Posted by: rjsipe | January 14, 2015

The Issue of Quotas in Women’s Leadership

This Opinion piece by Catherine Rampell offers several interesting insights on the negative effects that quotas can have on women in the workplace, specifically leadership positions, as well as highlights some of the disadvantages that women face in America. In the piece Rampell crafts an argument criticizing mandates requiring companies to have quotas regarding the number of women on their leadership board. Rampell does believe that there is a large inequality that needs to be fixed within the corporate world regarding women in leadership positions. She, however, sees the solution of quotas as crippling women, more than effectively reducing the inequality. The largest issues she indicates revolve around token employment, resentment in the workplace, and women selling themselves short. Rampell’s perspective suggests that government intervention to gain women increased roles in leadership inhibits women’s natural ability to be selected for a position, as well as undercuts the women’s ability.

The issues raised by Rampell are valid, as in many cases I feel that if a company is forced to hire a person of a certain gender or race, people in the company may feel animosity towards that individual and view them as less qualified, even if they are qualified. Where as if no quotas are in place and a woman is hired or promoted to a high leadership role, the reception is more friendly as it is perceived the person must be qualified for the role. If it isn’t hostile coworkers the forcing of adding women to the leadership of companies can also cause tokenism. Tokenism is “the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.” Though quotas would force the companies to have a certain number of women in leadership roles, the amount the companies have to listen to or accept the opinion of these leaders is not regulated. Whereas, if a woman is chosen for her qualifications for the position her voice will most likely carry weight. There is the problem then with how do you ensure that equal or more qualified women are placed in leadership positions rather than men if there are no quotas? I cannot offer a solution myself, but do see the advantages quotas provide, as well as the disadvantages they create.

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