Quotas as a policy tool in disability and gender equality policies

The project “Quotas as a policy tool in disability and gender equality policies” aims at exploring the meanings and practices of quotas as a policy tool used to redress power imbalances between social groups, comparing the cases of gender and disability. This project has received funding from Sciences Po’s Scientific advisory board (SAB) and was conducted at CRIS. (May 2019 – May 2021).

Project description

Project blog (PolQuotas)

Related publications:

Revillard, Anne (2022) « The disability employment quota, between social policy and antidiscrimination ». Global Social Policy, online first

Abstract: Many countries worldwide resort to quotas in order to favour the employment of disabled people. Yet the quota as a policy tool as an ambivalent meaning: while it has been conceived as an advanced form of antidiscrimination policy tool in domains such as gender and racial inequalities, in the sector of disability it has tended to be theorized as an outdated measure, belonging to a social welfare perspective opposed to the more recent equalitarian policy frame. This paper revisits this theoretical debate on the disability employment quota by shifting the focus from a normative discussion to an empirical investigation of the meanings policymakers have endowed it with. I draw on the case of France, where the quota scheme is a cornerstone of disability employment policy: post-World War I provisions were at the origin of a series of reforms extending and reinforcing the quota, in 1957, 1987 and 2005 – leading to the current 6% disabled worker quota imposed to private and public organizations of 20 employees or more. Tracing the historical trajectory of this policy tool and its uses by means of parliamentary debates and secondary sources, I show how quotas in France have had more complex meanings than what the social welfare vs antidiscrimination dichotomy suggests. Before the rise of antidiscrimination policy, they were thought of as a progressive form of social policy, as opposed to more segregative interventions such as pensions or sheltered employment. The adoption of antidiscrimination provisions in 2005 then led to a hybridization between quotas and antidiscrimination policy.

Revillard, Anne and Yasmine Tuffy (2022) . « Gender quotas: an interdisciplinary scoping review ». LIEPP Working paper n°131.

Gender quotas have proliferated worldwide as a major tool of gender equality policies, first in the electoral arena and then expanding to other socioeconomic spheres, notably corporate boards. The ensuing rich body of scientific literature on gender quotas so far remains split across disciplines, with a main partition between political science and economics. This scoping review aims at fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue between research on gender quotas conducted from different disciplinary and methodological perspectives. To this effect, we compiled an original bibliographical database of 379 peer-reviewed articles, which we coded according to a series of variables including discipline, geographical area, quota domain, methodology and research question. Drawing on this database, this review presents an overview of the main findings regarding the genesis and the impact of this policy tool, and offers ideas for the further development of interdisciplinary quota research.

Jacquemart, Alban, Anne Revillard and Laure Bereni. “Gender Quotas in the French Bureaucratic Elite: The Soft Power of Restricted Coercion.” French Politics, 18: 50–70.

Drawing on a collective study of gender and executive careers in the French Civil Service, this article provides an account of the genesis and implementation of the gender quota introduced by the 2012 “Sauvadet law” in senior executive positions of the State bureaucracy. First, it shows the crucial, yet unobtrusive, role played by feminist actors in the process, in spite of the absence of any strong open politicization of the issue, from agenda setting to implementation. Second, the article points to the dual character of the reform. On the one hand, the gradual character and limited perimeter of the quota (to senior executive “initial appointments”) restricted its immediate quantitative impact. On the other hand, the constraining, technical dimension of the tool endowed it with a potential to foster incremental social change.