The social engineers are at it again.
Here in Victoria, under the Bracks Labor Government, there is a campaign to recruit more women into the police force. The Police Chief Commissioner, Christine Nixon, wants equal opportunity laws set aside so that women can be recruited instead of more qualified men.
Nationally, under the Howard Liberal Government, $2.5 million has been allocated to recruit women into traditionally male dominated university courses such as engineering.
So both the left and right wing of politics agree that the number of men in professional jobs should be decreased in favour of less qualified or less motivated women. Why?
It's not because of public pressure. In fact, a Herald Sun voteline showed 93% of the public against the new police recruitment scheme.
Nor can it be an issue of fairness. Many letter writers to the papers have pointed out that there are no similar schemes to promote men into professions dominated by women. (Women hold 57% of jobs in the Victorian Public Service, 73% of teaching jobs in Australia, 75% of counselling jobs at the Family Court, 80% of jobs at the Bank of Melbourne, 95% of preschool teaching jobs in Qld, and 100% of midwifery jobs at the Mercy Hospital).
Similarly there are no schemes to promote men into university courses dominated by women (77% of health students are female, as are 73% of education students. Overall, 55% of first year students are female.)
So if there is no public demand for change, and no issue of fairness, why do both the left and right wing parties want to make changes to traditionally male dominated professions?
The answer is that the Labor and Liberal parties are both essentially liberal in their basic philosophy. They believe that there should be no impediments to our individual will. Therefore, they view the influence of sex roles on individuals as being an oppressive limitation.
For liberals, the existence of a male dominated profession will be seen as one such "oppressive limitation" on women.
Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that we are born with a particular nature, and that we fulfil ourselves by working within the best of that nature. Therefore, it would seem only natural to conservatives that more men would choose to join the police force, whilst more women would prefer to work with young children as preschool teachers. A conservative would not see this as oppressive or discriminatory, but as a simple reflection of differences in the nature of men and women.
The liberal view is likely to lead to great distortions as the percentage of men undertaking higher education, and joining the professions, falls further and further behind women. No doubt, we will be told that the problem is that men are becoming redundant in the modern world, or that men have to change their masculine ways. Remember, though, that behind these changes are deliberate government policies which will continue to operate until the conservative view takes a greater role in Australian society.
(First published at Conservative Central 20/05/2002)