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Speaker: Gender quotas (and helping journalists with their maths)

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  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Organisations in the political domain?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis,

    Graeme's example proves the limits of the "only choose on merit" argument in relation to political candidates.

    The A's were able to do what they did because:
    (1) Baseball has defined rules that clearly establish the objectives of the game - you must score more runs than your opponents to win;
    (2) Baseball has lots and lots and lots of data that allows you to work out which players doing which things will best help you to achieve the objective in (1).
    This then allows you to make very, very precise judgments about the effect that choosing one player over another will have on the team's ability to win games. So "merit" is reducible down to some fairly simply factors - does this pitcher have a lower ERA than others? Does this batter get on base more often than others? etc, etc, etc.

    (In the A's case, of course, they were early adaptors to the idea that the data was of far greater predictive value than the subjective assessments of individual scouts, which (for a while) gave them a comparative advantage over their competitors.)

    Turning to the field of politics, there is nothing like (1) or (2) available. We could start a list of what the objective of politics is ... and I'll bet we will generate a comment thread of several hundred entries, no two of which exactly align. And even if we could come up with a list of commonly agreed objectives for politics (which we can't), there is nothing to tell us with mathematical certainty what sort of candidate will better enable a party to attain that objective than another.

    Which means in the field of political candidatures, we go for generalised approximations - just like the baseball scouts did in the pre-Money Ball era. So, we do the political equivalent of looking at a baseball player's "athleticism", their "temperament", whether they have an "easy swing", etc, etc, etc. All of which carry subjective biases - the "merit" of a given potential candidate vis-s-vis another depends on what it is you start out looking for, because you assume a "good player" has these things. And we know - because history is good at telling us some things - that what it is people look for in political candidates is deeply gendered in nature, irrespective of how hard they try to correct for it.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    At times like this I wish PAS had a +1 or favourite button, because I would mash it on Andrew's comment so hard.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    May we compromise on “lesser”?

    The lesser MPs are the ones in danger of demotion.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    We ended up with elections, I guess, because at some stage, we realised having hereditary rulers was a crock

    We ended up with elections because a faction amongst those in power thought (correctly) that they could advance and cement their position by enlisting the less powerful in support:
    - Colonial Americans like Washington wanting rid of British rule
    - Factory owners in England wanting to displace the landed aristocracy
    - UK tories wanting a political advantage over the mainly Liberal mill owners

    etc.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The Oakland Athletics?

    Nope. They select to a formula that advantages less meritorious individuals on the basis of mathematical percentages. Not the same thing at all.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    And we know – because history is good at telling us some things – that what it is people look for in political candidates is deeply gendered in nature, irrespective of how hard they try to correct for it.

    Are our political expectations heavily differentiated by gender? Intuitively, I'm inclined to agree, but are you saying there's historical evidence for it?

    we go for generalised approximations – just like the baseball scouts did in the pre-Money Ball era. So, we do the political equivalent of looking at a baseball player’s “athleticism”, their “temperament”, whether they have an “easy swing”

    I'm curious then to know what the political proxies in fact are. Certainly, Labour has had trouble when recruiting from outside the membership and 'de-listing' seems a long way off.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Boyack, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    RoO, you've started to stray into the other argument I have about the 45 and 50%, which is the right of women in the Party to organise. I'm a trade unionist by day (and night!), and we acknowledge the power imbalance between workers and employers, so we organise, collectively. It's no secret there is a structural power imbalance between men and women as collectives, which is played out in our access to fair pay, leadership positions, living violence-free etc, etc. Power imbalances often need mechanisms to correct them, which is what the Party's women have done, with many of the Party's men recognising the issue and supporting the women.

    If we get onto the merit argument, I think most on this thread recognise that we all have a different view of what 'merit' is, in the same way we all have a different view of what 'common sense' is. Also, Parliament is a House of Representatives, not the 'House of the smartest' or the 'House of those with the most power'. It currently isn't representative of women, and by a large number.

    My beef with Gower is that he suggested 'demotions' based on faulty logic. We can argue and crystal ball gaze over what the actual PV will be in 2014, but it will certainly be higher than the 2011 disaster and so there will be room for many more MPs, including more men. There will also be retirements, which will create room for more MPs. Political analysis based on hysteria, not logic, urks me.

    Nelson, New Zealand • Since Apr 2008 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to Paul Williams,

    Are our political expectations heavily differentiated by gender?

    What I meant to say is that if you look back over the history of representation in NZ (and elsewhere), the sort of qualities that are thought to make a "good" candidate are things that men (on the whole) are more likely to possess and display - hence the gendered nature of our concept of "merit" in this area, and why the overwhelming majority of people chosen as representative just happen to have penises.

    I’m curious then to know what the political proxies in fact are.

    I think we see this every time a political pundit opines on why such-and-such an individual is a good politician - their "decisiveness", their "strength", their "determination", etc, etc. All of which are good things when men do it, but for a woman ...?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Having said that, while I think Labour’s move is an admirable one, we shouldn’t fool ourselves that it is going to be easy in practice. It requires a couple of tricky judgment calls:

    I'm curious as to how they do it practically, but in reality in terms of end results, list order only matters for about 10 places. At that point there might need to be a bit of male/female/male/female going on to ensure that if their vote goes up or down by 2% that the overall % doesn't change too much.

    But the top 20 places? You could list the top 11 male and next 9 female and be guaranteed that those places fulfill the 45% requirement. Depending on how much party vote you get you could fill the top 22 with males and the next 18 with females and know that the % is right.

    Obviously there's a lot more politics and all that involved with list rankings, but in terms of the quota the top 40ish slots don't matter in terms of which are male and which are female, as long as enough are female.

    And electoral seats. There's probably 5 electoral seats which are very marginal and which could reasonably affect the outcome. The rest you could be pretty confident about.

    But those electoral results only matter if those candidates aren't listed in the top 40ish list seats that you know Labour will win based on your polling. So it's probably only one or two that can actually make a difference to achieving the quota - the Labour candidate that stands off the list and wins the West Coast etc.

    Okay, I’ve done the quantitative. Now to take issue with the qualitative.

    It's hardly ever going to be true, but it's not an unreasonable assumption to make as a median. And in lieu of some brilliant method to select 'merit' in a non-sexist way in a sexist world.

    The Oakland Athletics?

    Except can females even play in that league? I mean if a female baseball player was good enough to be drafted or contracted could they select her?

    If not, is there even a valid comparison to be made to the Labour party?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Rachel and Stephen are definitely right on "oh no teh demotion of menz" issue. But it's also true that, over the long term, we can't rely on the list to balance out an imbalanced electorate caucus, and that's (one reason) why chucking female only selections under the bus was an atrocious idea.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I can imagine John Tamihere is seriously thinking about gender reassignment already...
    (I mean, how hard could it be, right?)

    Going on JT's past form it'd be a piece of piss. All you need to do is move one body part from the back to the front.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Bless you for all that work. But you will see that the spreadsheet includes a lot of scenarios, not simply the one you picked to critique.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Again, it seems obvious to me that a lawyer's training is not one that best equips you for statistical analysis.

    Just because we respect your legal capability does not mean we have to extend that to other areas of expertise.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I dunno, tricky with his head already up his arse.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I think the methodology is wrong there. There are never the same two teams being played and while the history contributes to the mythology it is not as predictive as you might think. Especially in the MMP era where I'm a Labour party supporter but I keep voting Green because Labour keeps shooting itself.

    Anyhow I think it is a massive distraction from the important points. We need more women in parliament so lets make that happen. There are definitely some male Labour MP's who should be stepping down because they are past their use by date.

    I don't think anyone should be too fussed by the actual calculations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 366 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rachel Boyack,

    Also, Parliament is a House of Representatives, not the ‘House of the smartest’ or the ‘House of those with the most power’. It currently isn’t representative of women, and by a large number.

    This. More than anything else on this thread.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    their “decisiveness”, their “strength”, their “determination”, etc, etc

    I do like those qualities. Hell, they're strongly evident in my household of three women, one man. How about 'empathy', 'intelligence' and 'open mindedness' for additions. Judith Collins displayed none of them in the House today or yesterday...

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Graham, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Another argument I considered including, but left out for length, is this: please show me an organisation that claims to select on merit and actually does.

    I don't know how we are supposed to judge the 'merit' of MPs, but the Green Party puts a lot of women in parliament. How do they do it?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2011 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    But he'd still be a dickhead.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2896 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Peter Graham,

    I don’t know how we are supposed to judge the ‘merit’ of MPs, but the Green Party puts a lot of women in parliament. How do they do it?

    I think it's because they actually treat women as people.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to nzlemming,

    I think it’s because they actually treat women as people.

    Well, they have always (I think) run a "zipped list" - alternating female/male/female/male (and then also considering other matters such as ethnicity, etc in the overall individual rankings). Which guarantees at least 50% women representing the party - which in turn probably makes standing as a candidate a somewhat more attractive proposition to female Green Party members (he speculates, being neither female or a Green Party member).

    Of course, the Greens are list-only in their representation, so don't have the complications of electorate MPs (who are predominantly male) to consider. Which is why Labour can't rely on adopting a similar, pretty simple measure to ensure gender equality.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    Of course, the Greens are list-only in their representation, so don’t have the complications of electorate MPs (who are predominantly male) to consider. Which is why Labour can’t rely on adopting a similar, pretty simple measure to ensure gender equality.

    It's only a matter of time before that has to be taken into account ;-) (and I'm not a member of any party, before anyone asks)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Calder,

    Paddy Gower is to political reporting what Glasgow skinheads are to street theatre ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Thanks for enlightening me. So elections are a male construct? ... time it was taken over

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1887 posts Report Reply

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