The NYTimes has an article on the front page about the dearth of women in the senior positions of the Obama administration. The paper tries to make it sound like it’s on a par with the Clinton administration but far, far better than the Bush administration. I love how they keep trying to rewrite history. We remember how Clinton kept nominating women to the Attorney General’s office until he got one that didn’t have a nanny problem. And then there was Madeleine Albright. She was a first. Then came Ruth Bader Ginsburg, only the second woman on the Supreme Court. And Joycelyn Elders. Who could forget her? It was Bill Clinton who hired Brooksley Born, even if she was overruled by Summers, Geithner and Rubin. And who could forget his most important advisor on health care reform, Hillary Rodham Clinton?
So, what is the NYTimes saying? “At least they’re not as bad as the last guy” is not a winning message, IMHO. Ahh, here’s a possible answer:
Interviews with current and former members of the administration, both men and women, suggested that there was no single reason for the discrepancy, and several repeatedly spoke of the administration’s internal commitment to diversity and gender equity.
But several said that the “pipeline” of candidates appeared to be one problem. They said it seemed that more men than women were put forward or put their names forward for jobs. In part, that might be a result of the persistence of historical discrepancies: men have traditionally dominated fields of government service like finance, security and defense.
Oh, my! That sounds insurmountable! What’s a president to do if he only gets recommendations that are male? He simply cannot change the status quo. It is impossible.
Of COURSE men are going to put other men in the pipeline. It is human nature for people to be comfortable with people who are most like themselves. In this case, having a penis is extremely important. Don’t ask me how it is important. It just is. Apparently there are urinary challenges to overcome or circle jerks where women are genitally challenged. Who knows what initiation rites one must undergo to get into the pipeline? Maybe it’s a matter of being tall enough to play center forward. Or being able to get onto the greens at the right country club. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with the job. It just has to do with a certain comfort level, to be able to sound important and have that sound acknowledged, to be able to swear without fear, to be able to take one’s shirt off when playing billiards at the local bar.
You know, guy stuff. Men do not mentor women. I have never seen it in a professional setting. Let me think…. Nope, I can’t think of a single instance when men mentored women in the chemistry field. Sometimes, women were hired to management positions and then the men around them bitched and moaned about how unqualified they were but I never witnessed one woman chosen from her male colleagues who was nurtured and forwarded for a management position by a senior male.
The president *could* just say, “your list must consist of as many females as males”. We might expect him to set an example or be proactive but I guess that’s just too much to ask of this president. He might force his team to come up with female names. That might make the people making recommendations to form a professional relationship with some females, whether they liked it or not. And that might get females into the pipeline. As it is, since all of the candidates are male, half of these guys are going to be below average. Are the candidate pickers trying to say that there are absolutely NO women who are better than the average guy to fill these positions? Oh, wait, that was a Larry Summers idea. See Brookesley Born reference above.
I would try harder if I were the president. There’s really no excuse at this point.
Obama fans have a lot to answer for when women stagnate and regress for eight straight years under a “Democratic” president. Does the end still justify the means? One might reasonably argue that in 1993 and 1996, women were just starting to percolate through the system. But 20 years later, there’s really no good excuse anymore. As Dina Refki, executive director of Women in Government said in the article:
Experts on women in government suggested that more transparency might help equalize the gender ratio as well. “We know that to bring that level of leadership to 50 percent, we have to make a deliberate effort to find women and appoint them to that level,” said Dina Refki, the executive director of the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society at the University at Albany. “Most of the time that deliberate effort isn’t made.”
Has there been anything close to a deliberate effort made? This mother of two daughters says, “definitely not”.