Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tom Maguire links to Anne Applebaum's slap at Susan Estrich. I want to take exception to Applebaum's comment that "Most of them (women columnists and writers) got where they are by having clear views, knowing their subjects, writing well and learning to ignore the ad hominem attacks that go with the job. But now, thanks to Estrich, every woman who gets her article accepted will have to wonder whether it was her knowledge of Irish politics, her willingness to court controversy or just her gender that won the editor over".

Maybe some of them did, but how do we really know that, given that both the Washington Post and The New York Times, among many other papers, have long had diversity programs designed to boost the number of women and other minorities in the newsroom? What's the point of these programs if not to end up with more women? And, for what it is worth, doesn't Estrich have the same goal as these programs, to boost the number of women in prominent positions in journalism?

That is (one of) the unfortunate by-products of affirmative action/diversity programs, as well as the non-stop focus that so many people have on race and sex, that no one hired in such an environment can truly say they were hired for the job despite their skin/sex/sexual preference. Maybe the people hired in these circumstances don't care - after all, they have a job that probably pays pretty good, but they can't say for sure that they got there on merit alone.

Now, in Anne's case, she's far from incompetent; on the contrary, I think she's rather good (of course, I agree with her - or is it she agrees with me?). I would hire her in a second - because she is good. But there are also a lot of men who I also think are rather good, and some of them were likely considered at the time she was hired. So how does Anne know that it was solely her talent that her then-boss was thinking about when he made his/her hiring decision?