Gender quotas and politics

Sir,– I am disappointed that Thomas Ryan (Letters, June 5th) casts the demonstrable lack of gender bias among the Irish electorate as a "myth" that has been "perpetuated by a number of political scientists and lobby groups", only to attempt to back up his argument with a reductionist analysis of the results of the local election for Fine Gael candidates.

He points to differing success rates between male and female candidates as conclusively disproving this “myth” without taking any account of other variables which may influence this outcome. The studies which Ryan refutes (which admittedly are more directed at general elections) also consider the impact of campaign spending, incumbency and ministerial office, all of which increase one’s chances of being elected. A failure to consider the fact that men are disproportionately more likely to be in office already and are more likely to be ministers of course makes it appear that the Irish electorate just has a deeply held preference for male candidates.

It may be that political parties are not entirely to blame for the disparity. It may be the case that in places fewer women put themselves forward. It may be that they are more likely to take up responsibilities in the home at the expense of a possible political career.

Gender quotas are not a panacea for all of this, but they at least place incentives on political parties to make the changes that they can to increase the number of women in politics. – Yours, etc,





United Kingdom.