Jordan Peterson weighs in on New Zealand gender topics, Julie-Anne Genter's 'old white men' comments

Controversial Canadian professor Jordan Peterson has weighed in on several hot New Zealand topics in an exclusive interview with Magic Talk's Sean Plunket.

The professor, whose comments on gender relations have polarised people around the globe, was asked by Plunket for his views on gender quotas for the Government's cabinet and company boards, which Minister for Women Julie-Anne Genter said has too many "old white men".

"I think there is absolutely no excuse for it," he said. "To pick your cabinet by genitalia is not an acceptable technical move."

There are currently no plans to introduce gender quotas in New Zealand workplaces.

Dr Peterson made a comparison to Canada, where he said at one point 25 percent of elected representatives were female, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made 50 percent of cabinet members female.

"What that certainly means is that the most qualified people were not selected, because it is statistically impossible for them to be selected," he said. "It was cheap virtue-signalling."

In response to Ms Genter's comments that there are too many "old white men in their 60s" sitting on company boards, the professor asked about her ethnicity, to which Plunket said she was a white American.

"Well maybe it is time for her to bloody well move aside, and let someone who isn't white have her position," he said, seemingly attempting to use Ms Genter's logic against her.

He said an attempt at gender quotas in Scandinavia, introduced to help women rise through managerial positions in organisations, had had "zero success" and there was no evidence that more women on boards elevated the financial performance of the company.

"What elevates the financial productivity of companies is quite clear - trait conscientiousness... and so does general cognitive ability, and that holds across sexes and races."

In 2007, Norway required all listed companies to have at least 40 percent women on their boards. But according to Anne-Grethe Solberg, a researcher at the Norwegian Work Research Institute, there has been no noticeable change in the decade since.

"We have not seen any noticeable effect regarding the share of women on management level in our listed companies," she said, reports Business Insider.

However a global index from Catalyst showed Fortune 500 companies with more women in their boardrooms outperformed those with fewer women, with a 16 percent higher return on sales.

When asked about his remarks, Ms Genter told Newshub she doesn't "waste too much time thinking about Jordan Peterson".

"Obviously he has his fans, I'm not one of them," she said. "I'm focused on my work, which is about improving diversity and decision-making and ensuring that women, particularly Māori and Pasifika women that have been extremely undervalued by our economic system, get a fair deal."

She said she "can't say she understands" Dr Peterson's popularity.

"Different people have different tastes."

Dr Peterson also criticised NZ First MP Tracey Martin's Bill that, if enacted, would ease the process by which transgender people can change the sex marker on their birth certificate.

"It is an attempt by a certain ideological movement to put forth the insistence that sex is only a sociological construct... so that it can be changed at whim," which he said he found strange as something that is learnt "cannot be changed at whim".

"Sex roles are not only learnt, they're partly learnt, and there are plenty of biological differences between men and women, and many of them aren't trivial.

"Men and women are more the same than they are different, but the differences are quite... at the extreme."

He said for that reason transgender women should not be allowed to compete in female sports, something he labelled "cultural insanity" and psychologically incomprehensible.

"To absolutely bloody demolish women after a year of work and then to tout that as some sort of victory for the oppressed, it is narcissistic beyond comprehension and it is a sign of what happens when you don't completely think things through."

The case of Kiwi weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has brought the issue of transgender athletes to New Zealand's attention in recent years.

Some say it's unfair for her to compete against rivals who were assigned female at birth because she retained much of her "male strength" having transitioned relatively late in life. Others say athletes in her position should not be forbidden from following their passion because of their gender identity.

Dr Peterson was speaking ahead of his New Zealand tour next week, where he is promoting his self-help book 12 Rules for Life.