Ivana Bacik: ‘Gender quotas are necessary to help tackle hidden bias’

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Ivana Bacik: ‘Gender quotas are necessary to help tackle hidden bias’

  


Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA

I was delighted at the announcement that the Government will establish women-only professorships in third-level institutions to tackle structural gender inequality. This initiative is very necessary. Despite equal numbers of women and men entering academic careers, women make up less than a quarter of professors; we have never had a woman president or provost in any of our universities.

The new appointments will be introduced in a relatively restrictive manner, to apply only in areas where women are significantly under-represented (like engineering or science) and where other initiatives to promote gender equality have failed.

While the ‘women-only professorship’ initiative is likely to generate some predictable backlash from the ‘political correctness gone mad’ brigade, it can be justified on the same basis as gender quotas in politics. These quotas, also controversial when introduced in 2012, have already proven to be effective in tackling the same hidden structural bias in political culture.

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