Women in Cabinet

June 4, 2010

I have always regarded with suspiscion, attempts to increase the number of women in parliament at all levels, or as the rhetoric would have it, ‘battle sexism’ by the back door. Whether its all women short lists, or quotas of cabinet ministers who should be women or of an ethnic minority. That might be a fix or patch to a problem, but its not dealing with the cause, whatever that may be.

I’ve always thought people should be promoted by merit alone. Harriet Harman seems to think a women ought to get a vote just for being a woman. Diane Abbott seems to think she should get 33 votes for being a women and being black. I think initiatives like these at best are patronising to women, who do not need any help to compete with men in politics.

However, an article by Katie McCrory raises an interesting point. If all thats seen in the media is a male dominated cabinet, there is a danger that politics is percieved as a male only bloodsport in society’s subconscious.

I see this happen in science all the time. Even in the biggest international collaborations there are only a handful of women. In Engineering, a subject many women are exceptionally gifted in, there remains work to be done to encourage women, through positive discrimination, to study as Engineers.

I thought I had made my mind up on this issue but perhaps its not so simple.


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