September 23, 2018 | ° F

CASTELLI: Diversity requirements for women should be eliminated


Opinions Column:


gianacastelli

A common talking point that organizations like to advertise is their commitment to diversity, especially when it comes to the sexes. If any company or university wishes to maintain the good graces of the public, mentioning their dedication to gender equality is a must. Is this virtue-signalling beneficial to companies or the prospective applicants they are trying to attract? Companies and universities should not hire nor accept women who are less qualified than their male counterparts — nor should sex be a consideration in their holistic review of applications — but should view them as individuals.

The original intent for these quotas was to encourage women to apply in traditionally male-dominated fields, and has succeeded in its goal. A study according to the National Center for Education Statistics shows that women comprised more than 56 percent of students nationwide in 2017, and is estimated to increase to 57 percent by 2026. Upon graduation, women ages 25 to 34 make up 74.5 percent of the labor-force participation rate in 2016 and is projected to increase by 2024. A study by Catalyst shows that Fortune 500 companies with more women board directors tend to perform better than those who have less. Exactly why these companies do better financially is unclear. Ilene H. Lang, president of Catalyst, points out that “(more women in the boardroom) can lead to more independence, innovation and good governance and maximize their company’s performance.” Neither she nor the study specifies what about female leadership leads to increased performance, such as diversity of thought. In that case, men and women are capable of having diverse perspectives — sex is not mutually exclusive in this instance. To make the argument that women are at a disadvantage in the workplace is ignorant based off of statistics. 

Perhaps what this study fails to take into consideration is that the effectiveness of these women was not due to their sex but due to the individual traits and abilities they had. These companies did not force diversity quotas but instead hired women because of their merits. Forcing diversity quotas can increase tension between the sexes that ultimately does more harm than good. Women with robust, legitimate achievements are often waved off as illegitimate, because it is assumed they received the job because it was a diversity hire. Quotas ultimately promote the soft prejudice of low expectations. Because of patriarchy, a vague boogeyman that constantly and mercilessly oppresses women in every aspect of life, women cannot possibly be expected to pull themselves up and instead must be coddled and given special treatment by having certain positions allocated specifically for them. 

To illustrate this point, one should look no further than at the military, a historically and culturally male-dominated field. The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is skewed significantly in the woman’s favor. In order to achieve a perfect score on the push-up portion of the exam, men between 17 and 21 must perform 71 reps or higher in 2 minutes. For women, they must perform 42 reps in 2 minutes — to compare, that is a 60 percent, a failing grade, for men. While men on average have stronger muscles and women have more fatigue-resistant muscles, the two sexes should be held to the same standards, no expectations. Retired Lt. Col. Kate Germano, previously in charge of training female recruits at Parris Island, points out the repercussions of this double standard. Germano said, “When individuals ... see that women are held to lower standards and have a much lower fitness requirement to max out the PFT (Physical Fitness Test), that causes cultural reverberations down the line ... and how disappointing is that, from a national security perspective?” Because women can now apply for combat jobs, lowering the standards for them has, quite literally, deadly consequences. On the battlefield, how will a man trust his female cohort, who did not accomplish the same physical feats that he had, if he is in danger? He will not. Teamwork is absolutely critical in stress-intensive situations, and if men believe that women achieving important leadership positions is the result of a diversity quota, there will be tension and lack of cohesion within the team unit. The military requires only the strongest and fittest soldiers to defend the country.

Is that to say that men should only be in these industries? Absolutely not. The disparity between this gap, though, should not be accounted for based on oppression. This is not a call for a decrease in diversity, but rather a call for diversity that is non-discriminatory. Companies and universities should review applications based upon a system of meritocracy. Programs should not be restricted to women and create a divisive environment in the workplace. Ladies, if you want to be taken seriously in hypercompetitive industries, work hard and do not rely on diversity quotas to push you along. 

Giana Castelli is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. Her column, "Conservative Across the Aisle," runs on alternate Fridays.

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Giana Castelli

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