Jacinda Ardern, equity and equality

I found myself a little miffed yesterday as I continued to read glowing reports on New Zealand’s new Prime Minister. Mostly about how she is a woman. The problem is that I don’t care if she is a woman. The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister. I expect them to do the best job they can whatever genitalia they have.

I even found myself explaining this to someone on the phone last night. They too agreed that it should not matter what sex the Prime Minister was. The media hadn’t waxed lyrical over Bill English, the new male Prime Minister, why should they about┬áJacinda Ardern.

It wasn’t until this morning that my ‘third thoughts‘ kicked in. I may not care if the PM is male or female but there are a lot of people who do. She is, after all, only New Zealand’s third female Prime Minister. It was then that I realised I had fallen into my usual equity and equality trap.

Equity and Equality

Equality in this case is not caring if the head of the country is female or male. This is what we are aiming for. It shouldn’t make any difference at all what sex people are. The problem is it does.

So in order to get equality we end up having to deal with equity. Or, more to the point, inequity. And in this case the inequity is that New Zealand has had twenty seven Prime Ministers. This means that only eleven percent of our leaders have been woman and all of those in the last thirty years. That is total inequity.

If it was a social condition such as woman only earning eleven percent of the amount men do then it would be fixed by law. That’s a little hard in the case of someone who is voted into power.

The next best thing is normalisation and promotion. That is exactly what the media has been doing. Males get used to having a female leader and woman get shown that there are female leaders.

Eventually, hopefully, we will end up in a world where nobody cares about the sex of the candidates. That isn’t the case at the moment. Maybe in another thirty years.

In the mean time I’ll just grin and bear it. If this is the way to get to equality then a bunch of annoying headlines is a small price to pay. And if they don’t work then we will just have to legislate.

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