Jennifer Jacquet’s in her book shame (2016) argues that public shaming often facilitated through social media today serves as a powerful tool to sway individuals since before the internet.

The World Economic Forum publishes the Global Gender Gap Report, which inadvertently functions to shame those who lag behind.

It’s also an illuminating list; when I think of democracy I think of fairness and representation. It’s interesting, and disappointing, to know that places like the United Kingdom and the United States are being outdone by non-democratic states like Cuba and Rwanda when it comes to female representation.

I wonder whether this is an area where democratic and authoritarian regimes might be less polarised.  They’re both systems which have been dominated and still populated, by men.

Solutions point to gender quotas (in the public and private sector) which appear a sensible idea. They act like a buffer to the biased sphere women are operating in. Arguably, quotas could go to undermine the professional position of women by signalling that they only achieved the rank they have on account of the quota implemented to bring them into the role.

Quotas are important but they’re not the solution, they need to be accompanied by a change in perception, by the realisation that the system has been structured in such a way so as to bias against women. We need to amplify the exposure of women in roles that have for a long time been occupied by men, not just so that men think differently about the capabilities of women, but so women don’t undermine their abilities too.

The importance of this is well illustrated in an article by the Harvard Business Review highlighting how women will only apply to jobs if they’re 100% qualified, as opposed to men who will often apply even if they don’t meet all the criteria.



Bauer, Gretchen, and Jennie E. Burnet. “Gender quotas, democracy, and women’s representation in Africa: Some insights from democratic Botswana and autocratic Rwanda.” In Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 41, pp. 103-112. Pergamon, 2013. (Links to an external site.)

Jacquet, Jennifer (2012) Is Shame Necessary: New uses for an old tool. London, Penguin.

Kasfir, Nelson (1998). Civil society and democracy in Africa: Critical Perspectives. London: Frank Cass.

Sophia, Tara Mohr. (2014). Why women don’t apply for jobs unless they’re 100% qualified. Available: Last accessed 25th March 2018.



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