As 2018 came to a close, my Instagram suggested page and the news were filled with a mix of stories mentioning this year’s highs and lows. One of the stories attempted to conjure up hope by discussing new beneficial laws that would go into effect in the United States in 2019. One is a law in California that will require each public company in that state to include one woman on their board by 2019. It also requires that by 2021, two women must be on boards of directors consisting of five people, and three women must be on boards of directors with six or more people. Already, similar laws have been passed in many European countries (such as Germany, Iceland, Sweden etc.), to increase diversity on the boards in those countries. The Californian law will also fine the companies that choose not to add a woman to their boards. But for some of the billion dollar companies in California, this fine will not be detrimental to their company and therefore they can simply ignore the law. According to Vox, “one-quarter of the publicly traded companies headquartered in California don’t have any women on their board.” This law hopes to change that, but in doing so I believe it creates reverse sexism and promotes inequality. This law was signed by Governor Jerry Brown and passed both the democratic Assembly and State Senate. While I completely value and agree with the idea that a diverse group of people leads to prosperity and more innovative thinking and ideas, and that this is especially helpful when running a company, creating laws which mandate who has to be on a board, or work where, highlights the fact that those people didn’t earn a spot there in their own right. Men and women are equal and women should be able to get an elite board position without a law insisting that they must. It diminishes the credibility of those women. There is also the argument that the government should not get involved in economic and business affairs of individual companies. The state of California arguably should not be able to dictate the formation of boards, shouldn’t that solely be decided by talent? For the reasons above, this law might not even hold up in court, because this could remove board members from their jobs solely on the basis of sex, not merit, which goes against equality and the law. But, to me, the main takeaway of this law is the lack of natural improvement in the realm of diversity. The fact that this law is even necessary shows how gender equality is failing to be displayed in leadership positions of big companies, and the companies don’t seem to care that much. This highlights what seems to be an unachievable idea of diversity in leadership. More people provide more perspectives, but large companies don’t seem to recognize that, and this law may not even force them to do so. So does this law represent feminism or reverse sexism? Does it give women a chance to be equal or diminish their equality?

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