Is patronizing women called feminism these days?

“There’s no hope for me with those investment banking applications”, – I had a friend complaining. «To be at least considered, I’d have to be either gay or a woman!” I rolled my eyes in disbelief. However, a couple of recruitment events later, the irony seemed apparent: once male only professions, such as investment banking, are quite desperate to fill their female quotas. In fact, the number of female-only recruitment events oftentimes is comparable to the number of regular events.

What’s wrong with female-oriented events and the like? – you might ask. Nothing in particular. It’s just that they give me this uncomfortable feeling of being subjected to greenhouse treatment. After all, women are not a minority. Nor are they incapable of competing on equal terms with men. Then why give men yet another reason of seeing us as a weaker part of society?

If economics has anything to teach us about gender equality, it is that female quotas are not going to solve the problem of lack of women in certain industries. In fact, artificial restrictions actually worsen the problem. Just as in international trade quotas depress volumes and inflate prices, in the labor market they lead to sub-optimal resource allocation. It’s not uncommon that patronizing women at the workplace is the result of ex ante expectation of lower entry requirements for female applicants. Hence, even if a woman is professionally an equal of her male colleagues, she’ll still have to overcome this bias. Proving her worth can be emotionally draining and thus divert resources from the business.

Sweden deserves the status of one of the most egalitarian countries in the world. Paternity leave is almost as common here as maternity leave. Or so it seems from morning walks, as daddies with child carriages occupy the streets. That is a fine achievement of feminist movement. With equally available chances for self-development, women can achieve no less than men. If I had to formulate my feminist motto, it’d be: “Give us an opportunity, not a quota!”


Credit for the image: The image is taken from the movie Working Girl.


Written by Marta

24 May 2015