Quotas: the only way, or no way? Gender imbalance and equality vs quality

In the UK, 22% of professors are women, 10-15% of senior roles in the private sector are filled by women and 23% of MPs are women. How can this be changed? Does it need to be changed? In some countries, mandatory quotas for management boards have proved effective in addressing gender imbalance, but does this mean losing out on quality to improve equality?

To mark International Women’s Day 2015, the University of Liverpool hosted a debate with a panel of first-class speakers who considered these questions. 

This debate was hosted by Professor Susan Wray, Director of Athena Swan at the University of Liverpool, and included the following speakers:

  • Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool
  • David Ruebain, Chief Executive of the Equality Challenge Unit
  • Professor Fiona Beveridge, Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Emma Sims, Vice-President of the Liverpool Guild of Students 2014-15
  • Dr Lauren Walker, Early Career Researcher, University of Liverpool

Listen to the podcast of this event below:


In the evening after the debate, there was a screening of 'Made in Dagenham'. Before the screening of the film Dr Stephanie Petrie from the School of Law and Social  Justice provided an introduction. This film tells the story of the sewing machinists’ strike at  the Ford Dagenham plant in 1968, where female workers walked out in protest  against sexual discrimination, demanding equal pay. The strike was successful  and led to the Equal Pay Act 1970.

Listen to the Introduction below: