This commentary began taking shape when I listened to the news out of our beloved (add sarcasm) but very strange state of California that a bill was in the formative stages mandating that a female be placed on the Board (of directors) of every publicly held entity within the state. Leave it to California to muck up the progress that women have made in the last 25 years by suggested their gender, alone, was somehow qualifying for a leadership position. Ladies, such nonsense is doing you no favors. Here is my take.
I am married to a bobcat, pictured below, disguised as a very nice lady with good manners and appropriate social grace, attributes that served her well as an elementary principal. She seldom relies on her sometimes ferocious feline tendencies, but when she does, she can make a point. Sharon dislikes the haggling associated with buying a vehicle, but does take the lead when the vehicle in question is to be her daily driver. Her technique always brings a smile to my face. She confronts the unfortunate salesman (woman) and calmly suggests that I am along for window dressing, not to close a deal. She will square up, look this person in the eye and suggest they need to quickly find their low dollar offer and that if he (me) steps in and is able to reduce the purchase price by as much as 10 dollars, we walk. It is an effective technique, and we have walked on several occasions, to the dismay of perplexed sales associates. She doesn’t just say it, she means it.
With this background in mind, the news of the day continues to somehow suggest that women are inferior in some way to their male counterparts and deserve recognition based on gender alone. That philosophy does not fly in the Johnson household, but is still prevalent in our world. There are numerous other examples of this attitude out there. When Captain Tammie Joe Shults (pictured below) calmly and professionally piloted an airliner, that had suffered a catastrophic engine failure, to a successful landing, it was her gender that made the headlines, and not her measured coolness and ability to fly under trying circumstances. My God, man, a woman dared to exhibit extraordinary skill in a trying circumstance that most male Captains would be expected to accomplish easily. A woman who was once told women can not fly. My own flying career, the modest pursuit of a Sport Pilot rating, temporarily (I hope) derailed by a series of aggravating but not disqualifying health issues, has involved a total of four instructors. Each of them were competent enough instructors, but please be assured that my last instructor, Ms. Jeanne’ Willerth, (below, sitting on an airplane being towed with a flat nose wheel) is as competent a pilot and a better instructor than anyone I have ever shared the cockpit with. Her gender has nothing to do with her remarkable ability to make a point and teach you to fly…….believe me.
Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri’s outsized military base, has recently been placed under the command of a diminutive black female, recently promoted to Major General. The news announcing her elevation to this position is rift with references to her sex and race. This is another example of gender (and race) getting ahead of the story. I am betting the General is absolutely capable of commanding an Army base and, when necessary, issuing orders that her subordinates will immediately comply with. Once again, we are doing no favors to the gender issue by making it THE issue. It is time to grow up folks.
This phenomenon is much more pronounced in male dominated fields. Among the pilots flying commercially in America, less than 4.4% are women. Obviously in law enforcement and the military, women are in a distinct minority, and without getting into the traditional arguments revolving around physical strength and bravado, are actually doing quite well. My own daughter, (below) a trooper here in Missouri, maintains an enviable conditioning regimen, necessary to do the job when the situation arises resulting in her putting her hands on a miscreant. A stronger male violator may be able to take her down, but he sure as hell will know he has been in a fight. This same thing could be said of any number of male officers I have worked with over the years.
Perhaps I will see the day when gender is not the over-riding issue when a leadership position is filled. We are living in a day and age when women are rapidly assuming roles that were traditionally male bastions just a few short years ago. I offer medicine, both veterinary and human, as a vivid example, as well as the military, piloting and police professions. I intend to accord the same respect to the professional I encounter, irrespective of their gender, as has been my practice for many years. The bobcat that I am married to, my daughter and my flight instructor will see to it.
The women in my life do not walk behind me, rather with me, and that, my dear readers, is how it should be!