Washington Post opinion writer Catherine Rampell has noticed that quotas harm even their intended beneficiaries.
After examining a number of studies of the effect the policies in various European countries of mandating quotas for women on the corporate boards of big companies, she notes that this research finds that “forcing companies to appoint women onto their boards has been somewhere between unhelpful and damaging, both to women aspiring to leadership roles and for the companies themselves.”
One of the objectives behind such quotas is to improve the career and pay prospects of women further down the line, but a recent study of Norway’s system finds no evidence of a trickle-down effect for other high-achieving women or on the marital, fertility and career plans of other women. Quotas may, in fact, hurt women’s opportunities if they lead to women being perceived as unqualified, unwanted diversity hires.
Quotas, of course, are not alone in having this unintended but entirely predictable and demonstrated effect. Preferential treatment in admission, hiring, and promotion (aka “affirmative action”), even though it is ostensibly somewhat shy of European-style hard quotas, also produces the perception (based in large part on reality, as revealed by the now well-documented “mismatch” effect) that those who receive the preferential treatment are less qualified “diversity hires.”