She got there on merit

The majority of people surveyed by Herald-DigiPoll  are opposed to Labour’s policy to have a female quote for its caucus.

The survey asked respondents whether they believed Labour’s target of achieving 50 per cent by 2017 was a good idea, or too restrictive.

Overall, 54 per cent said it was too restrictive, while just 38 per cent believed it was a good idea. Among the women respondents, 52 per cent said it was too restrictive while 42 per cent believed it was a good idea.

About 57 per cent of men did not like it, compared with 33 per cent who said it was a good idea.

Graeme Edgler tweeted that’s more people supporting the policy than the party.

A spokeswoman for Labour leader David Cunliffe said it was a matter for the party. Party president Moira Coatsworth and secretary Tim Barnett were overseas and could not be contacted.

Ms Coatsworth has previously said the target of 45 per cent of women in 2014, and 50 per cent in 2017 would be achieved by structuring the party list so the goal was reached if there were enough women candidates in safe seats. . .

Electoral law requires parties use democratic processes to rank their lists, does rigging it to get a gender quota count as democratic?

. . . Former Labour candidate and party member Josie Pagani said she was not surprised at the poll result because it was not an issue that affected most people’s lives. She believed the targets had drawn attention from other, more universal gender equity issues such as equal pay which Labour had strong policies on.

“The Labour Party doesn’t have a problem particularly with female representation in its caucus. It just put the focus on something that people aren’t sure is a problem at all.”

It’s worse than this.

Keeping Stock used the story as an opportunity for a Tui billboard competition.

This policy has gifted opponents a damaging one: She got there on merit. Yeah right!

Whether or not Labour’s female candidates were selected on merit, the policy raises the question – are they there because of their ability and what they can offer as MPs or just because they’re women?

Plenty of men have got into parliament without being the best candidate, but none have had their position undermined by the suggestion they are just there to make up the numbers.




65 Responses to She got there on merit

  1. Andrei says:

    Plenty of men have got into parliament without being the best candidate, but none have had their position undermined by the suggestion they are just there to make up the numbers.

    Actually all list MPs are there just to make up the numbers, their party numbers as determined by the “Party Vote”.

    What most people don’t understand is that identity politics, ie quotas for specified groups to have “a voice” in public discourse is in fact Marxism in disguise.

    The official identities called communities in the jargon are rigorously defined while other groupings of people you could imagine are excluded and their voices silenced – the most obvious of one such community would be Catholics, who in fact make up 10% of the population but who account for less than 2% of Parliament and the few Catholic MPs there are are remarkably subdued about that identity in the public square and the Catholic Bishops have little to no voice in political discourse.

    One of the oddest things that has occurred in my lifetime is the flip that has occurred between the East, where the Church is once again an important institution, and the West, where it is now marginalized.

    Last Tuesday (well Monday night)


  2. pdm says:

    `Electoral law requires parties use democratic processes to rank their lists, does rigging it to get a gender quota count as democratic?’

    The Greens don’t so Labour will just be falling into line with their main Coalition cohorts. It is the way of the left.


  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    While the Greens need to have at 40% of either sex this is generally not used to ensure a balance and we currently have more female MPs than males. As a male I do find that there is a general reluctance for competent woman to put themselves forward into leadership roles and in education some of the best female principals needed encouragement to apply. As we know there are more women completing degrees than men and yet it is generally harder for women to be promoted and earn the same pay for similar work.

    Dame Jenny Shipley is currently promoting the need to lift women into leadership roles in business. She is convincingly arguing that companies that have a better balance of men and women on their boards or in leadership tend to perform better than those that don’t. The fact that more women aren’t in leadership role isn’t because they lack merit. I have had many women tell me that they have to work much harder perform much better than their male colleagues to get the same recognition.

    It is not that we lack competent women, as you would agree, what we need to do is ensure that parties have cultures that support women and recognise the advantages of having both perspectives involved in decisions. I would be interested to know the explanation for why only a 1/4 of National’s MPs are female, the worst ratio of all parties of significance.

    In 2010 the Young Nats even tried to have one of their most active female members struck off and I remember the blogger Cactus Kate remarking at how bizarre this was when there were so few females were involved in the party.

    Holly Walker will be an MP while juggling the role of a new mother. She is very aware of the challenges that this will involve but Holly is determined that a young mother’s perspective is present in Parliament so that a large part of our society has representation. It is for the same reason that Mojo Mathers has an important role representing the 600,000 New Zealanders who have a disability. The sad fact is that sectors that are not represented in parliament tend to be disadvantaged by legislation.

    At one time women were not allowed to vote at all and our parliamentary institutions have been largely dominated by male cultures for some time. The only women in the past, like Marilyn Waring, who could survive in that culture were very able and remarkable people. We could continue to say that women must negotiate male dominated institutions (like the National Party) and earn merit based on largely male generated criteria or we could say that women make up 51.3% of the population, tend to be better educated than men, perhaps they should have 50% representation. To wait for a culture change is just supporting an ongoing imbalance, sometimes arbitrary measures are needed achieve a just result.


  4. Andrei says:

    sometimes arbitrary measures are needed achieve a just result.

    What defines “a just result”, Dave Kennedy?

    Our goal should be to create a society where as many as possible can live rich, fulfilled lives in dignity and how to support those who fall through the cracks, as some, alas, always will.

    One reason why I loath the left is their continual sowing the seeds of dissatisfaction, discord and envy to achieve political power and their ends.

    We can and should debate how best to improve the society that will be our children’s inheritance but rigidly defining a Parliament to have 50% female representation will help no-one, except perhaps the 10 or so women who get a place at the trough in the here and now, through such a silly policy


  5. Mr E says:

    There is a line between supporting women to achieve roles and undermining them.
    The quota system (or “Man ban”) is an undermining policy in my opinion. Well and truly crossing the line. There are plenty of other things that can be done that don’t undermine. I think Labour should think more seriously about those.

    Please Can the Man Ban. It is a sham.


  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    The “man ban” is a silly label when it is fairly obvious that men already dominate parliament and will not likely have less than 50% representation. Once it was thought silly to give women the vote and now it is thought silly to have equal representation in Parliament. We are not talking about two people applying for a single job but a party of around 10,000 members being able to put forward around 35 women who are capable of being effective MPs.

    I would be interested to know your answers to the following questions as your answers or non answers will probably support my argument.

    1) Why are only 1/4 of National MPs female?
    2) Is it just as easy for women to get promotion as men in business and political environments?
    3) What do you think are the reasons why we have fewer women in Parliament using the current ‘merit based’ system?


  7. inventory2 says:

    With regard to #3, I wish Holly Walker well in trying to combine the dual roles of motherhood and MP, but I am sure that reality will bite at some point.

    Let’s be frank; life as a parliamentarian is anything but family-friendly. Although Parliament’s sitting hours have been reduced in recent years, the demands placed on an MP are probably the biggest disincentive to women being attracted to the role of MP. If you’re not based in Wellington you must spend long hours away from home and family. And Parliament is notoriously tough on marriages and relationships.

    Holly Walker has one thing in her favour; as a list MP, she does not have the same constituency demands as an electorate MP has. Those who successfully manage to juggle the multiplicity of roles have my admiration.

    I do not believe that you can simply arbitrarily impose a quota on female representation. You cite the National Party Dave, but I’m sure that you will agree that the face of the National Party has changed markedly since the Muldoon and Even the Bolger years. That National has three women on its front bench, two of whom are Maori as well would have been largely unthinkable even a decade ago. And let’s not forget that New Zealand’s first female Prime Minister was Dame Jenny Shipley, leader of the National Party.

    The percentage of women in Parliament is increasing, but clearly it is not increasing fast enough for some. To feel however that you have to make that change by artificial or contrived means is patronising however, and actually demeans women.


  8. Andrei says:

    LOL – You left out National’s ultimate identity politics MP IV2, the female, Maori, Lesbian, maker of left wing films on the taxpayers dime MP. The identity politics trifecta in one list MP.

    No wonder Labour is disarray, what can they do when National steals their policies and people.


  9. Mr E says:

    1) Choice.
    2) In my experience, yes.
    3) Choice.


  10. Dave Kennedy says:

    I have shared the parenting role with my wife to allow her to continue working as a GP in a community that struggled to retain one. It wasn’t easy but it made sense and our children didn’t seem to suffer from having a father with a larger caring role. I know that Holly has great support from her husband. I am aware that few questions are asked when fathers of young children are MPs it is hard for both as Gareth and Russel could tell you. Developing a more family friendly parliament is probably a good thing if we are able to retain experienced people and have greater diversity in decision making.

    I accept that the National Party has increased the number of female MPs over time but in 2014 to still have only 25% is actually appalling. I have also noticed that the difference in pay between women and men has increased since National has been in power and the opportunities for struggling women have become more limited. Funding for rape crisis support has been cut, access to higher learning for largely female beneficiaries has been cut, $400 million was cut from the early childhood budget in the first term, the work on pay equity was wiped and there has been great reluctance to deal with the issues of child poverty in any meaningful way. It may not have been much different if National had more female MPs, but somehow I think it probably would.

    I can’t get my head around why we can’t just say we should have equal representation of men and women in Parliament when women obviously have more barriers to negotiate to get there. Who would we be demeaning? Who would we be disadvantaging?

    It does become problematic if we have quotas for minority groups but women are not a minority group, they make up over half the population and have issues, needs and roles that are often distinctly different from men. Equal representation just seems to make sense to me and once that is achieved it will erode the cultural barriers that have been established over hundreds of years and we will probably have even more good women considering parliament as a career.

    I have noticed that no one has even attempt to directly answer my earlier questions which is a statement in itself 😉


  11. Dave Kennedy says:

    Thanks for responding Mr E, in reference to your brief answers that provide little explanation:
    1) Why do fewer women not pursue parliamentary career from within the National Party compared to the others?
    2) I would be interested in women commenting on this.
    3) Does the current Merit based system still favor men when they probably dominate the decision making process?


  12. Mr E says:

    My comment was a little to concise, so I will elaborate.

    So few surveys exists about why or why not women select political roles. Instead of problem solving the barriers for entry, the Labour approach is ‘we can fix it by legislation’. It’s a silly solution for what is likely a social problem. You might get more women at a higher level, but it is likely a short term view. Once mail room candidates are pushed to the top and deliver embarrassing results there’s a risk political positions are viewed dimly and even fewer women select it as a carrier path. It’s an extreme view point- but displays my point.

    My advice to any party – Blue, red, orange, pink or rainbow – is find the barriers and seek to knock them down. Don’t short cut the barrier and think you’ve fixed it. It is silly.

    If I was in power – heaven forbid, I would seek to find the barriers through survey, then look to overcome those barriers. Not short cut them. You might go straight past the sand trap but fall in the water hazard.


  13. Mr E says:

    see below.


  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    Well done, you obviously have all those bases covered then 😉


  15. Andrei says:

    Mr E can you explain to me why this is a “problem” that needs solved?

    In what way will I or my children, you and yours or anybody else, with theirs have our/their lives and future prosperity enhanced by achieving a 50% split between men and women in Parliament.

    We seek good governance and should not allow ourselves to be sucked into this tosh. The only thing that matters is the quality of our MPs,


  16. Mr E says:

    1) It appears as though you are politicking – Trying to distract from the issue. Don’t throw stones at National. Focus on the policy. National clearly need some work.
    2) I’m not one. The ‘Mr’ in my title should give that away. But I have suggested a survey of barriers.
    3) If decision makers are favoured, political parties would never change. Perhaps as a Green Party member you should give up now?


  17. Dave Kennedy says:

    What you say is logical to a point Mr E, but what you are wanting is the dominant male group to instigate a study that will ultimately make it more difficult for themselves to retain power.

    “Once mail room candidates are pushed to the top and deliver embarrassing results…”

    The implication that there will be no able females capable of filling the roles is concerning in itself. This is a discussion about a party of over 10,000 members fronting 35 women who would be competent MPs (it may be a concern for National, however). It would be interesting to know why Labour pushed the rule in the first place, I could imagine that many women became sick of having to work harder than men to push through the system and even though they already have strong representation it would just remove some unnecessary pressure.


  18. Dave Kennedy says:

    Look at my earlier comment about what national has delivered for women through their competent MPs. Or is it that male issues are actually more important, like funding the RWC above supporting struggling one parent families (when most single parents are women)?


  19. Mr E says:

    Andrei – I like your question. I only view it as a problem because I like to see communities fairly represented in parliament. Eg. Can we expect the rights of others to be fairly represented by ourselves? Its a bit like me representing you a parliament. Could I do it as well as you? If we have equal ability, skill and knowledge, I think not. You would better represent yourself.


  20. Dave Kennedy says:

    As I mentioned on Facebook, there is some irony in the fact that we have a bunch of men discussing what is best for women…


  21. Mr E says:

    Come on Dave – Make it a policy… Win some votes. You don’t have a dominant male group. You’ve put pressure on the government before to make sensible policy – Do it again, just as I have.

    Regarding my mail room candidates comment, I was making an “extreme” example to display my point. Not referring to actual competency levels.

    Why have Labour pushed it? I can’t say for certain. But to me they appear to like policies that deliver something for nothing. ‘Handout’ solutions one might say. To me, that is not the Kiwi way. Most of us like to be recognised for who we are, not what we are. There are minorities that need a helping hand now and again – But women are not a minority and I doubt all are happy about being treated as such.


  22. Mr E says:

    I am saying lets ask. As you have too. If we need to change, as I believe we do, it starts with questions.


  23. Dave Kennedy says:

    That’s an excellent response Mr E, which is why women would be better at representing more than half the population than men would. There are strong arguments for arbitrarily ensuring that there is greater gender balance across most institutions as I have also found that it is also problematic when the balance tips to far to female dominance I find that when working in education school staff that have a good mix of male and female tend to be happier working environments. We actually need each other.


  24. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think the 50% quota has been badly managed and the ‘man ban’ nonsense hasn’t helped. I don’t actually think it is treating women as a minority but recognizing the barriers will take too long to fix and if a party has the comfort of having a quota they must have the comfort of knowing that it can easily be filled.

    I have observed that with National’s caucus that more women tend to rise up through the ranks than men once they have the opportunity to prove themselves. Having a quota for National may actually bring more competent MPs into the party and probably help National’s chances by attracting a greater number of women voters (I probably shouldn’t have mentioned this).


  25. Evelina says:

    Anyone who thinks our MPs are there based on “merit” should read this..


  26. Andrei says:

    But Mr E, I am not represented in Parliament fairly or otherwise – I am barely represented at all

    “Communities” is a buzz word, the way you have used it. It means certain carefully selected “identities” which are deemed worthy favour and of a voice. Other identities are shut out of public discourse almost entirely – that is the meaning of my original comment on this thread.

    This is what identity politics is all about and it is reinforced by MMP, it is not about giving citizens a voice it is about shutting people out of public discourse by only allowing those groups acceptable to the left to be allowed a say and marginalizing everyone else.


  27. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think this debate is useful to have and it actually isn’t really an issue for the Green party. What I find most interesting is the philosophical stance that power sharing at a National level is controversial and saying that arbitrarily giving 50% representation is demeaning for women.

    If we look at the global situation men are very reluctant to share power and are more aggressively competitive, but these traits are not a guarantee that they make a better job of governance although they are more likely to end up in these roles. Surveys and questions may be helpful but they will probably mainly enlighten the men and then waiting for them to respond may take a while. Women tend to be safer drivers (statistically), but does that change who drives the family car?


  28. Dave Kennedy says:

    Thanks Evelina, it did take a women to present the most convincing argument in the end.


  29. TraceyS says:

    Dave, I’m not so sure why you’d limit your concern to the National Party when 85% of your city council are men and so are 80% of mine.

    As for your questions, I think women can often see better ways of making it than in politics. And women tend to have lots on their bucket lists. A career in politics might make some other things difficult to achieve.


  30. Andrei says:

    Lol – Dave Kennedy,Stockholm syndrome methinks!


  31. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think you need to read Evelina’s contribution below.

    I don’t expect that all women (or even men for that matter) will want a career in politics. But I have come across too many good women who have been denied a career in politics because of the fact that they were female and one of our most effective local councillors did not stand for re-election because she was tired of the ‘old boy’ dominance and lack of adherence to planning and good process.


  32. Andrei says:

    Augustus ruled the Roman Empire, Livia ruled Augustus

    Genghis Khan conquered half the world to keep Borte content, she must have been a heck of a woman.

    The proto-feminist though was Yekaterina Alexeevna aka Catherine the Great , she stage a coup d’etat against her husband the Tsar and seized his throne, ruling in his stead for 34 years.


  33. Mr E says:

    Sorry Dave but I think it is demeaning. I say that from a perspective of a male who would hate being treated in that manner. Would you be OK with it Dave. Promoted because your Dave, not because you are good at it?

    Women are safer drivers – and the action is to focus education efforts on young males. Under a quota system- if we banned males from the steering wheel, would it make them better drivers and more capable on the roads? I think they would likely become worse. Young males would more likely be to play up, speed and act reckless. There are unintended consequences of quotas that cause backlashes.


  34. Dave Kennedy says:

    All you are proving is that throughout history we can find powerful women, you missed Queen Liz the first and Queen Victoria and you also missed that all of these women had to surmount much greater levels of resistance and bias to achieve anything.

    I’m not sure what your point is, is that women need to use their feminine wiles to influence male leaders decisions, or that women should emulate men to be leaders? I’m sorry you’ve lost me with this.


  35. Mr E says:

    It is anti democratic for me to suggest communities should be evenly represented. An ideology that has negative and positive implications for democracy.

    A philosophical question I am pondering – Is it fairer to achieve even representation or democratic representation? I am pondering it again and thinking on the Maori electorate as an example.


  36. Andrei says:

    I don’t know why you can’t see people as individuals, each with their own assets and liabilities, virtues and flaws but have to put them into boxes and treat them according to the rules of the box to which they have been assigned rather than on their own merits


  37. Dave Kennedy says:

    I don’t think that it is necessary to have quotas for drivers because as far as I know there are few barriers to limit men and women from driving accept perhaps at a personal relationship level. I was merely using it as an example that once we have the knowledge that women can perform just as well, if not better won’t necessarily change the culture. When we have an obvious imbalance at a governance level it may take more than having the information to change the culture. Change is happening but how long is reasonable to wait? How long did it take women to get the vote and how long may it take to achieve equal participation in Parliament (at our current rate).


  38. Mr E says:

    Convincing? Hardly. For nearly every point there, I have an personal answer that equally drives males (me) away from politics.

    This person appears to have victimised herself in a depressing way.

    It has drawn my attention to the issue from a males perspective. Should we have quota systems for hairdresser parlours, nursing etc. Strangely I don’t hear men complaining about it.

    Given your luscious lox Dave, I can see you moving up the ranks fast.


  39. Dave Kennedy says:

    What backlashes would you predict?


  40. Andrei says:

    This is why I vehemently opposed MMP Mr E.

    With FPP for all its flaws you looked at the candidates put before you and, in theory anyway, chose the individual you deemed best represented you and yours, was closest to you in world view, if you will.

    Now all sorts of agendas, often unstated, are being advanced to the detriment of us all and our kids futures in particular.

    My kids of gone to build their futures elsewhere because one identity our elites have failed dismally to foster is that of New Zealander and apart from any status building characteristic in our brave new world except employability they might just as well


  41. Dave Kennedy says:

    I totally agree, that would be the ideal. Sadly women are put into a restrictive box that allows them less movement than men.


  42. Andrei says:

    Sadly women are put into a restrictive box that allows them less movement than men.

    Rubbish Dave Kennedy – each one of us comes into the world with what we are given and we have to make the best of it.

    You can make the narrative that women are/were oppressed as was done in that silly post above you gushed over but you could make a parallel narrative for males/boys, the expectations put upon them and the injustices they endured in comparison to their sisters

    I strongly doubt that many New Zealand women were bemoaning the fact that they weren’t dying in cold muddy trenches during WW1 for example and seeing this as a grievance – its all in the narrative


  43. Mr E says:

    Promoting those less capable undermines the integrity of the career and therefore makes it less of a sort after career path.


  44. Mr E says:

    Although my reading of your posts, has me thinking you are disappointed with all representation. Would MMP have you happy with representation?


  45. Mr E says:

    I’ve met plenty of women who feel disappointed with the pressure to achieve a successful career.
    One in particular, I’ll whisper so not to get clipped around the ear, who wishes the time clock has was turned back 60 years.

    Dave, how many women will the ‘Man ban’ put unwanted pressure on?

    Does the ‘Man ban’ fit the green ideology of greater self sufficiency. Can we afford to have men and women tilling the vege garden when there are job quotas to fill?

    If ‘Man Ban’ is irritating, come up with another easy to use name.


  46. Judge Holden says:

    Yes, Mr E knows plenty of women pining for the days when they had no career options and it was legal for their husbands to beat them. Plenty. Of course he’s admitted he lies for money, so take that as you will.


  47. TraceyS says:

    “I think you need to read Evelina’s contribution below.”

    Oh for goodness sake Dave, don’t lecture me! Not all women grow up in nice comfy middle-class families for a start.

    Very, very little of that list can I relate to, I’m glad to say. In fact I part paths with her at the Barbie doll stage, having had to wait until about age seven to get one and even then it was not a ‘real’ Barbie but a Daisy doll. Mum recalls that upon unwrapping it I tore off the blouse and exclaimed my disappointment at the breast size. Clearly I wanted a Woman doll, not a little girl doll! (Daisy was more of an adolescent). Mum was so sad because a Daisy was what she could afford. God knows how long she had to save to buy that pretty little flat-chested doll.

    Between the ages of 5 and 10 my parents often have friends over for a few drinks. The parties go late into the night and I can’t sleep. The country music is horrible! I am already a night-owl but this is ridiculous! I get up to protest but everyone (men and women) is equally drunk and no-one is running around cleaning up. I become quite good at debating with unreasonable adults to get my needs met and to assert my rights. In the morning there is a big mess and both parents are incapacitated but get things cleaned up by the days end.

    I become belligerent, judgemental, and passionate. My talent (drawing) becomes an escape but also attracts lots of attention and praise. At 10 I’m picked to be an artist, but a (male) teacher at school thinks otherwise and encourages me to learn about civics, public speaking, and computers.

    At 12 my Dad makes me draw cartoon pictures of Mr Lange doing mean things to Mr Muldoon. I comply, but don’t understand this so become interested in NZ politics. Not allowed to stay up for the election, I strain to listen to the TV from the darkness of my bedroom. The result is announced and Dad exclaims a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. I wonder what that means.

    At age 13 my parents are now apart and Dad isn’t giving Mum any money or help (government should provide). She’s already pawned any family treasures handed down to her. I’ve decided my politics are different to Dad’s.

    Bags of good stuff arrive from relatives in Auckland and they beg Mum to move up there for a better life for the kids. She resists.

    At age 16 I’m beginning to understand what Dad meant by weight off his shoulders…In any case, it’s not happening like he wanted. No one’s taking responsibility for him. I try my best to. For a while. My shoulders aren’t wide enough.

    At age 16 I leave home abruptly.

    Between 18 and 24 I go to very few parties because I am living by myself, studying, working fulltime, and helping my boyfriend do his business books. Apart from him, very few cocky young “dudes” come across my path and when they do I can’t really give a sh*t what they have to say. The odd one at work annoys me but I know how to deal with them. My (male) boss respects me because I work hard for him and I am competent. Any complaint from me about the younger guys is handled by him with delight. One day some contractors whistle at me when we walk though a construction site in a remote-ish part of the country. Unbeknown to me he later goes down a gives them a right strop-up. The trips to Manapouri are a privilege anyway. And there’s one other woman there.

    At age 24 I am a senior manager with 40 staff. One day I am yelled at in a management meeting by a (male) colleague twice my age. It seems I pushed my position on advertising ethics too far. The other guys sitting round the table don’t say a word. I feel like crying, leave the room and re-enter when I’ve recomposed myself. That guy’s got some issues I thought. Some years later events did prove that thought correct.

    By 25 I’m exhausted and step back. I do very well-paid consulting work for six months in a male-dominated industry, then take a part time job with a government department that is well beneath my ability. I leave my hard-earned degree off my CV and play down my experience so they won’t consider me overqualified. It’s so boring, and there’s not enough to do that it’s hard not to fall asleep at my desk. A better-paid male colleague flirts and teases constantly, probably because he’s bored too. He’s funny though and it doesn’t bother me.

    By 27 I’ve returned to the private sector to work for a business that has a good company culture. It’s part luck, part planning – I want a relaxed pregnancy for my baby and me. It goes to plan except for frequent trips to Auckland. I ring from the hotel to tell my husband the good news. He’s got a client with him so I have to ring back later. In the meantime I lie on the luxurious bed wondering how life will change and what I should now be having for breakfast.

    By 29 I’ve had my first. My husband wants a stay-at-home Mum. My (female) boss wants me back part-time in few weeks. I agree to that. But it didn’t work out. The baby decided in the end. I’m still largely an “at home” Mum. The baby turns 12 tomorrow and he and his younger sibling are worth it. Absolutely no regrets. I’ve seen so many sides of life. It doesn’t pay to whinge. That gets you nowhere. The only satisfaction is from that which you’ve achieved yourself on fair terms with everyone else. And even that doesn’t compare to the satisfaction of giving birth and raising children.

    Life is what you make it. Men do not put women in boxes (nor vice versa) except when they die. These imaginary boxes do not exist.

    If a political party needs to have a quota system to promote women within its ranks, or a system of alternating men and women on the list, then it is promoting the wrong women in the first place.

    The right women are out there and Labour, National and our local Councils will find them eventually. Or not. Because the right women generally have lots of skills and choices of where to use them…


  48. Judge Holden says:

    Are you Aaron Gilmore?


  49. dave kennedy says:

    Tracey I’m sure you are a capable woman and made the right choices for yourself, but I do struggle to get your point. Are you saying that National supporting women like yourself are happy as stay at home Mums and feel that the men who dominate the National Party and the Government are collectively making the decisions that suit you. You are obviously more than happy that most female dominated jobs like home caring and working in rest homes are paid at the minimum rates and that women have the same opportunities to advance in the National Party as men.

    You also seem to be saying that competent female politicians are quietly waiting and hoping that they will be discovered and promoted. Why are they hiding?


  50. homepaddock says:

    I am better represented by National MPs of either gender than MPs from any other party regardless of whether they have two X chromosomes or not.

    MPs’ philosophies, policies and principles are far more important to me than their gender.


  51. TraceyS says:

    I am really not surprised that you don’t get me Dave. You asked for a woman’s perspective and I gave mine. You liked Evelina’s timeline, presumably because it is stereotypical or suited your purpose. It is no surprise that mine is somewhat unsettling to you.

    In case that you may have assumed me to be a happy, content, stay-at-home Mum/housewife, I am but not completely. It is possible to earn the respect of men and women alike without holding some high paid or high recognition role.

    I don’t think that competent female politicians are hiding at all. They are choosy because they can be. Men sometimes promote themselves out of a sense of duty or because others expect them to. I think women are better at resisting that and making their own choices. That is not failure on their part. Nor is it any indictment on the part of men.


  52. TraceyS says:



  53. dave kennedy says:

    I would have to agree with you regarding the policies before gender but I still believe the construction and realisation of those policies would be better when Governments and parties are more balanced.

    I still haven’t really had an answer why fewer women are successful in becoming MPs under National than in other Parties. But perhaps Tracey was trying to say that National men are just better at the job than the women, the merit selection process obviously shows that and perhaps more National women believe that the job is best left to the men.

    This has been an interesting discussion, but I think we will have to agree to disagree.


  54. TraceyS says:

    Anyone who says that women are better represented by women is actually being quite discriminatory. That’s like saying the majority of issues that women confront are “women’s stuff”. A very old-fashioned attitude!

    For a woman who is a truly equal operative in her field of work or endeavour, it is not the case that women are better representatives for women. The issues and problems that they confront on a daily basis are exactly the same as a man doing the same work and therefore can be represented by either gender just as well. This is true equality. Silly quotas are a fix-up job and cause harm to the cause for true, unmasked equality.

    The Green Party rejected a remit to alternate M/F genders on the list. Perhaps Dave would like to explain why?


  55. dave kennedy says:

    Tracey, Evelina’s time line was that of a politically ambitious woman who had to work far harder than the men around her to achieve her goals and found there were few role models for women who wanted the same things as herself.

    Your time line just demonstrated a path that did not lead to a political career, and I respect that, but this was a discussion about the barriers to those women who wanted a career in politics. Perhaps you and Ele are right to suggest that more National supporting women are happier to do other things and have their men dominate in corridors of power.


  56. TraceyS says:

    Go Dave! You’re a roll of assumptions and misinformation now, making all the kinds of mistakes that hurt ambitious womens’ prospects. Just like the silly quota system.

    Ambition does not need to be overt and women can find role models in any gender. I did. And no, it was no a male role-model of motherhood and housewifery!


  57. dave kennedy says:

    While the Greens obviously support gender balance, and we have more women in parliament, merit still has a roll to play in list ranking. The point in the discussion here was the merits of enforcing a 50/50 split within a major party and I was arguing the merits of that if the gender balance can’t be achieved through a culture shift. The Greens don’t really need to do this because we manage to achieve a good balance without arbitrary measures.

    Please understand I still think merit is important, but when a party has well over 10,000 members, as National has, one would think that they could find more than 15 woman who could present as strongly as the 44 men. I have also noticed some very able National Female MPs who seem to be ranked well beneath some struggling men. Obviously appearances aren’t everything but it does provide cause for thought 🙂


  58. TraceyS says:

    Competence must play the only role. There are no merits of enforcing a 50/50 split. None at all.

    If the Green Party is doing so well with F/M balance why not formalise it? Like protecting a heritage building or a conservation area. Put a ring around it so it will always be.

    But no, you want other parties to do it rather than get there in their own time and in accordance with their own culture.


  59. Judge Holden says:

    Your lengthy description of your own brilliance sounds just like Aaron Gilmore. Go look him up.


  60. Judge Holden says:

    Farmers are very very well represented by the current administration, that’s true. It’s everyone else who’s missing out.


  61. Judge Holden says:

    Are you saying the Nats only appoint on merit? Hard to explain Aaron Gilmore then isn’t it?


  62. homepaddock says:

    There are several reasons there are more male MPs than females in parliament and in National.

    It certainly isn’t anything to do with either the rules or culture of the National Party.

    I’ve been an active member of the party for more than 20 years. I seriously considered seeking selection at one stage and received nothing but support and encouragement from all levels of the party from the members who would have been voting in the selection up to and including the president (who was a woman at the time) and the leader (who was a man). I decided not to seek selection for several reasons, none of which had anything to do with gender.

    National electorate candidates are selected by voting delegates in that electorate who have been members for at least 6 months – unlike most other parties which are less democratic and more autocratic in their procedures.

    I’ve been involved in several selections and pre-selections. In two for large rural electorates which some might think would be more conservative, women won the selection and the electorate.

    The issue isn’t whether there are more men than women but whether there are barriers to those women who have the will and ability to be MPs which stop them standing, or succeeding when they’ve been selected.

    If there are, a quota will be treating the symptoms not addressing the problem.


  63. TraceyS says:

    That’s a stunning comment from someone calling themselves “Judge”. The again, maybe you are one for real?


  64. Mr E says:

    Lies for money?
    Excuse me, I did not. Point to that statement or apologise thanks.


  65. TraceyS says:

    So representatives in opposition doing a poor job…is that what you are saying Judge?


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