positive action measures have been created in order to promote equality in various decision-making contexts where some minority groups and women are typically under-represented worldwide. however, these measures have met great controversy between their opponents and proponents. focusing on perceptions of justice, in this theoretical article we aim at reviewing the main reasons that the literature has found to explain this controversy. as a contribution to this ongoing debate, in our article we propose an articulation between gender studies and those on perception of justice (drawing on theories of distributive justice, procedural justice and relative deprivation), in order to clarify some of the arguments (e.g., the merit issue) regularly used by opponents to positive action measures. this articulation was crucial to a better understanding on the controversy over quotas based on sex that intend to promote equality between women and men.