Monday, October 29, 2007

Would this be wrong?

I was reminded of a conversation I had with someone several months ago regarding hiring practices as they pertain to gender.

I mentioned that if I were looking for someone to take charge of a large multi-million (or billion) dollar project, one that would take an estimated 1-2 years to complete, I would not hire a woman of child-rearing age unless I knew she intended not to have children. Sounds terrible, right? The PC section of your brain is now in overdrive? To be fair, I wouldn't hire a man if I knew he was planning to take a year or so off in the middle of the project for any reason (paternity leave, sabbatical, etc.). I would need someone for the length of the project. That simple. However, the minute you mention "woman" and "pregnant" and "not hire her" in the same sentence, all hell usually breaks loose.

The same goes for a position which requires a lot of expensive training. Why would I train someone as a fighter pilot (which could cost a few million bucks depending on the complexity of the aircraft) only to have (nay, expect) that person to leave for a year, or more, once training is complete? You could replace "fighter pilot" with "firefighter" or "police officer". Same question applies.

On the subject of firefighters, too many times I have read about the double-fitness standard that is being used to have a more "gender-balanced" firefighting force. Excuse me? When I am stuck in a burning building and need a firefighter to carry me down several flights of stairs, I want to see a big, burly guy who can bench press a pickup instead of a 5 foot 4 inch woman who only had to pass a dumbed-downed, simplified fitness test. Sorry...I know it sounds sexist, but Jesus. I weigh over 200 lbs fer crissakes. And yes, there are women strong enough to pass the regular test, I am sure, but these would be few and far between.

It seems that common sense has been left by the wayside in the quest of "gender equality". So much so that any discussion of the qualification of a candidate for any position cannot use gender, when in point of fact it should be a consideration.