Liberal Daddy Quotas: Why Men Should Take Care of the Children, and How Liberals Can Get Them to Do It


  • Linda Barclay


The gendered division of labor is the major cause of gender inequality with respect to the broad spectrum of resources, occupations, and roles. Although many feminists aspire to an equality of outcome where there are no significant patterns of gender difference across these dimensions, many have also argued that liberal theories of social justice do not have the conceptual tools to justify a direct attack on the gendered division of labor. Indeed, many critics argue that liberalism positively condones it, presuming that it arises from the free choices of individuals, which must be respected. In this paper I will accept the feminist goal of equality of outcome across roles, occupations, income, and wealth, but will argue that liberal theories of justice are consistent with strong measures aimed at promoting such equality. I will show that liberalism has the conceptual resources to justify a concrete policy measure that goes considerably beyond the measures usually championed by feminists. The example I focus on is “daddy quotas,” which refers to the tagging of a significant part of parental leave for the exclusive use of fathers.