Firstly, I commend Jeannette Chau, P.Eng., on her statement that we need more engineers in politics (“Because it’s 2018!” Engineering Dimensions, January/February 2018). This would cause policy to be founded on logic and reason, not appearances, emotion, expediency, political gain, etc. Importantly, if the current process for candidate selection is fair (I don’t claim that it is or it isn’t), the onus is on engineers to enter politics. Too few do.
However, I take issue with her commending Trudeau for deliberately forming a cabinet of 50 per cent of each gender. About 25 per cent of federal MPs are female and the PM’s stated objective was to have 50 per cent of cabinet ministers to be from that female 25 per cent. Any good control engineer understands that to achieve a specific outcome, the input must be changed—in this case, selecting ministers based on their gender instead of on merit, experience and qualifications. His stated purpose was to ensure gender equality. What could be more wrong than overtly practising sexism to achieve gender equality? While obviously sexism is being not just condoned, not merely recommended but indeed enforced, this single act, having great influence coming from the most powerful person in the country, will set gender equality and the fight against sexism back a generation. Women will be the primary long-term victims as the bureaucrats who work for those ministers will question whether their minister was the best choice or was chosen merely because she had the preferred gender, and others in the working world will do the same. I do not wish that my daughter’s coworkers question her qualifications or merit. PEO should not join the chorus in favour of sexism and should instead fight to break down barriers and encourage hiring based on merit, qualifications and equal opportunity. The goal must always be to create a fair hiring process rather than one where certain genders, races, etc. are preferred in order to achieve a specific outcome or quota. One cannot achieve gender or racial equality through the practice of sexism or racism.
R. Glenn Givens, P.Eng., Burlington, ON