Women in Government

Published in the Hollister Free Lance, December 16, 1998
Dear Editor:

A guest editorial from the Sacramento Bee in the December 11 Free Lance argued that there should be more women involved in state government. It claimed that women only held 24% of important government jobs in the past decade. It then described a coalition of four women's groups trying to get more women to apply for those jobs.

While I have no problem with getting more women to apply for state jobs, the editorial stepped over the line when it said that women "should be better represented in state government than they have been, simply because democratic government should represent the people it serves."

The problem is that the editorial is assuming that in order for democratic government to "represent the people it serves" that the government should be composed of the people it serves -- and in numbers that reflect the general population. That implies that it takes 50% of women in government to represent a population with about 50% women, and that smacks of quotas along the lines of Affirmative Action.

The fallacy of that argument is that, taken to its logical extreme, that would mean 90% of government should be composed of idiots. Of course, some people already claim that's the case....

Facetiousness aside, didn't the author of that editorial get the gist of what Proposition 209 was about? Government, like any other organization, should be composed of the best people that it can get, regardless of gender, race, religion, etc. Everybody should have an equal opportunity to apply for such jobs, but those jobs should be awarded by merit, not by external appearances.

If the most qualified applicants are all women, that's fine. If the most qualified applicants are all men, that's fine, too. Of course, either of those outcomes is statistically unlikely, but that's not important. Getting the best people is what is important.

Want to comment on this? E-mail me at [steve@svpocketpc.com].