#allmalepanels – how to break the cycle of discrimination

It might seem that equal rights have come a long way, but how far are we from true diversity and equality? New research by Cardiff University's Marysia Zalewski in the International Feminist Journal of Politics broaches the issue of endemic discrimination by looking at the all too common phenomena of ‘all male panels’.

Zalewski describes how superficial solutions to this ‘all male’ event, such as the last minute addition of a ‘minority’ popped into your panel, creates an illusion of diversity. She recalls Miss Triggs – a caricature board member whose valuable input is ignored unless repeated by her male colleagues. This epitomizes the problem of old-fashioned – but very much alive – discriminatory practises. As Zalewski notes, simply ‘adding’ a woman to make up the numbers is not enough to cast gender inequality into history. So how do we break the cycle of discrimination? 

Zalewski proposes a radical shake up of the gender order underpinning our supposedly equality driven liberal institutional practices. She notes there are many measures in place, such as pay audits and obligatory equality/diversity policies. These institutionalised equality practices tend to obscure the depth, and even shore up the problem as apparently there is nothing left to complain about.

Zalewski concludes: “The intention of feminism is hard to maintain especially in the corporate world in which, as academics, we are all embroiled….how prepared are we to know how to say why and to act? Perhaps it is time to become more critically radical (again), and to be more explicit.”