratic principles: women elected on the back of quotas need not be the most qualified and may displace qualified men. It would be nice to resolve these debates with hard evidence. However, relatively little is known about the impact of quotas on the competence of elected candidates – whether women or men.

Our study provides a unique window on quotas and, at the same time, pushes forward the measurement of competence in political selection. It uses the fact that, in 1993, Sweden’s Social Democratic party voluntarily introduced a strict gender quota for its candidates. In internal discussions of the reform, the party’s Women’s branch observed that some men were more critical than others. The quota became known colloquially as the “Crisis of the Mediocre Man,” since the incompetent men had the most to fear from an influx of women into politics.'

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Let's run with this

Hmm, OK. Let's for giggles stipulate that the study's def'n of "competence" is better than the prior one. Actually I am inclined to see a different measure of "competence" vs. income of the politician. But that is for a different post.

No, let's say that we accept the def'n given: the pol who has the higher income is ipso facto more competent than one with a lower income. I guess then we can infer that h@ving pols w/ higher incomes means that we get more competent, ie, better political leaders.

OK, so if that be the case then... perhaps what we ought to be doing is offering our political positions to the highest-paid members of the electorate before anyone else. So if in Jones County, the CEO of the biggest employer in the county is also the highest-paid person, we ought to offer that person the shot to run for the office of County Executive ahead of anyone else. Sound good? Heck, let's just pass a law *assigning* the office to the highest-paid person in the county, the job is theirs if they want it. Who needs elections, anyway?

This is how economic aristocracies are born.

Point is, elections are not about competence or measures of mediocrity. They are about the people at large getting to choose who they want to have occupy the political positions that affect them and how their money is spent. Anyone who wants the job should be able to stand for it. Screening people based on sex, income, etc., all takes us down a slippery slope very quickly. Politics is corrupted enough by all manner of things. Creating filtered candidate lists only makes things worse.

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