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

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Hunger Games whatever.

    Write me a one-pager and I’ll get it into NZOn Air. I think we’re onto a winner.

    Surely we want THUNDERDOME. Two men enter - one man leave.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Don't make me test this assumption by going over past lists!

    but will it be a statistically significant number of demotions compared to prior to the policy. Since there are more men, the raw number of men likely to be demoted is likely to be higher than the raw number of women. But to numerically make the cause that the policy caused (or even the numerically softer correlates to) demotions, that would have to shift the proportions before and after the policy, the standard amount of change is just noise for the purposes of this question.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    just used the result pages and a calculator.

    Good enough, thanks for the links

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

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

    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • AdamPope,

    To use Stephen's example on Rachel's math, we'll just give the kids a bigger cake. Johnny gets a bigger slice even as it's only half this time...

    Sorry, Rachel, I'm picking at a crumb there when the menu fills me with joy; still a long way to go mind...

    London • Since Jul 2013 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    Aunty government...

    Surely we want THUNDERDOME

    Run by a woman, IIRC....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I freely grant you're right in the sense that every new party list is likely to see some sitting MPs fare poorly.

    Well, not if you just rank your sitting MPs as 1-34 on the party list (as has happened in the past).

    But that cheap and completely unnecessary display of one-upmanship aside, I agree there will be some shifting of the furniture for 2014, and also think Graeme is right that this will see some current male MPs "demoted" (as in, given lower list placings in 2014 than in 2011). But that doesn't necessarily mean there will be less male MPs than presently -- even if Labour doesn't achieve the heroic leap in support that the current polls appear to show, it will do substantially better than in 2011. So there are going to be more places for Labour individuals in Parliament (and so a lower list spot may well be good enough to elect those moved down.)

    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:

    (1) A prediction as to which electorate seats it will win, and the sex of the MP thereby elected;

    (2) A prediction as to the likely share of the party vote, so you can know where on the list the likely cut-off for list MPs will fall (and also note, this prediction has to be made by nomination day at the latest, which is a good month before election day).

    Get either of these wrong, and you can end up under-or-over shooting the quota by a margin. Which then raises the question: do you configure the list to guard against under shooting (i.e. put a larger number of women in the top list slots, in case more electorate MPs (who tend to be male) than planned for get elected), or do you accept the risk of undershooting by sticking with your working assumptions on electorates and structuring the list so that if the assumptions are right, you hit your 45% number (but if its wrong, you'll miss it)?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    But that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be less male MPs than presently

    Oh please! Fewer male MPs. :-) #oneupmanship

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan,

    While it's nice to tie the next election to an election in 1922 (and onwards) I don't think its very relevant. The MMP elections I think are more so and from those I see there can be big changes for both parties between elections.

    I expect that the margin between both main parties will close up during the election and I don't think its out of order to predict Labour getting very close to 40 percent The Greens close to 10 and National close to 45

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 221 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oh please! Fewer male MPs. :-) #oneupmanship

    May we compromise on "lesser"?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Boyack,

    Thanks Graeme, yes, I popped the figures for a 34% and 38% PV up earlier. Ben Wilson makes the point that the 2005 National result came off their worst result in 2002, and I've made an assumption that our PV will lift significantly from 2011 to 2014 based on a swing and an improvement in voter turnout. I don't think that's an unreasonable assumption. We're currently polling at 33.5% which is 6 percentage points higher than where we landed in 2011. It's something I agree with Shane Jones on - we should be aiming high if we want to earn the right to the Treasury Benches. Regarding Paddy's use of the word 'demotion', it implies men losing their current placings on the list in a future list. When you assume an increase of PV on 2011 (even a 6 point increase based on where we are now), and the requirement for 45% women, the maths doesn't deliver any demotions.

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

  • Graeme Edgeler,

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

    Men: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J
    Women: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J

    An equal selection looks like this:

    Men: A B C D E
    Women: A B C D E

    Why are the best male and the best female assumed to be equally meritorious? Why aren’t there two A grade women?

    The assumptions inherent in this analysis are also heroic. The best male and best female seeking a position are equally good. Every highly ranked male is better than every slightly lower ranked female, etc.

    You might be right. It strikes me as unlikely, but it's possible, but this simply does not address the argument that others are putting. It rather proceeds on the basis that the argument that it is possible that the sixth best man might occassionally be a more meritorious candidate than the fifth best woman is wrong. It is not stated why it is false, just that it is. This is where those arguing for “merit” over “quota” disagree with you, and you do not address their argument at all.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rachel Boyack,

    When you assume an increase of PV on 2011 (even a 6 point increase based on where we are now), and the requirement for 45% women, the maths doesn’t deliver any demotions.

    Except it may require that if you select a disproportionate number of men to contest electorate races (after all, you didn't adopt the man ban, so this is possible), which, if increase your overall vote share, you become more likely to win. Labour won 22 electorates at the last general election, six of which were won by women.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    hidden genders...

    May we compromise on “lesser”?

    phew, er...
    or leave it as "laissez-faire" even...
    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    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 have yet to see one. Sexism is systemic and structural. So to suggest "just select on merit" elides the very real difficulties in achieving an objective measure of merit that is unaffected by sexism.

    My thought experiment is intended only to show that a quota, all other things being equal, is better than an existing sexist selection. There will be cases where that isn't so, but over time, and with any reasonable sized set of numbers, quotas are better than sexism, and this illustrates the principle nicely.

    I actually wrote a little simulation to exercise this, and very consistently, while a "pure merit" scenario is best, an even quota is close to it and better than a sexist selection -- see http://pastebin.com/CfFnMjDT if you have a Python installation to play with.

    If you have 100 men, and 100 women, with an average merit score of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 (which I chose because that's the classic IQ model), and you do a bunch of runs, you end up with something like the below. "pure" is the aggregate score of the top 10 people; "equal" is the aggregate of the top 5 men and top 5 women; "sexist" is the top 7 men and the top 3 women.

    Averages - pure:1307, equal:1304, sexist:1298
    Averages - pure:1307, equal:1303, sexist:1298
    Averages - pure:1307, equal:1304, sexist:1297
    Averages - pure:1305, equal:1302, sexist:1296
    Averages - pure:1305, equal:1301, sexist:1296
    Averages - pure:1305, equal:1302, sexist:1296
    Averages - pure:1305, equal:1302, sexist:1296
    Averages - pure:1306, equal:1302, sexist:1297
    Averages - pure:1305, equal:1302, sexist:1296
    Averages - pure:1306, equal:1303, sexist:1297

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Competent men and women, folks. Competency comes first.

    We ended up with elections, I guess, because at some stage, we realised having hereditary rulers was a crock. They pandered to their own self interest, the rest of us could eat shit, or so it seemed, to a lot of them. And now Doh!key and co. have come up with a modern version of buggering those who arent in the same monetary class as them.(Well NZ’s version of it).
    Having an understanding of how policies will affect lives and empathy, seems to me, to be just as important as competency.
    (whatever you mean by that, in what field?)Politics shouldnt become a rarified environment where only those who can play the game well and who fulfil some nebulous criteria(like morality) get a look in.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • flash, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

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


    Men: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J
    Women: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J

    An equal selection looks like this:

    Men: A B C D E
    Women: A B C D E

    Why are the best male and the best female assumed to be equally meritorious? Why aren’t there two A grade women?

    The assumptions inherent in this analysis are also heroic. The best male and best female seeking a position are equally good. Every highly ranked male is better than every slightly lower ranked female, etc.

    You might be right. It strikes me as unlikely, but it's possible, but this simply does not address the argument that others are putting. It rather proceeds on the basis that the argument that it is possible that the sixth best man might occassionally be a more meritorious candidate than the fifth best woman is wrong. It is not stated why it is false, just that it is. This is where those arguing for “merit” over “quota” disagree with you, and you do not address their argument at all

    Absolutely, exactly right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • flash, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    please show me an organisation that claims to select on merit and actually does

    so to counter this you introduce a policy to select on merit only AFTER you have been selected on the basis of your gender?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Boyack, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Yep, that's why we will work off the "effective list", which takes those Electorate seats into account. We will have a reasonably good idea of which seats we will win and which we won't. Looking at the the Electorate seats we lost, 21 candidates from those 48 seats were women. That's 43.75%. I haven't got time to go through the one's I would pick as 'marginal' (maybe a job for later).

    Also, 7 women won Electorate seats for Labour in 2011: Louisa Wall, Annette King, Ruth Dyson, Megan Woods, Lianne Dalziel, Clare Curran and Nanaia Mahuta. If Poto wins ChCh East (she will) and of course, with the addition of Meka, we have 8 Electorate seats held by women.

    We're actually not far off the 45%, so with growth in PV, delivering on the 45% women without demoting men will not be a problem.

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

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    please show me an organisation that claims to select on merit and actually does

    It seems to me that the selection process in jobs is rather like democracy generally, in that one of the principle aims is to actually keep out the really bad candidates, rather than to ensure the best ones. So I tend to agree - selection into a political role amongst a couple of people whose talent is similar is not going to be critical in terms of the quality of their work. But in terms of the other main function of democratic leadership, representation, quotas do actually ensure fairness in one dimension.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Boyack,

    There is international evidence that in a job interview, if you have the following candidates: a) assertive man b) passive man c) assertive woman d) passive woman, the following is the likely order of being hired:

    Assertive man
    Passive man
    Passive woman
    Assertive woman

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

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to flash,

    so to counter this you introduce a policy to select on merit only AFTER you have been selected on the basis of your gender?

    My remark about how organisations that claim to select purely on merit don't shouldn't be taken as mere snark. It is very hard to do in this context. Women succeeded in modern symphony orchestras once audition set up was changed to make it impossible for the judges to see the player. I don't see any tests for selecting candidates for a party that could be applied objectively. I mean it would be great to select purely on merit, whatever the hell that is, but attempts to do that leave us stalled at less than parity.

    My model has the assumption that an organisation intends to select on merit, but isn't good at it, on account of structural sexism.

    Another thing I should say is that I can certainly imagine that if our bar for meritoriousness is very very high, so that even in a big pool of people only a very few meet the bar, that sometimes there will be more men in the top n selections than women. But in a fair environment, that should just as often be the other way around. And it never is. Which strongly suggests to me that maleness is an unconscious part of how we judge "merit". A quota isn't as good as pure merit, but evidence is that we can't do pure merit, and a quota beats sexism.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Attachment

    With some hurried lunchtime calculations. Taking only the general election election results (so assuming current polling, and the actions of the party, doesn't actually matter), and abusing a loess line into something of a straight regression so I can extend it, we set the centre of the range of likely results for the 2014 election as being 32.35% of the vote for Labour, 42.59% for National.

    So, as a starting point (and acknowledging that this is ignoring polling), I'd be curious as to what would be the effect with 32.35% of the vote (I realise it will be fairly close to the figure for 33.5% based on current polling earlier, so one or two more men).

    csv of election results
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/vhw3mhgga02npac/LabNatVot.csv
    hastily written R code
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/6xut1xo6wi2h8ve/LabNatVot.R

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Great thread/discussion. I'm a Labour member like others here, but far from active as I don't live in NZ. I noted the development and the commentary but wanted to learn more, which I most certainly have here. Thanks all. It seems the issue is not the merits of the approach, which I also support, but how to implement it. I do think a close scrutiny of the performance of the current caucus is entirely reasonable. I'm certainly more enthusiastic about some than others.

    FWIW, I also think Labour needs to weight 'experience' a little more highly.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    please show me an organisation that claims to select on merit and actually does.

    The Oakland Athletics?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

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