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Op-Ed

If You Want To Help Women in the Workplace, Get Government Out of the Way

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When did “empowered women” suddenly start needing the government to help them attain positions of power?

The truth is: Empowered women don’t need the government to empower them. But in an unsurprising attempt at leftist virtue-signaling, the state of California enacted a law forcing businesses to place women on the boards of publicly-traded companies.

The law calls for putting at least one woman on each company’s board by the end of 2019, with continued plans to have more female board members required (depending on the size of the company) by the end of 2021. The effort had backfired, though, as the state is currently being sued by Pacific Legal Foundation because the law fundamentally goes against the Equal Protection Clause prohibiting companies from considering a person’s gender or race during the hiring process.

By imposing this nonsensical policy upon companies, California lawmakers are implying that women can’t succeed without the government stepping in to do the work for them.

This is just the latest example of how modern feminism has failed women in America. Instead of teaching women to forge their paths and challenge stereotypes through hard work and perseverance, we’re giving them an easy way out by telling women that they’re solely in leadership positions because a quota needs to be filled. It’s disheartening and frankly insulting to any woman who has made it on the board of a publicly-traded company without government intrusion.

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Not only is this policy disparaging to successful women, but it’s also unnecessary. According to the Pew Research Center, “the share of women sitting on the boards of Fortune 500 companies has more than doubled, from 9.6% in 1995 to 22.2% in 2017.”

This statistic proves that women have been rising through the ranks all on their own, without lawmakers stepping in for them.

Furthermore, if the goal is to have women respected in the workplace just as men are, this is one of the most damaging policies we could put into place. It reaffirms the old and outdated stereotype that women are helpless and need someone to swoop in and save the day for them.

If men are as misogynistic as modern-day feminists claim, wouldn’t it be harmful to give men the impression that female board members only got to where they are simply because they’re part of this quota? If you make it on a board based on your sex, expect to be treated like a second-rate board member.

Do you think this California law will be struck down in the courts?

Personally, one of my biggest frustrations of working on a board of male and female members is when somebody asks, “Shouldn’t we send a woman out to represent us for this? It could make us look better if we show that we have a woman on the board.” I, like many other hard-working women, would rather be chosen as a representative based on my merit and skill rather than be chosen simply because it makes a board “look good.”

This is affirmative action being put into effect all over again, but this time, based on sex.

Not long ago, I was at a networking event for young professionals when I met a woman in the tech industry. She had complimented my purse, and we struck up a conversation about our mutual love of classic handbags. Though I found her to be nice and agreeable, my honest first impression was that she was timid, soft-spoken and had difficulty with fully articulating her thoughts.

After a few minutes of chatting about fashion trends, she shifted gears by expressing her frustration of not having a leadership position at her job despite her eight-year track at her company. She contended that women rarely ever get leadership positions and that it’s likely she hasn’t been considered for such a role simply because she’s a woman.

I asked if she had applied for a leadership position and her answer was “no.” I asked if she spoke with a superior about her desire to take on a leadership position and again, her answer was “no.”

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In an instant, I knew that the problem wasn’t that she was a woman; it was that she didn’t possess the qualities that typically get people in the door for leadership positions. Leaders are generally effective communicators who take assertive action to solve problems to achieve the desired outcome. A leader asks, “what do I need to do to achieve this outcome?” rather than “what can I complain about until somebody gives me a break and puts me in charge?”

While I found this woman to be delightful and kind, she simply did not demonstrate the qualities of a leader who problem-solves and goes after what they want despite hurdles.

It became clear to me that we need to stop teaching women that they’re doomed simply because they’re women. Instead, we need to have honest conversations about what propels certain people into leadership while others stay in the same positions for nearly a decade, regardless of gender.

This is not a male versus female issue, but rather an issue of recognizing which characteristics are necessary for successful leadership.

You either have it or you don’t. You either learn it, or you’re born with it.

It’s time for lawmakers to stop insulting women with ineffective policies that make it more difficult for women to build working relationships with their male colleagues.

The women who are meant to be leaders don’t need government assistance to get the corner office — they need leadership skills that reach beyond gender norms.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Leyla Pirnie, Senior Director of International Relations at Ropir International, was born and raised in Izmir, Turkey. She speaks four languages and is a Harvard graduate student. In her free time, she volunteers for Daughters of the American Revolution and serves as a board member for Boots for Warriors, an organization that gifts custom, hand-crafted cowboy boots to wounded warriors and first responders.




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