Friday, March 9. 2012
Yesterday was the International Woman's Day. I'd intended to publish the following:
The idea of quotas for female board members is doing the rounds again. Nothing too onerous - 25% of board members should be women.
Good, I say!
Let's crack through that glass ceiling once and for all.
To those that say we should wait and appoint only on merit I want to know why the women who are, we are told, well represented at the next level down, not being appointed?
You're really asking me to believe they're not capable? Yeah, right.
Or, more likely from what I hear they're not seen as having served the right apprenticeship. Why not? Lack of patronage maybe? Knowing this is the track to the board and women won't get to the board so they don't get those jobs? How is that not discrimination?
It is broadly possible that, for some high level jobs, there is a benefit to being male. I'm struggling to think of cases though, to be honest. But it's unbelievable that the route to every board job in every company runs through such a post.
Even if you must appoint some from different career paths, is that really bad? In most places a diversity of experience is considered good. Why are boards so narrow and traditional?
Historically, I have been suspicious of quotas. But as I've grown older I've seen more and more cases where it seems this is the only way to start the process working. Get some women in on quotas and within a decade at the most and I bet we're close to 50-50 on the board, leave it to a 'voluntary system' and I bet we don't see a lot of changes in the 25 years.
Although it's not all good news, it's not all bad either. This piece from the BBC contains some hard data about how the proportion of women in various jobs has changed. Over the last decade women in senior positions and positions supporting them directly have both risen to 44% for the senior positions and 50% for the directly supporting roles. It's not perfect but not bad.
Then I saw a story that, well I won't give you my uncensored opinion of, but lets say it's taken me until today to calm down about.
In one story, Virginia (and other states are considering this), is going to compel a trans-vaginal ultrasound before an abortion can be performed. I'm depressed - the only reason I can imagine for them considering this is to try and force women to change their mind. It's supposed to be in the interests of "full disclosure" but I'm not sure what it discloses - she already knows she's pregnant after all. In a little ray of hope, the same state has existing laws about object rape and this law seems to be trying to compel doctors to stick objects into women without their free consent and a prime candidate for reporting under their own laws.
In the other, under some other pretext, they (Arizona this time, joining 9 other states) allowing doctors to not inform women of the medical case for abortion, for example if they have an STD or similar.
There are many reasons I'm pleased I don't live in the US. Sorry to those of you that read this and are based there.
But denying that women are capable of making rational choices about their pregnancy, that they deserve the proper information without state mandated object rape - that's made its way right to the top of the list.
PS I have turned comments off. Not just for this post it is becoming my default because of excessive comment spam (typically I am now receiving >200 spam comments per day). If you wish to comment, please email me and I will post your comments for you. This is not an attempt at censorship (although I expect some people will be offended by this post and I might want to censor the comments) just to stop me spending over an hour per day coping with spam.
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