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Quit talking about women already

July 4, 2010
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Dammit Jim, I’m a designer not a sociologist. But I just can’t help it. Per the NYTimes, the Pew Research Center did an international poll on gender equality. I think the more surprising results are maybe many countries not associated with gender equality (i.e., in the Middle East) that show a majority believe in a woman’s right to work outside the home. Or high percentages in those countries that women should have equal rights to men. It’s surprising because from a western perspective they seem so backwards about women’s rights it’s interesting what they actually perceive as “equal rights.”
And then there’s America, where while most everyone believes in equal rights (we are a country of rights after all) a whopping 30% of women and 47% of men think we don’t need to be making any more changes to equalize things. One of the study authors, Professor Ibarra, sums that up in what I’ll call the Pie Theory (mmmmpie):

Likewise, a strong core in several countries said men had more right to a job than women. More than 50 percent in 10 of the 22 countries said that when jobs are scarce, they should go to men. “If we think that it’s a growable pie, equality is fine,” Professor Ibarra commented. “If we think it’s a limited pie, it’s not.”

That seems to be the impression from some dudes I know. Giving a woman equal rights will somehow take away from their pie. We all want to get ours, and we all are angry when somebody gets something unfairly. So it seems natural that measures to increase minority/female representation in certain instances would take away from the pie of highly qualified white dudes like themselves. Of course, it’s not a zero sum game. And it’s likely the incompetent white males who will be getting less pie, and clearly nobody here whining thinks of themselves as an incompetent worker. But that’s hard news to swallow. Not like eating a delicious pie. (Have we talked about pie enough?)
In other news, Deutsche Telekom (third largest German company) has set a quota to increase its percentage of women in management from 12% to 30% in five years.

Deutsche Telekom’s initiative follows a wave of efforts across Europe to increase the number of women in corporate leadership posts. Since 2008, Norway has mandated that women hold at least 40 percent of board seats at publicly listed companies, while Spain, the Netherlands and France have passed similar laws.
That’s pretty crazy stuff. I can’t even imagine how proposals of this nature would go down in the US.

Affirmative Action is pretty much despised here despite agreement that racism is still prevalent and that discrimination still holds minorities from accessing equal potential as non-minorities. Probably a bunch of Neo-Cons wouldn’t be able to handle any kind of regulation on the “free market”. Still, there’s got to be a better way than quotas. What I’m not sure though. Here at MegaCorp we have similar quotas, not that I’m sure anything happens if we don’t meet them. Based on our dealings with the guv’ment we’re supposed to meet certain minimums of numbers, but as far as I know those numbers are just industry average numbers and not difficult for us to meet. I also wouldn’t be surprised if hiring more secretaries is somehow counting positively to our total number of women in engineering. I guess it’s better than nothing though.

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