On air: Do women need extra help to succeed?

A law that has been reintroduced in India which would reserve a third of all seats in the national parliament and state legislatures for women. Its progress is being delayed by protests today in the upper house. It again raises the issue of whether women require this kind of assistance to achieve the same success and power as men. (And an interesting bit of context to this story is that it was original proposed back in 1996 and 14 years in clearly some Indians still feel it’s very necessary.)

Would you like similar legislation in your country? Maybe you’d like laws to insist on the number of women a business employees, or the number of women granted places at university.

Or this about a difference in ambition between men and women, or at least a difference in priorities? Do we show a bias towards men when we define success in terms of politics and money?

106 Responses to “On air: Do women need extra help to succeed?”

  1. 1 Cabe UK
    March 8, 2010 at 16:12

    Hummm… my first reaction was of amazement but on second thoughts – maybe in certain countries there is a need to ‘make a space’ for women in certain circumstances – not because their intelligence or capability is in question but becauseas they just may not be fairly represented or accorded the same equality as the men there…
    This is not a bad thing – in fact it may be a bit of a kick-start for them in terms of ’emancipation’ etc ????

  2. 2 steve
    March 8, 2010 at 16:37

    That’s INCREDIBLY undemocratic… People being told who they have to vote for. India claims to be the world’s largest democracy, yet people can be told who they have to vote for?

    Here in the west, we hear feminist groups talking about the mythical gender pay gap, they they ignore the life span gap, which favors women, the university education gap, where 65% of university students in the US are female, the healthcare research gap, MUCH more money is spent on women’s medical issues than on men’s health issues.. There’s a point when it went from equality to special privileges. In a nation like saudi arabia, where women cannot drive, cannot travel outside of home without a male relative, that’s where there is a genuine need for equality, but mandating that people have to vote a certain way, mandating that 50% of ceo’s have to be women, is just wanting the best of things society has to offer. I’ve never seen anyone seeking out “50%” requirements at the bottom, in janitorial positions, or slaughterhouse floor. Women in the west only seek “equality” at the top, and expect it to be handed to them. You cannot tell people who to vote for and call yourself a democracy. That’s shameful.

    • 3 Nick Alvarado
      March 8, 2010 at 19:58

      To the incessant equation of Companies and Governments, they cannot be equated. We don’t run them the same way, nor should we. They have different interests at heart and established by different stakeholders.
      Women need to be represented by hook or by crook. The best candidates male/female don’t get elected by merit. We’ve seen the wealthy and political clans get elected based on proximity to power, not capability. Knowing those actual election practices, women would be as ideal as men in those roles. Would you want someone who doesn’t own a car or know how to drive one set all the regulations and polices for cars? Women’s perspective of stewardship, fostering the needy, children’s issues, and womens rights would be better served by more ‘native’ experts serving in elected office. Women don’t need to be equal gender roles as men, but do need them to equally represent mankind.

    • 4 Wendy Moshirfatemi
      March 8, 2010 at 20:47

      In reference to what Steve is saying, I disagree. Allowing for a small percentage of a democratic government to reflect almost one half of the electorate is only fair. To say that women in the west expect to start out from the top without working for it, it denies the inherent privilege that men have in the west or east. Additionally, who is to say that women aren’t making their marks in politics not because of their aptitude, but because of hundreds of years of bias?

      Furthermore, it offends me that Steve describes the gender pay gap as “mythical” (when in fact, it is very real) while showcasing the university education gap and the lifespan gap. Without addressing the inherent wrongness in his comparions, women may live longer or be more intelligent, but what does that matter if we have no stake in our own governments?

    • 5 Lina Mathias
      March 9, 2010 at 06:03

      Steve, perhaps you should first acquaint yourself with the ground realities in the “democracies” you are talking about before making such extreme statements. India has a quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and so on and so forth. Not just in electoral politics but also as far as admission into higher education and professional education institutions. The experiment with reserving quotas for women in the local self governing bodies at the village levels has had mixed but predominantly positive results as far as rural Indian women are concerned. Nothing is absolute–not even “democratic” structures and systems.

  3. 6 patti in cape coral
    March 8, 2010 at 16:43

    I second what Cabe UK says!

  4. 7 Roy, Washington DC
    March 8, 2010 at 16:45

    Quotas are bad, since all they do is encourage discrimination. If you really want to eliminate discrimination, make a process that is blind to a person’s gender (or race, etc.). This will be difficult, sure, but it’s the only way to truly eliminate it.

  5. 8 T
    March 8, 2010 at 16:50

    They do. Why? Because the guys still control the money and the power.

    The problem is balancing this with helping other groups that need help. How much help is too much or not enough? Who pays for it? And who pays the attorney fees when discrimination lawsuits are filed?

  6. 9 Ibrahim in UK
    March 8, 2010 at 16:52

    I was thinking exactly what Cabe mentioned… a kick-start.
    If societial norms and prejudices are hindering female advancement and success, then maybe this legislation is the counterbalance to get women into power, thereby de facto altering societal norms.
    The danger is that a more qualified person will be overlooked for the post due to the quota restrictions, that may be a necessary cost for the “greater good”. The difficulty is then in knowing when to apply this quota and when to remove it once society has accepted the status of women (or any other group) in power.

  7. 10 Andrew in Australia
    March 8, 2010 at 16:55

    Yes in many parts of the world women do need some assistance to overcome entrenched discrimination. The problem is when offerinf quotas to any group over another is that you not only discriminate against someone else by virtue of them being in the outside group, but you also limit the availability of the best person for the job. It may not sound so brilliant but if you reserve positions for one group who are not up to that position you handicap yourself in the end when talented and able individuals are locked out becuase of it. Sometimes you can’t win in that case.

  8. 11 Gary Paudler
    March 8, 2010 at 17:18

    Yes, while laws in some countries might prohibit bias against women, there can still be entrenched overt or unintentional sexism which biases an institution or electorate in favor of, possibly less-qualified, males. If half the population is female, then a one-third quota seems pretty fair to me, and there could be a sunset clause providing for automatic reconsideration after women have a chance to show their competence and win the confidence of their constituents. Women also need extra help to succeed with parallel parking, but that’s a topic for another day when I have time to receive a bludgeoning.

  9. 12 Tony from Singapura
    March 8, 2010 at 17:18

    I am wondering how the process of voting would work with this rule in place.

    What would happen if insufficient women succeed in obtaining sufficient votes for a seat, does this mean the male contestants who otherwise win be excluded ?

    Sounds a bit dodgy to me.

    I would say if you have to legislate for this then your socienty is not ready for it. Perhaps legislation would be better focused in other areas that would encourage women into political office.

    By this I mean – legislation could be focused on workplace issues (e.g. maternity leave versus seniority) that would encourage the rise of women into higher positions in private and public institutions.

    From these positions the switch to public representation would be more natural and effective.

    • 13 Lina Mathias
      March 10, 2010 at 08:39

      The idea of “reservation” is that only women candidates stand in that particular constiutency–whether independents or representing political parties. Whichever woman gets the highest number of votes, wins. You are right though in saying that other affirmative actions are needed in many other spheres for women. The bill has been passed only in the Rajya Sabha(upper house), the passage through the Lok Sabha (lower house) is going to be even more difficult. All nitty-gritties and complexities (and there are many!) apart, speaking as an Indian and as a woman, this is a huge, indeed an epoch-making, move.

  10. 14 nora
    March 8, 2010 at 17:31

    Yes. Here in the US, men had special rights long enough that we often see women with power suits slogging along in designer drag–macho stance still straining to be accepted in the halls of power, forced to be a caracature.

    Brecht said that conscience is a pregnant woman contemplating her belly. I agree. But how do we get her clarity about the priorities of life without special action?

  11. March 8, 2010 at 17:42

    May be there is a difference in priorities.matriarchal system was the first developed in the evolution of Humanity and over a period of time it changed into a patriarchal system
    It is a fact that women as of now are not being given what is due to them.
    This being the case , they need a slight push to regain their rightful place.
    At the same time women need not attempt to do what all a man does in the name of Woman’s Lib for it is not natural.Wisdom lies in choosing what you are equipped by Nature to do.

  12. 16 viola
    March 8, 2010 at 17:46

    Reserved seats may lead to quotas which would guarantee no ascent to power.

  13. 17 Alan in AZ
    March 8, 2010 at 18:23

    Unfortunately inequality does hurt many countries and most of them just will not or can not admit it. The men running those societies are just to afraid to lost their macho control of the populace.

    Women are a better resource for improving society than most men will ever be until the men accept equality.

  14. 18 Elias
    March 8, 2010 at 18:24

    Nonesense!, to reserve a third of all seats in a national parlament for women does not make sense, men and women who have the qualifications for the job should only be considered for such positions. The problem is in India women are looked down upon and not considered equal to men, this must change with laws put in place that all people are equal, rather than simply reserving a proportion of seats only for women.
    In every walk of life, to succeed one has to be good enough for the job. Already Women have made great strides, you only have to look at Television, there are more and more women appearing as newscasters, when 50 years ago you saw mostly men in these positions. There have been women Prime Ministers, when it was unheard of in the past. But countries like India and some others do sujugate women which should not be so.

  15. 19 Joseph D. Jackson
    March 8, 2010 at 18:29

    This is another case where reverse discrimination must be used to counter-act other influences, in order to be ABLE to create a fair and Just balance in representation. Male and Females of our species ARE clearly physioligically different, which results in MANY other differences descending from the first. The only way to create balance is a quota system, where-in a minimum of 33% of government seats are available only to women.

  16. 20 subra
    March 8, 2010 at 18:37

    The greatest problem of India is the ego of the Indian men who think that they are the most superior, not only vis-a-vis women but other men also. Their vanity rules the roost.
    The defect is in the education they receive, making them think of their mother, sister and wife as inferior beings. In the 21st century men should accept that women be given a better treatment than that meted out for ages.

  17. 21 Linda from Italy
    March 8, 2010 at 18:39

    If there is true equality of opportunity and the gate keepers aren’t predominantly men with interests in maintaining a patriarchy, then the quota system will not be needed.
    However, even in the supposedly developed countries, this is not true since men are disproportionately represented in positions of power, be that economic or political, and many of them fear losing some of that power to women, who they would really like to banish back into the home, or the poorly paid so-called “caring” professions.
    The fear that brilliant, “more qualified” men would be subject to discrimination begs the question who decides what is more or less qualified?
    The suggestion that not enough able women may come forward is specious in the extreme, since many women are put off battling a system in which they perceive the dice are already loaded against them.
    If both parents take equal responsibility for children and for things like producing food and clean clothes, that would remove yet another obstacle from women’s progress.
    The quota system may appear to be of itself discriminatory, put until a fair 50/50 balance of power is achieved, it is needed.

  18. March 8, 2010 at 18:42

    I would think not.Anyone who thinks they need extra help should look up the word equal.It refers to ability,and that cannot be legislated for.Why should women be carried to the winning post? Or even have a winning post reserved for them alone.Equality of the sexes,absolutely.but no reservations.Western democracies have all the facilities for women,without let or hinderance.Other countries,perhaps not,but they need emancipation first before they can go any further.In other worda they need to be socially equal,which is another story.

  19. March 8, 2010 at 18:49

    Women are still being discriminated against in this day and age in so many parts of the world. So it is an important step that at least one-third of the seats are being reserved for women in India’s parliament. Until total equality is achieved, women should be given more opportunities to contest elections fairly. Men have had practically everything their way. In the twenty-first century we have got to ensure equality in every sense of the word so that generations to come will never treat women unfairly again. Women have borne this injustice for far too long!

  20. 24 Dmitry
    March 8, 2010 at 19:00

    In some countries women do need help in moving them from “bench warmers” to “captains”. There are countries where women are not even considered for the role of “second-stringers”. In order to tap and introduce female talent of playing on the “sports ground”, they need extra help to wedge the door open for them to come out of the shadow. Women bring new ideas, the ideas we men need, especially now.

  21. 25 steve
    March 8, 2010 at 19:10

    Given that probably 50% of the Indian population is female, and if not enough women are being elected, couldn’t that possibly show that women aren’t voting for women?

    You shouldn’t dare call yourself a democracy and then require people to vote for certain people.. If you want more women in parliament, then vote for more women in parliament, don’t force people to. That’s absolutely revolting that they are considering doing this.

  22. 26 Sulayman Dauda
    March 8, 2010 at 19:12

    ‘What a Man can do a Woman can do it even better’………….hahahahahahahah!

  23. 27 tekkoo
    March 8, 2010 at 19:13

    Let the best man/woman win. Placing quotas on any occupation/profession/career etc. for women is not going to work; for the following:
    Firstly, degradation and dilution of posts’ standard if these are occupied by unqualified ladies;
    Secondly, in the long run such laws will definitely turn against women if they failed to fulfil the desire objectives.
    I believe, this subject is just introduced by politicians to score political points.
    I have four daughters. I offered them the best education in my capacity and the freedom to select whatever career they like to follow. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t dare to use my influence (if I have any) to promote them unfairly to a position or a career, simply if they fail the disappointment would be huge and might ruin their confidence for good.
    Let the ladies find there own way, I am sure they will succeed, if they put their mind on whatever they want to be.

  24. 28 steve
    March 8, 2010 at 19:16

    This is like the university situation in the USA. 65% of university students in the US are female, but very few of the science/engineering students are females. So you’ll hear about disparaties about men/women in engineering in science, but it’s a result of choices. Women are choosing to study French Literature, politican science, or Philosophy, instead of Engineering. When i took engineering classes in university, there were very few women in the classes, and still today, the vast majority of engineering students are males. Should we force women to study engineering like we are considering forcing people to vote for women?

  25. March 8, 2010 at 19:18

    Reservation is never the answer. This rule will just mean that not only will weaker candidates have to be fielded other better ones will be sidelined. Plus the women will be sent to fight in places that are the party’s weak constituencies. If the party has confidence that they will win somewhere, then it will field them there no matter what. Of course this will also allow party supremos to sideline stronger people who they do not want. Yes women should be promoted, but not this way. Investment should be made on programs that will help raise women’s political awareness and activism rather.

    I also don’t think that the statement that women have less opportunity than men in the developed world is always true. Yes it stands true in the rural area where women work the same or even more than men in the farms and also at home and may get less of an opportunity for better education. But in the main city centres here, women usually have a better chance of landing a job than a male candidate. I am pretty sure that a women with the same qualifications and experience as me would get a much better job and better pay and get more preferences (just as all the vacancy advertisements flaunt). But that would be for the start-up and higher-medium management level. When the position is higher, I’ve seen less women.

    And finally, whenever a women does something or get to some position, they tend to flaunt it more and get a whole lot more attention than men and the lead reads she did it “in spite of being a women”. That mindset should change first.

  26. 30 pendkar
    March 8, 2010 at 19:23

    The bill for reserving a third of the seats for women is not the same as asking for extra help for women in other areas (like jobs, education).

    There is a glaring absence of women in active politics in India, unlike in other areas.The bill will serve to induct them. It is not a permanent measure.

    Reservation in parliament is being taken up because representation for women is expected to bring in positive social change in terms of integrating women better into society.

  27. 31 Citizen Dan
    March 8, 2010 at 19:26

    To me feminism doesn’t mean women & men are ‘equal ,’ but that women generally , as humans , deserve the same status , respect and regard from society men enjoy and benefit from .

    Typically , men are more aggressive . It is testosterone-driven & just one of many obvious differences between genders . This confers just one of many advantages to men contesting for leadership .

    While certainly not all bad , I see ample evidence of over-emphasis on aggression in most all the world’s leadership .

    I believe a female quota for national legislative bodies may have a salutary effect , and deserves to be tried . Without them , men , who , face it , when cornered often kill their opposition , will never relinquish power .

    • 32 Linda from Italy
      March 8, 2010 at 23:03

      Maybe it’s time one particular hormone is demoted as the driver of all things desirable like endless, ultimately unsustainable growth.
      The excuse levelled at women used to be that we were prey to our hormones, oestogen used to be cited as the reason women were unfit for anything except servicing men’s sexual and other physical needs, bearing and bringing up kids with no input whatsoever from the father who was busy hunting and gathering.
      Now ironically, it seems that we have to bow down to the almighty power of testosterone as poor men can’t help themselves so they have to be out there, yes, hunting and gathering in the corporate world (for politics read corporate).
      Move over you poor unfortunate things and take some therapy for testerone addiction!

  28. 33 Bert
    March 8, 2010 at 19:27

    Women MAY need help in certain countries more than others, and MAY need help in certain professions more than others. However, in some cases, it looks like men need help more than women do.

    In the US, it looks like men need to be encouraged to attend college, for example. Not women. Men need encouragement even to enter into professional post-graduate schools, such as medical and veterinary schools.

    No, I don’t think it makes sense to set quotas for women in politics, any more than it makes sense to set quotas for women in university disciplines.

    Example: in the US, women in veterinary schools are a huge majority. Something on the order of 80 percent women. Should we set a 50-50 quota system in these cases? I don’t think so.

    As a male, however, I think it is up to individuals to self-motivate. I would hate to think that malkes need to be spoon-fed to keep up. But again, this may differ in different cultures.

  29. 34 steve
    March 8, 2010 at 19:28

    Ros, it’s due to choices women make. Women choose lower paying fields like education, social work, and choose to work part time, or to quit work for a while to have children. You don’t become a CEO by working part time. The mistake women make is thinking they can “have it all”. A man wouldn’t become a CEO by working part time either. You weither devote your life to work or you don’t. you cannot expect to get all the benefits of working full time all the time, by only working part time. Again, ask anyone, on your deathbed, will you ever have wished you spent more hours in the office?

    • 35 Linda from Italy
      March 8, 2010 at 22:53

      Do we really make these choices?
      Devoting yourself to work is unhealthy for anyone, regardless of gender, perhaps that’s where you should look to explain divorce statistics and disturbed kids.
      The Protestant work ethic is all very well, but need to be put in its place in the interests of a well-balanced, non work obsessed society.

  30. 36 Julia in Portland, OR
    March 8, 2010 at 19:28

    I wonder if Rwanda might have had so many women in government if they hadn’t made the legislation to allow certain changes.

    I believe that women do need legislation to give them equal rights and support.

    I’ve worked in very male dominated businesses – some have been very well balanced in their treatment monetarily, in respect and in promotions –

    but I’ve also been in a very ‘old boys club’ work environment where women were very clearly discriminated against, there have been times where they had to be reminded of the laws and continually pushed by rule of law to behave properly, it was an ongoing battle. Unfortunately, this is still true in the USA and rights are still abused. It is in no way an ideal situation, but it is getting better.

    If the laws weren’t there the discrimination would continue on a larger scale.

  31. 37 Idris Dangalan
    March 8, 2010 at 19:28

    Nope because men and women were created equal so helps should comes for all no selection.

    • 38 Linda from Italy
      March 8, 2010 at 22:50

      They may have been “created” equal, but societies have a way of militating against this and skewing the odds.

  32. March 8, 2010 at 19:31

    Not certain if I placed my comment in the right place. But what I’d said was” If the law has been passed designating a certain percentage of the legislature to be women, then wouldn’t that mean that the people ARE ready?”

  33. 40 jade
    March 8, 2010 at 19:33

    even if women are as competent as men, it is harder for women to join old-boy social network or professional network that is traditionally dominated by men. would a group of men treat a woman as a “buddy” to share intelligence & to talk business?

  34. March 8, 2010 at 19:34

    Whilst I am in favour of having more women politicians, I worry about quotas. It comes down to the competence issue. If we start doing this to ensure a balance of gender in our Parliaments, where will it end? Will there be demands for quotas on grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation too? If that happens there’s a danger that people will come to power because of who they are rather than what they are capable of.

  35. 42 Billy
    March 8, 2010 at 19:36

    I would like to understand how this kind of legislation would actually be implemented. If the individual elections are regional, would the outcomes of popular elections in some regions be over-turned to ensure the number is reached if after the votes are counted the minimum number is not reached?

  36. 43 mers in Portland
    March 8, 2010 at 19:42

    At the beginning of my career (I’m a researcher in physical sciences) I too had the idealistic impression that the most qualified person (male or female) should be chosen for a position based on their aptitude and that this would not adversely impact the situation of competent women in any way. As I have matured, however, I have come to realize that the evaluation of women’s competency is largely made by men, automatically introducing a bias into the estimation of a woman’s abilities. The way some of your guests are talking implies that they think that there aren’t enough qualified women who would be interested to fill 1/3 of the seats in Indian Parliament. I very much doubt that somehow. I think that there would be many more qualified, interested female candidates than there are positions for them.

  37. 45 Penny From Eugene (Oregon)
    March 8, 2010 at 19:42

    I am very disappointed with our society here in the States. We have passed laws that codify certain aspects of equality between the genders. (Most recently the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, which President Obama signed into law his first week in office.) But we are years, even decades behind other “less advanced” countries, in that we have yet to have a Woman for President. Just a few of the countries who have achieved this ahead of us:

    Mary Robinson in Ireland
    Indira Ghandi in India
    Ellen Sirleaf Johnson in Liberia
    Tzivi Livney in Israel
    Margaret Thatcher in the U.K.
    Catherine the Great (in pre-Bolshevik Russia)

    (My sincere apologies to the great women whom I have listed in the event I have mis-spelled any of their names.

    Penny From Eugene (Oregon, U.S.A.)

  38. 46 Jerry from GA
    March 8, 2010 at 19:43

    I’m surprised none of the women have touched the root of why men don’t want women to have power. Machismo societies believe that women would be more likely to be corrupted than men, if given a seat of power.

  39. 47 pendkar
    March 8, 2010 at 19:44

    No, it will not result in patronage. We once had reservation for women in medical colleges. Now, we dont have it anymore, and women compete on equal terms with men and we now have almost equal number of male and female doctors.
    The same will happen with politics – after a while they will compete on truly equal terms

  40. 48 Manoj(India/US)
    March 8, 2010 at 19:45

    Being a Indian… I have seen the diversity of India both in sex and culture. There is a need of a robust structure and this is the step that is needed in almost all developing countries. If your country don’t have a structure for change in human attitude. Competitiveness is going to expand a social culture and a help for it in a rather social sense. This can only change attitude of men towards women in the whole world. You need to have a structure.

  41. 49 steve
    March 8, 2010 at 19:45

    I’m curious in India, if there is a military draft, same with Pakistan, and wonder if women are subjected to that draft. And how many men vs. women have died serving in the Indian/pakistani armies in the various wars they have fought? If women are not subjected to the draft, why aren’t they fighting for this kind of “equality”? as well? Or are only men good enough to be cannon fodder? My problem with the current women’s rights movements, is that they seek only rights, and not responsibilities. Demanind a certain number of parliamentary seats, but not demanding to be subjected to the same military draft.

    • 50 pendkar
      March 8, 2010 at 20:19

      Indian women havent died in war (after being drafted). But they do die routinely and in large numbers in childbirth (you see, they get drafted here. They really dont have a choice of not being subjected to it)

    • 51 Linda from Italy
      March 8, 2010 at 22:46

      Steve, why are you so obsessed with conscription?
      Even given this appalling situation, in a civilised country there should be room for conscientious objection, regardless of gender.
      Maybe if conscription was in force and more women were called up, more of them would refuse to serve and thus call a halt to such pointless wars as Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and any more that may be entered into by largely male governments. Indeed, if there were more women in power, perhaps the cpuntry would not be in that situation in the first place.

  42. 52 Larry
    March 8, 2010 at 19:48

    I agree that legislatures should be put in place to accommodate women in politics, particularly in developing countries. Most western/developed countries have tackled this issue for a long time, yet there is still inequality. So we can imagine how much gap there will be in developing countries where male significantly dominant


  43. 53 Jitan C (NYC)
    March 8, 2010 at 19:48

    “Affirmative action” is a paradoxical abuse of power that is actively used by people with a political agenda all over the world.

    You want to be in power – study and perform and nobody will be able to stop you. The lady in India lives in the stone age and talks about an India which was in the 1950s. Ask her to widen her horizons and stop asking for preferential treatments to cover shortcomings!

  44. 54 Chintan in Houston
    March 8, 2010 at 19:49

    Its not democratic to have quotas, but it can be a starting point.
    But such legislation should come with an end date to it. For e.g. this is law for the next 20 years or so or a parlimentary seat can been reserved for a woman candidate only for 2 consecutive elections after which its upto the people living in the constituency to keep her or not or elect a man if they wish to.

    A law that advocates entitlement is unfair.

  45. 55 patti in cape coral
    March 8, 2010 at 19:49

    Considering that 50% of the population in India is probably female, I guess it would be fair that they get some representation in the government. More important, though, is that they have equal access to education, etc.

  46. 56 steve
    March 8, 2010 at 19:49

    Ros, 65% of US university students these days in the US are female. But this gap isn’t an issue with feminists. Neither is the life expectancy gap. They only care about the gender pay gap, which results from choices women make.

  47. 57 steve Williams
    March 8, 2010 at 19:49

    I think women should have equal rights to good and high paying jobs as long as they have the necessary qualifications. On the other hand there is still allot of discrimination in the working arena.

  48. 58 Chintan in Houston
    March 8, 2010 at 19:51

    especially when it comes to womens role in India this article by the NYTimes is quite an eye opener:

    its titled: “Female Bankers in India Earn Chances to Rule ”

    So if a woman is qualified it won’t go unnoticed.

  49. 59 Bob - PA, USA
    March 8, 2010 at 19:53

    ON the one hand, I think this is a wonderful opportunity for women to push further along the road to true equality.

    On the other, it’s an intrusion on the freedom of the electorate. It’s practically no different than a government telling the electorate, “You may vote for whomever you please, but the candidates can only come from the [insert name of] Party.”

    One of the keys to democracy is the electorate’s freedom to elect anyone, regardless of party, gender, color, creed or what have you.

    I’m torn.

  50. 61 pendkar
    March 8, 2010 at 19:55

    In future, people will work only 3 days a week (both men and women) and they will take care of their families on the other 4 days of the week (both men and women). that is how both men and women will ‘have it all’

  51. 64 steve
    March 8, 2010 at 19:56

    If you work part time, you make less money. Let’s face, many women marry/date up, and are turned off by men who earn less than them. The more a woman makes more than her husband, the less happy their marriage tends to be, out of resentment. So if men start working part time, you think that’s going to help the 50% divorce rate?

    We’re currently in a “mancession” now, which is affecting men more than women. And as a result of decreasing earning power in men, women involved with them are less happy and more resentful that she has become the breadwinner..

    Other societal change involves women, that they have to stop viewing men as walking banks.

    • 65 patti in cape coral
      March 8, 2010 at 20:10

      Steve, why do you hate us so much? My husband has always made less than me and it has never affected how I felt about him. In fact, he has an amazing work ethic. Both of us have been through job cuts where one or the other had to be the only breadwinner. The only way we see it is that he and I are one, and if something is good for one, it is good for the other. If all the women you are meeting are viewing men as “walking banks” maybe you should look for a different kind of woman. You are making at least as many assumptions about the opposite sex as they make about you.

    • 66 pendkar
      March 8, 2010 at 20:11

      If you dont confine yourself so much to the situation in your part of the world, and to your time, you will have to agree to what I said about the future.

      If it involves living with lesser income to having a harmonius environment (where everyone can contribute directly to the society through work and still raise their families), then so be it.

      Yes, there will come a time when women will stop ‘viewing men as walking banks’ and men stop viewing women as whatever they do right now..

    • 67 Linda from Italy
      March 8, 2010 at 22:38

      Steve, what have women done to hurt you so deeply and make you so bitter?
      This is rubbish, we are people, so grow up and forget your comic book stereotypes.

      • 68 pendkar
        March 9, 2010 at 14:22

        okay, since the debate seems to be continuing, I would like to add a few more points (at the risk of stretching it too much)

        Yes, there exist some women who look at men as ‘walking banks’ – be selfish, manipulative in relationships. But that is a relationship factor. It can only be tackled by people inside it. People (men, if we are taking up Steve’s argument) have to take a stand, have their priorities right and decide not to have anything to do with unprincipled people (if you cannot deal with it). What I notice is that men do not pay heed to the integrity aspect of a woman’s personality. It is some kind of arrogance on part of men. They think ‘it can be managed’.

        The main point here is that you cannot make the basic rights of women conditional to their ‘being good’.

  52. March 8, 2010 at 19:57

    1. How many women would accept me if I said I would stay home, have no jobs and take care of the children and all the home stuff (I’m not saying share but do it all). ANd how many would actually still respect me?

    2. It’s also kind of unfair that women get official paid leave when they have children (They have to do it because it’s a physical need), and men don’t. Men should also get some leave so that they can also take care of their wives n kids. I have colleagues here who was having too much of a hard time because when his wife had their child, he couldn’t get a paid leave and he was the only person who could take care at home and cook and buy and all the stuff. So he was pretty stressed out and was physically exhausted both at work and home.

    • 70 Linda from Italy
      March 8, 2010 at 22:35

      In Europe, men do now get paternity leave.
      I, and many women would be quite happy to negotiate the family roles and whether these are shared, in any ratio 100%-0%, 50%-50% or anything in between, who gives a stuff, as long both partners are happy and children are well looked after.
      Male ego projecting itself onto women strikes again.

  53. 71 Jitan C (NYC)
    March 8, 2010 at 20:00

    Tapas ….
    Answer 1:
    I would say the total would be between 1-10 for both the options.

    Answer 2:
    Nowadays, Companies do provide paterntiy leaves for Men for exactly the things you mentioned.

  54. 72 Samson
    March 8, 2010 at 20:20

    Yes women need extra help to succeed.

  55. 73 Gerry, Berlin
    March 8, 2010 at 20:34

    It would be good to see women challenging some male defined concepts instead of trying to live up to them: like the way success and ability are defined, the hierarchical structure of power, the struggle for power and control in the world underlying politics and business, the perceived necessity for wars, the stupidity of patriotism and tribalism that allows wars to happen, etc, etc. It’s a big job, and we can wait a thousand years for some men to wake up and do anything about it. How about it women?

  56. 74 viola
    March 8, 2010 at 20:41

    I believe there was a massacre of women engineering students by a disgruntled male student a few years ago here in Canada. I don’t remember the details but it seems he objected to women being accepted over him. I wonder how we should interpret his act of mass murder? Was he the extreme of male anger toward women entering what they consider their domain?

  57. 75 Nigel
    March 8, 2010 at 21:03

    I don’t think they need help to suceed,. However they do need help to turn that success in to something that will better the lot of themselves and their families.

  58. 76 Linda from Italy
    March 8, 2010 at 22:31

    In democracies, we divide up the electoral territory into constituencies or electoral colleges, base on equal numbers of people.
    So, why not within those territories do we not say that these constituencies should be a fair representation of the people within them?
    For the people banging on about representative democracy, there should indeed be the sort of representation that allows 50% of the population to share power.
    No argument, half of every government should be made up of women and if legislation is necessary to bring that about, so be it.

  59. 77 Linda from Italy
    March 8, 2010 at 23:15

    The old childbirth chestnut rears its ugly head yet again.
    If we assume that for sustainable population growth couples should have no more than two children, that involves two relatively short periods.
    A pregnancy lasts 9 months, and most women are able to work well up to the eight month. There is the birth and a necessary recovery period at which point the role of the man kicks in, apart from breastfeeding, which if men had not so sexualised women’s breasts this perfectly natural process should not be confined to locked doors at home, or the toilet.
    Believe it or not it takes two people to have a child and therefore they should share equal responsibility for the pre-school years, until this penny drops and men demand what should be their own rights as parents, people will always be able to play this card.
    Funny how few of you men fancy the idea.

  60. March 8, 2010 at 23:19

    getting this kind of amendments to help women access the best jobs/ status contradicts the rpinciple of emancipation,
    women should reach the highest positions thanks to their efforts, not because a law prohibits men from taking those positions

  61. 79 Harmonia
    March 8, 2010 at 23:21

    Things are so vastly different in different countries that I think
    it’s impossible to make generalizations that may be true in one
    society and not true in another. Women in the US are, I’m sure,
    in a very different position than women in Dubai or women in Somalia, or women in Sweden.

    That said, I think it IS possible to illuminate what the factors are,
    and I think they are obvious, that hold women back from freer, more fulfilling lives wherever they are.

    1. Informed control of one’s own reproductive life.
    2. Legal rights identical to those of men.

    Beyond this, everything else is culturally determined–whether one has
    access to good education, good health care, that is, whether anyone, male or female, has the right to determine his or her own destiny. If any person can legally be controlled, abused, held prisoner, obviously he or she isn’t free. So in countries where a male family member can control the females, the problem is that of legal rights, which may in fact have to run counter to perceived notions of religious propriety.

    Bottom line, as long as women fear physically, cannot control whether they have children or not, and cannot support themselves financially, they will not be free or equal to (some!) men. Everything else flows from these three fundamentals. If women do choose to have children, they must realize that by doing so they complicate their lives substantially.
    After these basics, the debate would necessarily shift into one regarding class, not gender, as well as one concerning family dynamics and structures.

  62. 80 gurt
    March 9, 2010 at 02:28

    To tapas thapa (Nepal)

    1. Every single one of my female friends has had the great pleasure of their partner staying at home with their children for some period. They are still together, still respectful and the children are happily secure with two involved parents caring for them.

    2. Of course men should get paid leave as well. I always wonder why so few men seem to actively demand it. Seems odd.
    Paid leave of absence for women is not the standard in most of the world. On top of that a lot of countries still have very lax laws regarding the firing of pregnant women.

    Women do double duty in the workplace and at home all the time, how is that different than your friend?

  63. 81 Tan Boon Tee
    March 9, 2010 at 03:24

    Women would still need extra help until they are given the equal right and opportunity to pursue their education in all fields of interests and at all possible levels.

    Sadly, many of them cannot even afford a decent meal a day, let alone the chance to be properly educated. But who would help?

  64. March 9, 2010 at 05:51

    Its interesting to read the comments here.

    Coming from India let me say a few things
    1. Positive discrimination was made an integral part of Indian Consitution because everyone believed women in india needed to be given a kick start to move ahead.
    has it helped? has it been effective? these are questions we dont ask.
    2. i am often asked by my male colleagues/friends that you talk about equality then why not fight fair. so again we dont ask the bigger question- what is today’s woman thinking? what is her cause of “equality” and “discrimination”
    3. Reserving seats in parliament is probably a good way of getting more women access to the policy discussing. But again- who will get elected?more seats mean more equality?People in this country don’t even know what voting is all about so the larger question is are we really promoting anything at all?

    One question i try to answer to myself every now and then is-what has discrimination become today?Do i want reservation or has the society made me self fulfilling and capable enough to make it anywhere on my own. As an educated,urban,professional lawyer in the field of human rights i at times have no answers. So maybe what we need to ask is- Has the society really dealt with the gender as it should have been at all?

    Human Rights Lawyer

  65. 83 Justin Durueke
    March 9, 2010 at 06:54

    I do not believe in the quota system. Even though the world is male dominated, women should be given equal opportunities in politics, education and during promotion. I remember the Lily Ledbetter Act that calls for equal pay between male CEO’s and their female counterparts in the United States. In the developing world, this may not be the case as women are seen as the weaker sex. In most countries of the world, women are not allowed to do anything. They cook, clean and take care of the children while the man goes out to look for money. There should be legislations to change this because the world is evolving.

  66. 84 Subhash C Mehta
    March 9, 2010 at 06:56

    The gender bias, in favour of men, is more or less there in the whole world; it is because of men being physically stronger than women. But, for that matter, there are so many inequalities and their resultant biases, in so many things and in so many ways in the nature, that, we’ve just got to accept them as they are. Of course, there are certain cases of man-made/imposed and unjust bias/discrimination, because of their superior physical strength and high-handedness, which need to be rectified; Here again, mere imposition of drastic reservation, just to allot the parliamentary seats, without going through the democratic process of openly contesting and winning the election on the strength of their merit or capability, would be highly discriminatory or biased in favour of women. Our women are no more down-trodden, like they used to be in the past or say 50 years before; they’re doing better than men in many of the fields of education/entrepreneurship and are already occupying many an important posts/positions and performing extremely well in many of the governmental and private offices/enterprises. Hence, they don’t need any pity or extra help in the political field; they are very capable of excelling on their own merits. Same is applicable in case of our Muslims. The fact of the matter is, that, besides the reservations required for the sake of livelihood/survival of certain backward and extremely poor categories of our people, there should be no reservations of any sort whatsoever.

  67. 85 JanB
    March 9, 2010 at 11:33

    It is undemocratic to eliminate certain candidates based on their gender so quota’s are undemocratic, it’s that simple.

  68. 86 Ibrahim in UK
    March 9, 2010 at 12:15

    Democracy is not perfect. The will of the people is only as good as the people themselves. If there are imperfections such as social prejudices and discrimination which create artificial barriers, then something needs to be done to remove these barriers and address society’s mindset.
    I guess it could be a bit like we have regulations to counter the imperfect market forces to protect the most vulnreble from being priced out of existence.

  69. 87 Clamdip
    March 9, 2010 at 12:58

    As women continue to surpass men in getting a college education this might be a mute point in the future. Women in the U.S. still only make about .70 cents to every $1,00 men make so this is a glaring inequality. I’d like to see the best qualified and competent promoted regardless of gender. Men tend to have a “buddy,buddy” system that keeps women from reaching through the glass ceilings of companies. If women helped and supported other women more imagine where we’d be and how much the world might improve. Maybe we could end this war economy and promote the lives of children in world free from exploitation and greed.

  70. 88 username
    March 9, 2010 at 13:27

    This is sexism, pure and simple

  71. 89 Mohammed Ali
    March 9, 2010 at 14:26

    Women do not need any extra help to succeed nor do they need help to achieve the power that men have. If we take into consideration the that women have been marginalized, descriminated against and subjected to the whim and caprices of men over the centuries, something that have led to them (women) being left far behind men in terms of almost everthing, it is fair to agree that women need some extra attention to make up for the centuries marginalization, descrimination and subjugation.

    Mohammed Ali

  72. 90 K.Vishwanath
    March 9, 2010 at 14:38

    Any election is something representing the population. All religion, caste, etc anywhere in the world is human made but gender is the creation of Mother Nature. Logically 50% of any country’s population is female and I strongly advocate that 50% of the seats in Parliment or Legislature should be reserved for women. The seats can be rotated by turn so that in the next election the other 50% is reserved for women. Women are really capable and with time they come up to men if not better in politics also.

  73. 91 steve
    March 9, 2010 at 15:29

    Glass ceiling? Please. it’s a result of choices women make. You don’t become CEO from working part time. the 70 cents on the dollar results from choices women go into. if you step into engineering class on a university campus, despite universities being 65% female, you’ll still see the vast majority of engineering students being male. Sorry, but engineers/scientists make more than elementary school teachers. It’s a result of choices people make.

    • 92 JanB
      March 9, 2010 at 18:55


      Couldn’t agree more with you. People tend to forget that that inequal pay stems from inequal work hours.

  74. 93 Clamdip
    March 9, 2010 at 18:34

    It’s not sexism ‘it’s a fact. In Haiti, aid agencies gave bags of rice away to women because women tend to distribute food more equally to their communities. I think the world would be better off if women were in charge.

  75. 94 gurt
    March 9, 2010 at 18:37

    Shockingly enough, female CEOs earn about 85% of what their male counterparts do.
    Surely, these females are capable considering they are made CEOs, and have made all the right choices.

    The 15% pay gap is only slightly less than other same job/education/time etc gaps.

    The next counter argument will be that women simply aren’t as good at salary negotiating as men are.
    Fine, but then why do white men earn more than their male counterparts of other races? Is it also a matter of race? Are women and non-whites somehow less capable of negotiating? How does that work?
    Or could it be that there is an attitude and expectation from the people they are negotiating with?
    Salary negotiating while female is quite literally like doing the 100 m sprint starting 15 meters behind the rest of the runners.

  76. 95 steve
    March 9, 2010 at 18:50

    There are vastly more male winners of nobel prize winners in physics and chemistry. Should the Nobel committee be forced to pick at least 50% of the prize winners be women?

    How is this any different than mandating that parliament be a minimum percentage of women, except that voting is involved by th epublic, not by a private organization.

    So if you wouldn’t agree to do it to the nobel committe, why would you force the public to vote for people?

    Do you see the problem of mandating quotas?

    • 96 Lina Mathias
      March 10, 2010 at 12:38

      If you see no difference between a Committee that awards prizes once a year and a developing country’s Parliament–where representation of marginalised sections including women is crucial and involves some rather complex deprivations and complexities–man, you need some political education

  77. 97 Ibrahim in UK
    March 9, 2010 at 18:52

    I think merely stating the differences between male and female earnings is a bit misleading.
    There needs to be a comparison between POTENTIAL earnings for the same job with the same qualifications, experience and comittment. After all, we don’t live in communism where wages are dictated by the state. We have market forces and negotiations. For the same job, is the same wage available to a male and female of equal ability?
    If there is an ineqality there, then that needs to be addressed first of all. But otherwise, it’s a bad idea to just cover all genuine differences under the blanket of inequality.

  78. 98 steve
    March 9, 2010 at 19:04

    Let’s not forget that there is sexism against men as well. British Airways has a policy that will not let men sit next to children they don’t know. So if you’re on a flight, and a kid is in the seat next to you, they will move you, because you are presumed to be a pedophile. it only applies to men.


  79. 99 JanB
    March 9, 2010 at 19:21

    “The next counter argument will be that women simply aren’t as good at salary negotiating as men are.
    Fine, but then why do white men earn more than their male counterparts of other races? Is it also a matter of race? Are women and non-whites somehow less capable of negotiating? How does that work?


    All I know is that in the United States Asians make more money on average than whites who in turn make more money than blacks. At the same time more Asian kids go to college, and more whites than blacks go to college. Asians are the smallest of these groups so less likely to be discriminating others. So I’m pretty sure salary has more to do with education than with discrimination.

    Of course we all knew this because there isn’t some secret law that says female teachers or journalists, etc… should earn less per hour than men, at least not in the developed world.

  80. 100 gurt
    March 9, 2010 at 19:21

    Absolutely there is sexism against men. And?

  81. 101 Cabe UK
    March 9, 2010 at 19:29

    @Clamdip – Hi Clamdip! – Whoa ! >.. I wouldn’t go as far to say that the world would be better off with women in charge! !! Women have a natural inborn nurturing instinct its true but given all the freedoms of an equal society it doesn’t compute that they would use them!… Women in charge can be just as crazy-mad as the craziest and maddest men on the planet!… Don’t know if you guys every saw that series on TV with a bunch of women stuck on an island and were put in charge of all the men… The women ended up total evil dictator meglomaniacs … !.. Happy to just stick with equality for now! ( 🙂 )

  82. 102 gurt
    March 9, 2010 at 22:38

    Yes, Asians do have a higher household income (because they have more earners per household) and nor statistically significantly higher incomes per capita.
    “The only exception was among the holders of graduate degrees who constitute 8.9% of the population. Among those with a Master’s, Professional or Doctorate degree those who identified as White had the highest median individual income.”
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006

    To date I have yet to see a study or any sort of fact that supports that education gives women the same salary as men for same work/ position / hours etc.
    In fact every single study, census, paper I’ve seen points to quite the opposite. Women are still lagging something like 15% behind.

    Even in occupations traditionally considered female oriented.
    In nursing for example women working full time make $424 a week to a median of $485.

    That said. I don’t think women are more peaceful, or better than, or nicer than men.
    I just think that we should accept that there is a salary discrepancy and that it needs to be addressed.

  83. 103 Clamdip
    March 10, 2010 at 07:37

    Cabe UK,
    How would the world know if they’ve never tried it. There seem to be alot more evil, meglomaniacal dictator men controlling the world selling children as sex slaves, trafficking body parts, drugs, weapons and spraying phosphorous on innocent people. These acts seem to be the domain of men. Ideas that come from the evil recesses of developmentally arrested brains.

  84. 104 Mamerito in Kampala
    March 10, 2010 at 09:21

    They deserve some help in some extent in some part of the world like in my country. Reason, some societies still believe women are still a weaker sex and educating a girl child is a waist of money. But we should not only emphasize the women.

  85. 105 JanB
    March 10, 2010 at 13:49

    When you look at only fulltime workers Asians beat whites at every educational level. When you look at everyone, including part time workers and homemakers you see whites beat Asians, this suggests that Asians do have more part time workers and homemakers so less earners per household.

  86. 106 Halima
    March 11, 2010 at 07:20

    There is always resistance to change. It is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. 🙂
    Positive discrimination worked in the US – it had plenty of detractors for the same reasons listed above. There is a point in situations of inequality when the equality has to be forced if there is to be change. That brings with it all the uncomfortable elements of force, but it is the balance. Sometimes it is necessary. Inequality in an issue that will not go away by itself – it needs help. It will be mostly males who object but so be it.

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