The danger of bad law

Paging James Damore…..

There isn’t currently a report of this that I can find that isn’t behind a paywall. Do your own search however, as it’s bound to be picked up by the news outlets with a broken business model shortly.

In summary, the University of Adelaide has sought dispensation from the legislation governing workplace equality to advertise half a dozen roles as only open to female applicants.

Hang on, what? Isn’t that, erm, discriminating against all the potential male job applicants in the Adelaide area, most of whom presumably have families to support with their income?

How did we get here?

Well, it would seem the university has consistently failed to hire female lecturers qualified to teach computer science and, wracked with guilt over this egregious example of patriarchal oppression, they have decided that the only course of action is to close the door to any lecturer who identifies as a bloke.

That’s bound to work, isn’t it?

Let’s hypothesise as to why they’ve not managed to hire lecturers in a 50:50 gender split. Possible reasons might include one or more of the following;

  • Qualified women feel overwhelmed by the prospect of applying, for some reason.
  • Qualified women are explicitly or subtlety dissuaded by the interviewers.
  • Qualified women fail to impress the interviewers because the interview process is skewed in favour of male candidates in some way.
  • There aren’t many (or even any) qualified female candidates in Adelaide or outside Adelaide who are prepared to relocate.
  • Some other reason related to duh patriarchy.

Putting the possible reasons why we arrived at this situation aside for a moment, let’s explore the legislation. How can it be that anti-discrimination laws can be ignored like this?

Because the legislation is terrible, that’s why. Section 44 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 allows for “The Commission” (which refers to the loathsome Australian Human Rights Commission) to grant exceptions as it sees fit.

I’m sure the legislators back in 1984 thought this was a good idea, in between enjoying the Australian theme to Bowie’s Let’s Dance video and the national pride of having a Prime Minister who held the world record for the yard of ale.

Of course, what they couldn’t should have anticipated was the creeping takeover of the commission by the radical left, resulting in it becoming a mouthpiece for those who would hector and nag and worse, embark on vindictive and flawed prosecutions.

Bill’s Opinion

At its core, this is a problem created in 1984 by poor legislation. Subsequently, the unelected and unaccountable body with discretionary powers to waive legislation has become highly-politicised.

The second problem is that the University of Adelaide is in denial of reality. The two most likely reasons they have not managed to hire an equal number of female IT lecturers are;

  1. As Damore rightly pointed out, IT is less attractive to females than males because women generally prefer to work with people and men generally prefer to work with things.
  2. Adelaide is a very small city in a very small (population wise) country and is geographically remote from even Australia’s large population centres.

Why does the second point matter; because we always see fundamental problems manifest themselves at the margins. Presumably the reason we haven’t seen the University of Sydney requesting this legal waiver is because there is probably just about enough potential female candidates for it not to be a problem. One suspects there are unlikely to be any unemployed female IT lecturers in Sydney.

Of course, it raises the question, what does it say about the likely quality of the lecturers at a Sydney University if ownership of female genitals results in you being accepted for a role over a more qualified male?

4 Replies to “The danger of bad law”

  1. Just get a male IT lecturer to self identify as female. Problem solved.

    From my experience of academics and IT bods, it might actually improve his – I mean her – chances of getting laid.

  2. This is really just honesty in advertising. I am routinely instructed to find a female for a role, so at least this cuts out the inappropriate applicants. Otherwise it mostly results in culling the first 10 or so merit based applicants because they are male, going through a sham interview process and offering to a female. And still we haven’t low female %. Mainly because they find a better employer who will pay more, and there remains a material shortage of females in my sector.

    Although you could be in the happy position of a colleague of mine. His team of four was 75% female. Big tick. All capable – which is great. With the happy circumstance that over the past two years they have worked less than six months each. All of them enjoying extended parental leave. For the last 12 months, they have had three males seconded to the team to cover. Of course for at least one of these gents, it was a stay of execution from redundancy, which will head his way shortly.

    1. Interim contracting seems to be an increasingly lucrative work option especially to cover for maternity leave or an inability of the employer to find the magical combination of a competent female candidate who is available.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.