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Friday, January 13, 2017

Harvard Journal of Law & Gender -- Reconsidering Gender Quotas


Reconsidering the Remedy of Gender Quotas
Tracy A. Thomas*
         When newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked by surprised reporters why he appointed women as 50% of his cabinet, he responded simply, “Because it’s 2015.”[1] Just because. Because it’s time. In fact, he implied, it is long past time for having to justify including women as one-half of the power structure when women constitute one-half of the population. American presidential candidate Hillary Clinton similarly aimed to appoint a cabinet of half women if elected.[2] At the global level, the United Nations’ initiative “Planet 50-50 by 2030” challenges governments to commit to putting women in 50% of positions of economic and political power, because they are 50% of the planet.[3] All these efforts demonstrate Trudeau’s point that it’s time for meaningful change in shared governance through a method as simple as selecting women for half of all positions of power.[4]

This same idea of gender parity applies in everyday governance at all levels. It is long past time for justifying the need to reform American institutions that exclude women from the power structure. Rather than stumbling along the path of continued sex discrimination by the ineffective application of judicial Band-Aids to systemic problems, it is time for alteration of the power structure itself. It’s time for the law to endorse the equal representation of women in all power venues in order to remedy—permanently—longstanding, resistant systemic sex discrimination.[5] And the way to achieve this goal of gender parity might be quotas.

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