California’s ‘Woman Quota’ Reinforces Damaging Stereotypes Against Women

4min read

Gender diversity in the workforce has been a longstanding issue that has consistently crippled women's ability to climb the corporate ladder. In effort to finally place women in the seats their resumes prove they deserve, a recent California law approved by the senate state in 2018 required all public companies headquartered or incorporated in the state to have at least one female board member by yearend 2019. By 2021, boards will be required to give 40% of their seats to women. The penalty for failing to comply with the quota is set at a hefty $100K in fines and 300K for subsequent offenses. While the new bill may be welcomed by men and women who seek to bring gender equality and diversity to corporate boardrooms, it has been met with widespread backlash— and rightfully so.

According to California's Democratic state Sen. Hanna-Beth Jackson, women's insight is critical towards the growth and profitability of any business. In sponsoring the legislation, Jackson believed this decision to be a progressive and fair attempt at leveling the playing field for women.

"One-fourth of California's publicly traded companies still do not have a single woman on their board, despite numerous independent studies that show companies with women on their board are more profitable and productive," stated Jackson. "With women comprising over half the population and making over 70% of purchasing decisions, their insight is critical to discussions and decisions that affect corporate culture, actions and profitability."

What this bill does particularly well is opening doors for women who have the credentials and experience needed to successfully serve on a board and contribute to the company's overall development. However, that may very well be where its achievements end. The first lawsuit issued against California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, was filed by Washington-based conservative activist group, Judicial Watch. Tom Fitton, president of the group, said in a statement that "California's gender quota is brazenly unconstitutional." His argument is far from an over exaggeration as then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed off on the bill, made a statement regarding the questionable legality of the women's quota.

"There have been numerous objections to this bill, and serious legal concerns have been raised," stated Brown. "I don't minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation."

The second lawsuit against Padilla was filed earlier this month by Creighton Meland Jr., shareholder of OSI Systems, Inc. Like Fitton, Meland argued against California's Women Quota claiming it to be a "sex-based classification that violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution." For Meland, sitting on an all-male board, the new law forces him and other shareholders alike to perpetuate sex-based discrimination when voting in board elections. Rather than voting for a woman solely on her credentials and potential to make effective decisions about the growth and future of the company, shareholders are left choose a token woman that will fulfill the criteria of the bill and ultimately protect the business from paying a fine.

While the legal concerns surrounding the Women Quota affect shareholders more than the women being placed on company boards, the ramifications of this bill are serving to hinder women in their fight for gender equality and diversity in the corporate workforce. Companies being forced to have women sit on their board will not only fail to see them as valuable assets towards the growth of the company, but it perpetuates the stereotype that women are incapable of attaining top level positions on their own without any outside help or handouts.

On Pacific Legal Foundation's website, the foundation filing Meland case, attorney Anastasia Boden wrote a response to an article written on Vox that accused PLF's lawsuit of "allegedly discriminating against men." According to Boden, the sex-based classifications needed to fulfill the criteria of the quota are far more damaging to women than they are helpful. They undermine any achievements these women will make in the future therefore reinforcing antiquated stereotypes while inadvertently opening the doors to further sexism in the workplace. Rather than recognizing women for the work they do and the success of their contributions, the stigma associated of being a "quota hire" will prevent women from receiving proper recognition.

While Boden argues that there is no evidence of discrimination in every boardroom, the women's quota does not offer a remedy for it either. When, in a board meeting, all members are aware of the fact that some members hold positions not through merit alone, but because the government has had the upper hand in that decision, women run the risk of being excluded from important decisions.

Not only does California's new law undermine women and their capabilities, but it may be misguided in perpetuating the idea that there are so few companies willing to put women on their board or that women are struggling to get those positions themselves. Boded cited the Equilar Gender Diversity Index which shows that women are already near parity even though women admittedly have a long way to go to in order to reach full gender parity.

"In Q2 2019, 42% of new board members across the top 3,000 were women. Over 20% of board members for those companies are women; 90% of boards have at least one woman," stated Boden.

Diminishing the progress that has already been made towards achieving gender equality and diversity does not provide a remedy for the lack thereof, but makes victims out of women while discouraging shareholders and investors from hiring women simply because they believe it is the fair and reasonable thing to do. Despite the well-intentioned effort to give women opportunities to hold positions they deserve; California's "Women Quota" seems to miss the mark when it comes to uplifting female leaders while breaking away from stereotypes that have oppressed women long enough.

5 Min Read

I Started Off In The Inner City; Now I'm Using My Success Story To Uplift Inner-City Youth​

When I immigrated to the United States at 7 years old, at first, this country was so completely foreign to me that I didn't yet understand that there was any such thing as living in a "poor area."

Moreover, I couldn't even begin to conceive that I was most definitely living in one. The inner city was the only United States I knew.

I couldn't understand that there were different types of schools, charter schools, private schools, magnet schools... There was just school (public, of course). Going there every day simply became routine: Get up, go to school, go home. The option of extracurricular activities was scary to me at the time, and the area was already considered unsafe so I was never exposed to anything outside of that routine until I was about 12 years old.

I know firsthand that inner-city and underprivileged kids don't always have the same opportunities and resources to thrive in society as others.

Living in the inner city affects all families and people of all ages, but nobody is affected more than children. Growing up as a child in the inner city is challenging, and unfortunately, there is a natural disadvantage that comes with it. One that I understand firsthand.

Inner-city youths usually don't have adequate facilities to promote a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. Parks aren't always clean or safe, there isn't a variety of sports and other extracurricular activities outside of school. And the education isn't always on the same level as other more well-off areas. For most kids, a solid education is perhaps their only chance at getting off the streets, so they can create a better situation for their own kids. But if these inner-city kids aren't given the same educational opportunities as others, then they never will get out. The cycle continues.

Personally, I'm not sure who I would have been if it weren't for the opportunities my parents strove to create for me. If they hadn't believed in me enough to put me in modeling classes, I probably would never have been able to find my passion for performing in front of people, which then led me to join theater, which then segued into me competing in my first pageant. And, if you know me, you know that pageants have changed my life in a big way.

Because the environment I was living in, outside of my home, wasn't an inspirational or motivational one, I felt such a disconnect between the successful lives people were living on TV and the life that I was living or the future that I thought was attainable for me.

If we do not empower our inner-city youth it does our entire society a great disservice. We lose out on thousands, millions of potential doctors, innovators, entrepreneurs, politicians, and creatives. Think about where the world would be if people like Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King Jr, or Marie Curie hadn't grown up in supportive families or environments? Would they have believed in themselves and achieved all they have? Maybe note, and the way we live would certainly be very different.

I give all the credit for my success in life to my parents. I was lucky enough to have a mom and dad who supported me beyond all belief and had the ability to go so far out of their way in order to give me the opportunities that got me where I am today.

When I was 12, my dad would drive me two hours to a modeling school, sit in his car in the brutal Boston winter for four hours until class was out, and then drive us back home another two hours. Or when I changed schools and could join the band and learn how to play an instrument, my mom saved up all of our extra money on the side so that I could afford to be a part of the band and learn how to play the tuba and the trombone.

My parents always reminded me that they believed in my abilities, my passions, and my potential to really make a difference in the world. And knowing this became a driving force for me. If my parents thought I could do it, it gave me all the reassurance I needed.

To this day my parents constantly emphasize that I have the capabilities to achieve anything so long as I am kind to others, work hard, and have faith.

My parents have truly helped me become who I am today. Now that I am reaping the rewards of the seeds my parents sowed in me, I want to be a guiding light for the kids that may not have parents like mine. I may not be able to solve all the problems out in the world, but what I can do is give inner-city kids the hope and confidence they need to achieve a successful life despite their circumstances.

Growing up with the notion that we either are enough or not enough, just one or the other, is simply society's way of trying to cap our abilities. The place you are born, the economic class you are born into, and the parents you are born with should not decide where you end up in life. We are all more than enough, period.

That's how the name of my initiative came about, with the mission to instill confidence and empower inner-city youth to live to their full potential despite their circumstances.

The "More Than Enough" initiative consists of school talks, workshops, and one-on-one mentorship. But first, I like to focus on sharing my personal story, because I believe that when they hear about someone they can relate to and when they see what I have been able to do with my life, I can become an inspiration just by standing in front of them and telling my story.

Then I focus on building up their self-esteem and confidence within themselves, and shifting how they view the world around them. I always tell them that everything and anything they need to succeed in life, they already have inside of them. Then I give them the tools and concrete ways so they can stay on track and navigate who they truly are, what they want to do, and how to do it.

Working with inner-city and underprivileged youth is something that I am dedicating to doing for the rest of my life. I believe in the positive impact that this work will have on our society. Because no one should be capped on their capabilities.

If these kids don't have a role model in their lives, I am committed to being that for them.