Saturday, May 19, 2007

Quotas Can Be Good

Sarkozy names 7 women to French Cabinet
By JAMEY KEATEN, with contributions by Associated Press writers Elaine Ganley, Jenny Barchfield and John Leicester in Paris
Associated Press
May 18, 2007

PARIS - [New French President Nicolas Sarkozy named his Cabinet on Friday, poaching from rival political factions and handing women a prominent role in a smaller government team tasked with reforming France and pulling it out of the economic doldrums].

Rachida Dati, a woman with North African roots, was named justice minister in France's new Cabinet on Friday, an appointment rich with symbolism that the law will be colorblind in a nation still coping with the fallout from riots across immigrant-heavy neighborhoods two years ago.

She was one of seven women that President Nicolas Sarkozy, himself of Hungarian immigrant background, appointed to his 15-member Cabinet — making good on a campaign promise of gender balance after decades where women often played secondary roles or were outnumbered by men.

Women here did not get the vote until 1944 and only 14 percent of the national legislature is female. But France now has one of the highest numbers of women ministers of any country in Europe.

Never before has a woman with family ties in France's former North African colonies been given such a high-ranking ministry, said Sarkozy spokesman Franck Louvrier.

Dati, a 41-year-old lawyer, was raised in a housing project in the winemaking Burgundy region. She is the second child in a Muslim family of 12 children from a mother with Moroccan roots and a father of Algerian background. [...]

Her appointment reached out to black and Arab immigrants and their French children who have scant regard for Sarkozy because of his tough stance on crime and immigration. As Interior Minister, he infuriated many when he described delinquents as "scum" and said that crime-ridden poor neighborhoods needed to be power-hosed clean.

"The message: if you're a woman, or have North African origins, or come from a disfavored position in society, you can still make it in France," said political analyst Dominique Moisi. [...]

While no official statistics exist because France is officially colorblind about race and religion, officials have said Muslims make up about half the prison population. France has more than 5 million Muslims whose backgrounds are most often traced to former colonies in Africa. [...]

Sarkozy also drew strong condemnation by creating a new Ministry of Immigration, Integration and National Identity to manage the inflow of immigrants and protect French values and cohesion. [...]

Sarkozy named humanitarian crusader Bernard Kouchner, a popular Socialist, as foreign minister. The defection is a blow to Socialists ahead of next month's legislative elections — and they responded by saying that they no longer considered Kouchner a member of their party.
Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe got a second life. He was given the environment portfolio — remarkable given his conviction in 2004 for a political financing scandal.


First the French-bashing: France is "officially colorblind about race and religion", but unofficially and hypocritically appointing to high position a women with North African Muslim parents is a big deal.

Women didn't get the right to vote until 1944, a full generation after American women gained that privilege, and during the occupation ???
Frenchmen wouldn't respect women until after German Nazis took over their society and forced them to do so ?
How pathetic is that ?
[Corrections thanks to Harry]

Obviously, the main way in which France is superior to America is in the area of historically-ignorant, self-deluded bloviating egotism.

(I'm tempted to say something about Alain Juppe, but people who live in glass houses ought not throw bricks - Edwin Edwards, Marion Barry... Actual quotes taken from Mayor Marion Barry).

OK, with that taken care of, I approve of the main point in the article. In America, women ought to be appointed to half of the patronage positions in government, and there should be a racial spoils system.

While that's not an optimal paradigm, it's an undeniable fact that the white male political elites in America have somehow never got around to cutting women a full slice of the pie, despite their "deep respect" for women, and despite the admirable political accomplishments of some very talented women over the past 150 years, especially since WW II.

So my position is that, since the Powers That Be seem (understandably) unwilling to share the franchise in a meaningful way, until we run out of competent women who are willing to serve, we should operate with an explicit gender quota system. And I'm fine with a racial quota system, too.

Note that this might seem to be at odds with my rejection of quotas for entrance to universities, but I think that elite schools and governments operate with different dynamics.

For one thing, if you don't get accepted to MIT, there's always Cow Collage, but there's only one government. If you're frozen out there, what's the alternative? Start a separatist movement?

Also, higher education rather ought to operate as an explicitly meritocratic system. With government, as in business and the military, "good enough" really is good enough. Once you're past a certain minimum level of competency, it often is irrelevant to fulfilling the position if you're extra-good - although being such might well help you to move up quickly.

20 Comments:

Blogger Bret said...

So would this apply to every group? If group X (say hunchbacked black jewish transvestites with one leg, for example) has Y percent of the population, should they also occupy Y percent of the government positions? If not, why not? Why should just women have this quota thing?

You say there is just one government, but really there are lots of them: state governments, county governments, city governments, PTAs, corporate directors, community assemblies, housing association governances, etc. Surely everyone who wants to govern can find a position somewhere. If not, we can invent yet more of them.

May 19, 2007 1:47 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Yes, X = Y.

Surely we can find a job that the one hunchbacked one-legged black jewish transvestite that we'd have to place, can do well.

But I think that you're dividing the population into too-fine groupings. There aren't any advocacy groups for hunchbacked one-legged black jewish transvestites.

That dude would fall into larger categories: Black, Jewish, transgendered, or disabled. He'd have to compete with the millions of others in all of those course groupings to be chosen to fill a slot.

He would have one advantage, though, (and goodness knows that someone like that deserves an edge), in that he's a four-fer. That alone ought to land him a job as a receptionist or executive assistant - if he wants it.

You say there is just one government, but really there are lots of them...

And at each of those levels, there is only one gov't.

Further, every example that you've given is run largely by men, with the exception of the PTA, (which, not coincidentally, is almost powerless).

The only government run by women, that I can recall, was the 2002 - 2006 administration of Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. Regardless of what one might think of her personally, or her record of leadership, it must be said that she won exactly as a man might - by being a tough, tireless political fighter. A dirty bare-knuckle brawler, one might say.

But one might object: "Surely different races and genders are capable of representing everyone in their district, not just their own group."

I agree. Whites can represent blacks and asians, women can represent men, and Jews can represent Christians - at least in America.

It's just that non-whites and non-men aren't given many opportunities to show that such is true.

As a thought experiment, if one believes that race, gender, or creed are of no consequence in filling gov't positions, then one ought to have no objections to replacing the present Supreme Court of the United States with nine qualified black women, right ?

Or even to filling gov't executive positions 70/30 with women, yes ?

May 19, 2007 2:44 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

French women didn't get the vote during the Occupation. DeGaulle imposed it after Liberation.

May 19, 2007 3:30 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Thanks. Corrected.

May 20, 2007 1:17 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

So my position is that, since the Powers That Be seem (understandably) unwilling to share the franchise in a meaningful way, until we run out of competent women who are willing to serve, we should operate with an explicit gender quota system. And I'm fine with a racial quota system, too.

Equality of opportunity has no relationship, except for those utterly immune to the vagaries of human nature, to equality of outcome.

I submit that far fewer women than men could give a tinker's darn for jobs in government (or, given the opportunity, jobs outside the house).

No one knows whether women, in general, can drive race cars as fast as men.

What is clear, though, is that darn few care to try.

May 20, 2007 4:01 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Equality of opportunity has no relationship [...] to equality of outcome.

True, but first we have to start with "equality of opportunity", which I argue does not yet exist.

There's a reason that Hillary is only the second woman ever to make a serious run for POTUS, and it's not because she's only the second woman in the history of the Republic who wanted the job.

I submit that far fewer women than men could give a tinker's darn for jobs in government (or, given the opportunity, jobs outside the house).

I believe that that's true, which is also why women don't hold much direct power: They don't vote as a bloc.

No one knows whether women, in general, can drive race cars as fast as men.

What is clear, though, is that darn few care to try.

Ah, but what's also crystal-clear is that the few who care to try are generally not given the opportunity to do so.

The same is true of many other sports-related professions. Why no female Big League umpires? Can women not see as well as men?

So while I agree that we might run out of qualified, interested women before gender parity is achieved in the circles of power, I also think that we should give it a try, and see what happens.

May 20, 2007 9:35 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

In other words, I don't advocate as strict a standard as a "Title IX for politics", but there were very good reasons that Rep. Patsy Mink wrote and worked to pass Title IX. Those reasons still exist today, although thankfully lessened.

All I'm saying is, give a sister a chance.

May 20, 2007 9:47 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

True, but first we have to start with "equality of opportunity", which I argue does not yet exist.

I argue that there is so much that goes into "equality of opportunity" that the blunt object trauma of quotas can only make things worse.

For example: An essential part of getting ahead in a bureacracy is assertiveness in meetings and presentations. I think is at least arguable that a deep authoritative voice will affect listeners differently, and more favorably, than precisely the same words delivered in a higher pitched feminine voice.

Due to nothing more than ineradicable part of human nature.

Consequently, the possessor of said voice has an advantage over those who don't, and it is the kind of advantage that cannot be legislated away; even female supervisors will react to it.

What's more, you can't claim that possessing a command voice is irrelevant, ceteris paribus, because that alone can produce results that wouldn't obtain otherwise.

There's a reason that Hillary is only the second woman ever to make a serious run for POTUS, and it's not because she's only the second woman in the history of the Republic who wanted the job.

It is because politics is a very slippery pole, which those who are testosterone poisened have an advantage in climbing.

Ah, but what's also crystal-clear is that the few who care to try [driving race cars] are generally not given the opportunity to do so.

I have first hand experience that this is simply not true.

In a another life, I was in charge of a flying training squadron. When students reached the end of training, they were able to select among four different, quantity limited, follow on tracks. The top student in the class got free choice; the bottom student got what was left over.

Typically, the track leading to fighters was used up well before the midpoint in the class.

As it happened, the attrition rate for women was close as darnnit to that of men, but women were very over-represented in the bottom half of the class.

And, no, before you ask, it was not due to systemic grading bias: each maneuver in pilot training has an associated course training standard against which the student's performance is assessed. Making up grades just doesn't work, because downgrades have to come with a reason which the student will obviously object to if it is invented. (Also, written exams are a significant component of class standing; multiple guess, so no chance of discrimination on anything other than performance.)

Rather, the primary reason women finished in the bottom half of the class is because their performance was significantly worse in formation flying, which is a decidedly offputting environment to the risk adverse.

As it happened, women going to fighters was so rare that the Defense Advisory Commission on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) decided to subpeona my squadron's female instructors to ask variations on the "has the AF stopped discriminating against its female students yet."

However, during initial interviews with the IPs, DACOWITS quickly reached the conclusion there was simply nothing to be seen, and cancelled the whole thing.

During my two years in that position, far fewer than half the women students finished high enough in their classes to have an opportunity to select fighters.

And of those who had the opportunity, almost all of them chose transport category aircraft.

All this by way of saying that the reasons for under-representation of women in certain occupations is due both to self selection and ineradicable human responses to each gender.

I would no more ascribe invidious discrimination to the fact that nearly all steeple jacks are men than the fact that nearly all kindergarten teachers are women.

Just so with government positions.

I argue that the difference in outcomes in the 21st Century US is nearly always due to self-selection and variations in merit.

Tossing quotas at the problem can only serve to make matters worse.

May 21, 2007 7:11 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Are you saying that being in charge of a major gov't department is like flying fighter jets, and that most women wouldn't choose to do so, even if offered the opportunity ?

Why don't we find out for certain, by offering them the opportunities ?

May 22, 2007 1:33 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Oro:

Are you saying that being in charge of a major gov't department is like flying fighter jets, and that most women wouldn't choose to do so, even if offered the opportunity?

No, I'm refuting this: Ah, but what's also crystal-clear is that the few who care to try [driving race cars] are generally not given the opportunity to do so.

Women, by their own self-selection, simply do not care to do certain things: that is crystal clear. Similarly for men.

This creates a parity error that must, by definition, skew statistics across the board.

Why don't we find out for certain, by offering them the opportunities?

Already done. Your taking as true that which hasn't been proven notwithstanding.

Failing to be testosterone poisoned, women are in general less competitive, and vastly more likely to temporarily, or permanently, exit the economic workforce in favor of their children.

These two aspects are far more persuasive of differences in representation then appeals to pervasive discrimination.

May 22, 2007 6:27 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I dunno what it means, maybe nothing, but I am the last male reporter at my paper. All six of the other notebook-toters are young ladies.

I suspect part of the reason is that newsrooms are a lot cleaner than they used to be and don't smell nearly as bad.

May 22, 2007 11:56 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Women, by their own self-selection, simply do not care to do certain things...

That's true.

You've made your point about women not generally wanting to be race car drivers and fighter jocks.

However, you're then conflating that with the desire to head gov't agencies.

I don't think that one has anything to do with the other.

Already done.

I don't think so.

These two aspects are far more persuasive of differences in representation then appeals to pervasive discrimination.

What about this, then ?

With all due respect, I don't think that you've investigated the issue enough.

I suspect part of the reason is that newsrooms are a lot cleaner than they used to be and don't smell nearly as bad.

LOL

May 23, 2007 12:52 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Second link, again.

May 23, 2007 12:53 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Oro:

However, you're then conflating that with the desire to head gov't agencies.

No, I'm not. I'm attempting to establish that quotas, by attempting to invoke equal outcomes takes as proven that which is far from deonstrated: equality of opportunity is seriously lacking.

Nearly all women have children, and a great many of them leave the economic work force at least temporarily on that account.

Men do not.

Additionally, some occupations are, by self selection, overwhelmingly female, e.g. secretaries.

These parity errors result in an unavoidable skew towards male overrepresentation in other areas.

I do not deny that there are instances of gender discrimination, but until you consider the unavoidable effects that wide spread self selection, I think your conclusion such discrimination is widespread is, at the very least, premature.

It reminds me of the annual "studies" showing how women earn less than men.

May 23, 2007 3:19 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

What is somewhat amusing here is that both sides are arguing as if the typical public service job was a plum posting that leads to self-fulfillment and demands the best overall intelligence, aggression and endurance the nation can produce. Everybody thinks in terms of Assistant Undersecretary of State, but far more are lucky if they close out their careers as Acting Assistant Director of the Beekeepers' Income Support Directorate. Oro, do you want quotas for clerical positions too, or just for the sexy stuff?

I'm sure gender discrimination still exists in small to medium- sized businesses, but the public service? After all that affirmative action and equal rights brouhahas? Anyway, Oro, unless you propose wholesale firings of men in mid-career, you have to make your case based on hirings in, say, the last five years. No one argues there wasn't a male bias in the past. You don't get a picture of what is going on now by lumping in fifty-year olds with twenty-five years' service.

May 23, 2007 5:07 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Peter:

What is somewhat amusing here is that both sides are arguing as if the typical public service job was a plum posting ...

I think you have missed my point, which has nothing to do with the actual, as opposed to fantastical, notions of bureacratic progression.

My point, simplified is merely that the disparity in outcomes is absolutely unavoidable, and has little, or nothing at all, to do with invidious discrimination.

Since affirmative action policies (of which Title IX is the most notorious example) never take that into account, the cure they attempt is far worse than the putative disease.

May 23, 2007 6:41 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

These parity errors result in an unavoidable skew towards male overrepresentation in other areas.

Per this, are you claiming that, among the approximately 170MM women in America, 10 outstanding ones couldn't be found to round out a President's Cabinet ?

The numbers that we're talking about would be in the thousands, at most in the tens of thousands.
There are far more than enough working women to fill those postions.

Oro, do you want quotas for clerical positions too, or just for the sexy stuff?

Just the sexy stuff, of course, since it is precisely those jobs that are worth wrangling over. Women have always been able to find scutwork, even before they could vote, since men don't care to polish the silver.

But if men want to demand masculine quotas for clerical positions, I'm fine with that.
You go, boy.

I'm sure gender discrimination still exists in small to medium- sized businesses, but the public service?

Yes. Follow the corrected second link.

After all that affirmative action and equal rights brouhahas?

Yes.

Also, I explicitly but obscurely mentioned that I was focused on patronage and appointed positions, not the civil service. (From the main post: "In America, women ought to be appointed to half of the patronage positions in government...")

Since those positions turn over with every new administration, no "wholesale firings of men in mid-career" will be necessary.

My point, simplified is merely that the disparity in outcomes is absolutely unavoidable, and has little, or nothing at all, to do with invidious discrimination.

That is often true.

It's not always true. Nor is it in this case.

May 23, 2007 9:21 AM  
Blogger David said...

Harry: A real chick and egg problem there.

May 24, 2007 6:07 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Insist on experiential promotions would remove some of the disdain and sting of quotas.
_____________
Limit the princely salary & benefs in govt. positions for living off and spending other people's moneys. That takes some of the sting and disdain out.
______________
A crucial missing link in most so-called modern government(s).
Severely limit any spending over @$60k) by govt. officials (& legislatures) to an Independent non-partisan panel of three (40 yrs. of age+)with fiscal veto powers. A crucial missing link in most so-called modern government(s).

May 24, 2007 11:03 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Alexandra:

That's exactly the main power that legislatures have, the power over the purse strings.

They aren't going to give that over to a non-partisan panel of eggheads.

What is really necessary is to convince voters that spending less matters a lot, and the legislature will eventually respond.

Ross Perot managed to do that in '92.

May 24, 2007 11:32 PM  

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