Equal Is NOT 50%

The other day I saw a post on another site that had to do with one of today’s hot topics: The equality of women in the work place.  Overall I understood and agree with the post.  However, one of the qualities I have always appreciated about the author is their attention to detail and accuracy.

In my opinion the author slipped a bit on this one.  Here’s the sentence that has been bothering me:

If we were being treated equally, then there would be just as many women in the Board rooms as there are men…

This is just faulty thinking.  It’s not driven by fact.  It implies that since there are two genders, female and male, that there are the same number of women as there are men.  It also makes the assumption that of all the qualified people for any given position in the Board rooms there are the same number of qualified women as there are qualified men.

First, let me get the picky part out of the way.  As of the 2010 Census, women outnumber men by about 1.5%.  Sure, it’s a technicality.  But when we start to consider small discrepancies as allowable when discussing very important issues we have a problem.  These small, technical points combine with others and begin to grow into holes in the logic of the argument, thus making it easier to discount the argument.  On an important topic such as equality in the work place we must make every effort to ensure the argument we put forth is rock solid.

Next, for any given Board room, it is highly unlikely that there will always be an equal number of qualified women and men available for the positions.  Everyone has different levels of capability, qualifications, and experience.  In some cases there are simply going to be more men that are qualified for a position.  In others, there will be more women that are qualified for a position.  It’s going to depend a lot on the type of business and it’s industry.

Let me be clear.  I am NOT saying there there is no inequity in the treatment and choices of candidates for positions, Board room or otherwise.  However, truly EQUAL TREATMENT should result in more DIVERSITY in the Board rooms, not necessarily more women, let alone 50%, aka ‘just as many’. 

I think the reason what would normally be considered a minor point bothers me so much is that it is put forth based on a single aspect of what has been and continues to be a problem in many environments, unequal treatment of women in the work place.  However, women are not the only class of people that have been treated unfairly.  The same issue applies to people of varying race, religion, or creed.

I think that to honestly achieve EQUAL TREATMENT it must be for ALL people and it must be based on qualifications and experience.  

The minute we include any class of people as a criteria to a process we introduce an implied discrimination to anyone who doesn’t fit that classification.  And that is NOT an improvement.