Is “Gender Balance” the New Quota System?

The Chronicle of Higher Education fretted recently about the lack of “gender balance” among college presidents. Women have achieved “gender parity” in the Ivy League, but “the Ivy League, with its eight institutions, is an outlier. Overall in higher education, the share of women presidents has barely budged, remaining at about 25 percent over the past decade.”

Aside from the epistemological challenge of figuring out how to promote “gender balance” in an employment category that has only one employee (the college president), there are other difficult questions: whether “balance” requires “parity”; whether either is necessary for  fairness; and finally whether seeking “gender balance” is even legal. The Supreme Court has repeatedly asserted — by Justice O’Connor in Grutter, for example, citing earlier cases — that “outright racial balancing” is “patently unconstitutional.” If seeking a goal of “gender parity” is not outright balancing, what is?

If women are believed to be more uniquely different from men than blacks are from whites, I suppose it could be argued that “outright gender balancing” should be allowed even if racial balancing is not. Indeed, the Chronicle quotes Kevin Miller, a senior researcher at the American Association of University Women, coming close to laying the predicate for that argument.

Female presidents bring a different perspective to the job, raise different concerns, and ask different questions than their male counterparts, says Kevin Miller…. Those are useful traits in making decisions.

“At the highest levels, where people have decision-making powers, women still aren’t in the room,” he says. “The things that they would be focused on just aren’t being discussed because they’re not there.”

Really? If that is true, it should be easy for Mr. Miller or someone to provide a list of the different concerns raised, the different questions asked, the different things focused on and discussed at the four Ivies with female presidents that have been ignored at the four male-headed Ivies.

Can someone point me to such a list?

3 thoughts on “Is “Gender Balance” the New Quota System?”

  1. Logic has never been the strong suit of progressives (it tends to just get in the way of “progress”). The premise of “equality” demanded by progressives is that difference is irrelevant. Yet progressives insist that more women are needed as college presidents, CEOs etc. precisely because they are different. And if there are significant differences between men and women in leadership, whether formal, substantive or both, then associating them exclusively with women means that any rejection of the qualities or attributes per se will be determined to be merely a pretext for rejecting the woman qua woman. This is how modern progressives progress: associate a desired practice or belief with a sex, or a race, or a sexuality; then any opposition to that practice or belief is, via the progressive transitive property, opposition per se to the sex, or the race, or the sexuality. (And the inverse is also true: associate a belief or practice hated by progressives with a sex, race or sexuality, and then merely instinctual loathing for that sex, race or sexuality is imagined by them to be principled opposition). And enough people out there actually accept this kind of “reasoning” to make it nearly impossible nowadays for rational persons on the Right (because this is pretty much the only place they can be found) to discuss any belief or practice for more than three minutes before the transitive connection is made and the shouting and threats begin.

  2. In other breaking news, outcome imbalance was found to be indicative of …. well…. outcome imbalance.

    Some point to input imbalance. It’s hard to win the World Series if you don’t make it into any league championship series. Some point to qualification imbalance. Hard to win the Heavyweight Crown if you only weigh 150#. Some point to performance imbalance. Hard to win the Super Bowl if you’re not Tom Brady. Some point to desire imbalance. Hard to win marathons if you hate running. Some point to seniority/experience imbalance. Hard to be a Master Gardener if this is the first year you’ve ever tried to grow tomatoes. And some just point to luck of the draw, noting that it is possible to get heads more frequently than every other coin flip (What the hell is wrong with this coin!??).

    And then of course there is the basic gender difference itself, and how such a gender difference is expressed in terms of behavior, ambition, and relative life goals.

    This last, of course, is highly controversial.

    We recognize it when it’s convenient and we forget it & ignore it when it’s not. We say, “Female presidents bring a different perspective to the job.” We note, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life”. But we hate like hell the notion that the male/female gender split also might be equally stereotypically characterized in negative fashion (too emotional, too empathetic, too anti-confrontational, too easily swayed, less action-oriented, etc.) Who would want such a President?

    [We might point to much of the new “sexual assault” literature which specifically notes that women cannot be held accountable for their actions or decisions if they’ve been drinking, if they’ve been subject to persuasion or psychological pressure, or if they’ve been threatened, as in (and I quote) the ‘threat’ to no longer love them. Clearly one would not want a Female College president who can’t be trusted if they’ve had a glass of wine or met a persuasive donor.]

    In the end, to worry ourselves with Gender Equity is just flat out insane. Who cares? Why is it important? And why on earth would the color of a candidate’s booties have any effect whatsoever on their qualifications to be a great college president?

    If our only real concern is Quality — then to change our evaluations in some misguided effort to shape our public demographpics is nothing but Corruption. And how could that ever be acceptable?

  3. Thanks for throwing down the gauntlet, John. We often hear assertions like the way women presidents supposedly have different perspective, how “diverse” groups lead to be decision making, and so on. Where is the evidence to support them?

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