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Jewish World Review Oct. 6, 2000/ 7 Tishrei, 5761

Larry Elder

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Consumer Reports


Does America need
a 'Ms. president?'

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- SECRETARY OF STATE Madeleine Albright wants a female president, and a Los Angeles politician wants female cops. What's wrong with this picture?

At a meeting co-sponsored by The White House Project (a group dedicated to having a qualified woman successfully run for presidency within the next decade), Albright said, "I believe that there will be a woman president sooner rather than later."

But Albright said that she doesn't believe "that women are better, purer, kinder." Huh? If women are not "better, purer, kinder," then what's the difference whether the occupant of the White House is male or female? Don't women overwhelmingly support Al Gore? Doesn't Gore get the lion's share of the single women's vote? Doesn't Gore command women's attention given his stand on so-called "SHE issues" -- Social Security, health, and education? A pro-choice absolutist, Al Gore clearly signals that any Supreme Court nominee must pass a pro-choice litmus test.

Given this, what could a female president give women that Al Gore hasn't already promised them? Besides, Albright does not want any female president. After all, did she embrace Elizabeth Dole, the GOP presidential primary candidate? Of course not. Despite her gender, Dole represented a set of views inconsistent with those on the other side of the aisle. No, Albright does not want any female occupant in the White House. She wants a liberal one. So whom are we kidding? After all, didn't National Organization for Women's Patricia Ireland call conservative Texas Republican senatorial candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison a "female impersonator"?

Presumably, Albright sees a female president as a positive role model for women. Really? But wouldn't such a woman, by definition, be unlike most other women? And apparently, women have trouble with female bosses. A Gallup poll of 22 nations shows that women overwhelmingly prefer male bosses. This is true of women in the United States, Japan and Britain. Only in India did women prefer working for female bosses.

According to a study by Korn Ferry, the international executive recruiting firm, only 14 percent of women in corporations aspire to the position of CEO. Contrast that with nearly half of the men. If given sufficient financial resources, many women choose stay-at-home mothering over working outside the home. So, what would a female president prove? That a decidedly non-domestic, hard-charging woman can make it to the top. News bulletin: Women already sit atop Fortune 500 corporations, serve on boards of directors, own and run businesses, and own, start, manage, and grow companies. No, Brandi Chastain of the World Cup-winning U.S. female soccer team need not whip off her top to demonstrate that, yes, women have come a long, long way.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a politician urges the hiring of women as cops. The Los Angeles Police Department faces its worst scandal in history, with dozens of officers under a cloud for illegal practices. L.A. County supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky offers this solution -- hire women. Yaroslavsky noted that women officers face fewer charges of excessive misconduct. Therefore, according to Yaroslavsky, the LAPD needs more of them, "The number of women in law enforcement has been kept low by widespread discriminatory hiring and selection practices. And once hired, women are often pushed out by discrimination on the job." Discrimination?

The LAPD already operates under a consent decree, mandating outreach hiring of minorities and females. Despite aggressive recruiting, the percentage of women on the LAPD remains under 20 percent. Where to get all of these qualified women? Supervisor Yaroslavsky says, "Enforce goals within the LAPD to reach gender balance as soon as possible, until the entire force is representative of the city's general paid labor market, where women now make up half the workers." Already officers complain of lower physical standards in order to attract women. And officers claim that policy requires white males to score higher on exams than females and minorities.

And while it may be true that female officers face fewer charges of excessive misconduct, many cops claim that women refuse to place themselves in hazardous situations, thus reducing the possibility of an allegation of officer misconduct. If female officers make such superior cops, if they combat crime as effectively as men with fewer charges of officer misconduct, why should the force contain any men?

Certainly many female cops serve as excellent officers, but reaching 50 percent is simply impossible without dramatically lowering standards. One cop said, "If you only knew how hard the recruitment division of the LAPD and the personnel department recruiting section work to hire females. They even recruit at female colleges all across the country and hold testing weekends in outside cities as often as their limited budget allows. ... The physical agility test now in place is a joke." This insults current female cops, many of whom made it under the same standards as applied to men.

Merit, anyone?


JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of the newly released, The Ten Things You Can't Say in America. (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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