Groundbreaking ideas and research for engaged leaders
Rotman Insights Hub | University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management Groundbreaking ideas and research for engaged leaders
Rotman Insights Hub | University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Myth: Gender quotas thwart meritocracy

Myth: Gender quotas thwart meritocracy

The issue of whether to implement gender quotas for leadership positions, boards, political parties, and other groups is hotly debated. Some have argued that quotas are necessary to push gender equality forward and create a more level playing field. Others believe that implementing quotas gives an unfair advantage to women who do not deserve these positions: if they did deserve them, they would achieve them on their own merit. In other words, they perceive that gender quotas thwart meritocracy. We bust this myth with leading experts to show how quotas can actually be more beneficial than harmful.

Research Mentioned:

1. Jones, S. (2017). White Men Account for 72&percnt of Corporate Leadership at
16 of the Fortune 500 Companies. https://fortune.com/2017/06/09/whitemen-senior-executives-fortune-500-companies-diversity-data/

2. Duchin, R., Simutin, M., and Sosyura, D. (2021). The Origins and Real
Effects of the Gender Gap: Evidence from CEOs' Formative Years. The
Review of Financial Studies 34(2), 700-762.

3. Besley, T., Folke, O., Persson, T., and Rickne, J. (2017). Gender quotas and
the crisis of the mediocre man: theory and evidence from Sweden. American
Economic Review 107(8), 2204-2042.

4. Murray, R. (2014). Quotas for Men: Reframing Gender Quotas as a Means of
Improving Representation for All. American Political Science Review 108(3),
520-532.

5. Kim, D. and Starks, L. T. (2016). Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards: Do
Women Contribute Unique Skills? American Economic Review 106(5), 267-271.

6. He, J. and Kaplan, S. (2017). The debate about quotas. Institute for Gender and
the Economy. https://www.gendereconomy.org/the-debate-about-quotas/

7. Rivera, L.A. and Tilcsik, A. (2019). Scaling Down Inequality: Rating Scales, Gender
Bias, and the Architecture of Evaluation. American Sociological Review 84(2), 248-
274. 

Rainbow MurrayProf. Rainbow Murray is an expert on gender politics, representation and political institutions, with particular expertise in French politics and secondary expertise in British and comparative politics.  She has been at QMUL since 2007, during which time she has also held visiting fellowships at the London School of Economics, the Centre for Research on French Politics (CEVIPOF Paris), and the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris). She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Daehyun KimProf. Daehyun Kim is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Rotman School. His research has been published in the American Economic Review. His work has garnered considerable attention from the public as well as international media. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Alyson Colón is associate director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the Rotman School. Prior to joining the Institute for Gender and the Economy, Alyson served as the PhD program coordinator at the Rotman School. She has also held senior roles in the non-profit sector, including work as a gender auditor for international development organizations. She holds a Master’s degree in Women and Gender Studies from U of T, and a post-graduate certificate in Fundraising and Volunteer Management from Humber College.

Carmina Ravanera is a research associate at the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the Rotman School. She perviously served as an analytics manager at the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, held research and writing roles at the London School of Economics and Western University, and worked in international development organizations in India and the Philippines. She holds a master’s degree in Gender, Development and Globalization from the London School of Economics, and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Development from McGill University.