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Mayor Anne Hidalgo appointed eleven women and five men to her senior team in France. What does this news mean for the government?

France makes news for having *too* many women in government

My, how the tables have . . . turned?

Many will remember 2020 as a tumultuous year of social reckoning in the news with the long-overdue fight for racial justice. We would like to think the #MeToo movement put up a strong enough front in the fight against misogyny back in 2017. Yet in a backward move by the French government, the city of Paris is being called to pay up after hiring too many women.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo appointed eleven women and five men to her senior team in 2018, costing her government $90,000 euros, which is equivalent to about $110,000 USD. What gives? Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Petty details

The Wall Street Journal reported that the government of Paris broke national government mandates on employment equality, which state that at least forty percent of new positions should be given to each gender. In 2019 a waiver was introduced in the event that new hires didn’t lead to a broader gender imbalance.

This waiver would otherwise apply to Paris since women account for less than half of the senior officials in city hall. However, Hidalgo made her appointments before the waiver was introduced, which means the fine still stands in France. Her appointments brought the percentage of positions held by women to sixty-nine percent and thirty-one percent to men.

Rising up with tongue-in-cheek

For her part, Hidalgo appeared unfazed by the fine and said she plans to deliver the check to the Ministry of Public Service herself. In fact, she views the fine as a rare opportunity to build upon a policy success in France. “In Paris, we are doing everything to make it a success, and I am very proud of a large team of women and men who together carry this fight for equality,” she said. “There will be so many of us.”

Although France’s minister of public service Amélie de Montchalin called the news “absurd” on Twitter, she joined Hidalgo in solidarity by calling for the fine to be redirected towards the uplifting of women in government. “I want the fine paid by Paris for 2018 to finance concrete actions to promote women in the public service,” she said. “I invite you to the ministry to raise them!”

Ladies do it better

With the United States electing its first woman of color to the vice-presidency, more women destined to lead are finding their place. In recent years, more countries have pushed for women to take up more space in politics. Research even suggests that, in some cases, female leaders are faring better than their male colleagues during the earlier stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

Economists Uma Kambhampati at Reading University in England and Supriya Garikipati at the University of Liverpool believed their survey’s findings may be partially influenced by the trend of women leading administrations that are more left-leaning. These stances may have prepared them to take decisive federal action to combat the virus as a result.

Their survey measured correlations between COVID-19-related deaths and how quickly economies locked down in 194 countries. Female leaders were shown to have half as many deaths on average in their countries by mid-May, as opposed to countries led by men.

This success doesn’t mean Hidalgo has had an entirely easy go of it herself, however. Even she has struggled politically to combat the pandemic’s spread after being re-elected as a prominent member of the Socialist Party. Nevertheless, Paris has experienced tighter restrictions than other parts of the country during the worst of the pandemic. The number of positive cases continues to fluctuate, yet are believed to be lowering.

How would you respond to receiving a fine from the wrong side of history? Let us know in the comments!

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