Not content with demanding racial quotas in education and geography, the Left took another giant step backward in its supposed advocacy for equality. California recently passed a law requiring women on corporate boards.

Step backward, you might ask? Indeed. Hereafter, every woman who joins a California corporate board will have her abilities and accomplishments questioned. Every woman not already seated will be looked at as “did she achieve this position on merit, or is she a token intended to satisfy the law?”

Progressive and statist types might not care. If they can get more women in such positions, they can claim a victory, a “smashing of the glass ceiling,” and a presumption that society will be better off for having greater gender diversity at the top of the economy. This suggests, of course, that merely being a woman confers a different (and better, we are to accept, per the narrative that the white patriarchy is evil) worldview and mindset upon a person – a suggestion that runs afoul of the other progressive premise that there are no inherent differences between men and women, only socialized ones.

The Left doesn’t care, because leftists don’t care about individuals. If numbers and appearances change to satisfy their desires that the world be a certain way, the fates of and impacts on individuals don’t matter.

As evidence, consider the unacknowledged side effect of affirmative action in higher education. Pressured by progressives, top-tier schools gave preference to minority applicants, applicants that in many cases were insufficiently prepared for the rigors of the curricula they’d face, and applicants that in many cases struggled to perform on an equal footing with their classmates. Such struggles can do terrible things to self-esteem and to future prospects. California actually got this one right, 20+ years ago, when they outlawed racial preferences in colleges. Minority student enrollment shifted from the elite schools to lower ranked state schools, and graduation rates doubled. Turns out, if a kid goes into a program he is prepared to handle, he’s more likely to succeed. Whodathunkit?

The indictment there, of course, is the public education system that’s failing to prepare these kids for top tier schools, but we don’t dare say that to the defenders of the status quo, lest they call us names. The desire to see more minority kids (excluding Asians, of course) enrolled in the top schools matters more than whether those kids actually benefit from attending those schools.

The flip side, the part that is applicable to today’s matter, is that those students that did succeed, that had the chops to perform at the top levels of academia, often had their success questioned at every turn of life. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a graduate of Yale Law School, has lamented that, due to affirmative action, “many asked pointed questions, unsubtly suggesting they doubted I was as smart as my grades indicated.”

When you forcibly advance someone because of his or her demographic markers, you plant seeds of doubt in all those with whom they work going forward.

By mandating women onto corporate boards, California lawmakers may think they’re doing their part to right systemic injustice and break glass ceilings. Instead, they’re erecting a whole new set of “barriers of presumption” for women to overcome. They’ll dismiss this as mere bigotry, but that’s just head-in-the-sand excuse making. Women on these boards, even those supreme qualified for those positions, who achieved legitimate success through talent and hard work, will have to work that much harder to be perceived as equals, and while their mere presence on boards may please the Left’s social justice types, many individuals will suffer for it.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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