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What’s wrong with merit? Why ‘equal’ treatment does not reward the most deserving

Just one woman has been appointed to new prime minister Tony Abbott’s first Cabinet of 19. As a result, online forums have been abuzz with debate about gender representation in federal politics.

A number of explanations have been proposed as to why female Liberal MPs remain “knocking on the door” of Cabinet positions. Yet some have also denied there is any problem with new foreign minister Julie Bishop being the only woman on the frontbench.

One of the most frequent excuses drawn on to explain Australia’s overwhelmingly male parliament is the concept of “merit”. According to the logic of merit, a person who demonstrates the highest aptitude for a job, a spot at university, or even a place in the federal Cabinet should be selected regardless of any other factors.

It seems fair on the surface. A person who has worked hard and shown qualities superior to all other candidates should be successful.

Link to full-text at The Conversation


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