Was there ever a better example of the absurdity of quotas for women than the BBC’s recent pledge to end men-only comedy panels? Do these witless attempts at satire truly represent a bastion of male supremacy that women crave to break into? I find it hard to believe that anyone cares, least of all any intelligent women.
Let us hope that the ban serves to demonstrate how demeaning to women the “gender balance” campaign has become. Girls are outpacing boys in education, more women than men now enter university, and male employment has fallen since the recession whereas female employment has increased.
Women have better things to do than go on TV panel shows. It’s not surprising that men are more likely to make their careers in stand-up comedy: boys in general are more impulsive, more irresponsible, less empathetic to the feelings of those around them – all good qualities for making jokes at others’ expense or poking fun at society, not so good for building and maintaining relationships.
Now we know and understand so much more about why women are different, it’s time to stop fretting about why they aren’t interchangeable with men. Instead, we should be asking what we can do to ensure that women’s talents for empathy, for focusing on relationships, for nurturing their children, are not crushed by the drive towards gender-neutrality.
Instead of berating them for not going on telly, or becoming Tory MPs, we should be paying more attention to the work they do in families, in communities, in schools and charities. Crucially, we should bear in mind that women who rise to the top in public life will not necessarily be best placed to defend the interests of women in general; hence the grave danger of tokenism and gender quotas.