Cherchez la femme

I do not seek affirmative action, but I do believe in the importance of searching for worthy female candidates for some senior positions.

The chairman of the Securities Authority, the director of the Tax Authority, the director-general of the Antitrust Authority, the Civil Service commissioner, the supervisor in charge of the Treasury’s Capital Markets, Savings and Insurance Division, and the accountantgeneral in the Finance Ministry – more than a few senior civil service positions will soon become open. Of all these, only one – the director-general of the Antitrust Authority, is held by a woman.
Replacements constitute an opportunity for change – both in concept and essence. Here, the concept is that candidates should come from the same guild of senior positions in the civil service, which is mostly comprised of men, and the essence is the fact that the presiding majority of people in these positions are men.
Today, most candidates are men, as this is a system that nurtures itself.
Men, who are less affected by raising children and housework, progress faster to middle-sector positions, so when the time comes to select for senior positions, the contenders are almost all male. To cope with this problem, the appointing ministers should seek candidates from all sectors, and not necessarily from right under their noses.
During the various periods in which I served as a minister, I attempted to broaden my search to fill senior positions, both within the offices and without. True, the first names suggested were not always women, but I tried to find women befitting the position and to appoint some of them. True, the furnishing of female candidates for senior positions requires an effort on the part of the appointees, as the people “next in line” aren’t always female, but it is worthwhile.
I am not seeking affirmative action, but I do believe in the importance of searching for worthwhile candidates not because they are women, but because they are the best candidates for the job.
One can expand on the unique traits of women, on their different ways of thinking, their different priorities, and so on. But the real reason for appointing many more women to senior positions in the civil service is the simple fact that women constitute 51 percent of the population, and are therefore worthy of greater representation.
IT IS time we all made an effort to bring more women into the leadership of the country, both in appointed and elected positions. The work being performed in the government by only three female ministers and three female directors of government offices testifies to the lack of awareness of the problem, and the lack of any real desire to provide a solution.
It is no coincidence that so many positions of influence are becoming open. The challenge the government faces is of double significance: first and foremost, the need to find worthy, independent candidates who will advance these important areas, and second, to provide an expression of our multi-faceted society via government appointments, particularly of women, who are underrepresented in senior government positions.
The writer is chairwoman of the Kadima faction in the Knesset.