Am I the only one baffled by the Governor’s choice for Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol?
If you haven’t heard, Bradley Rice, the nominee for this position, was involved in a gender discrimination lawsuit when he was formerly with the NSP. In the trial, Rice admitted to providing interview advantages to men (a daylong prep session with the successful candidate and provided tips to two other male applicants, but not the female applicant) when he sat on the interview panel. You can certainly read more about it in the OWH and on Nebraska Watchdog, but long story short, the patrol lost the lawsuit and chose not to appeal, making restitution to the female officer and giving her the promotion. Subsequent articles have revealed more allegations of Mr. Rice’s views, such as comments that he believes women should not be employed in law enforcement at all.
So out of all the people Governor Ricketts could tap for this role, this is the guy?
To provide perspective, this is the same Governor who a few weeks ago asked Pat McPherson to resign over a racially-charged blog posting that McPherson says he did not even write. A racial slur on a blog post, unacceptable. But using your power to deny a female a promotion, costing thousands of dollars in legal fees–well, everyone makes mistakes.
In seriousness, whenever stories about sexism or gender discrimination in the workplace come up amongst my male friends, two things usually happen. One, there is usually a lot of resistance to and discomfort about thinking that that still happens. (It does. Not claiming a victim card, just stating a fact. It can be blatant, it can be subtle. But it happens.) Two, if they are a father, they say, “I’m going to teach my daughter differently. I’m going to show her that life is about possibilities, and the stuff isn’t going to affect her. I’m going to teach her to rise above it.” I’m sure a lot of fathers think that. That’s how I was raised, too. We will just raise our daughters to work hard, make good choices, and they will succeed.
But the bottom line is this: when they encounter someone who doesn’t think they should succeed because they are a female, and that someone has the institutional power within the workplace to deny them, every lesson we’ve taught them means nothing. Their skills, abilities, competencies, and drive don’t matter, because a man with power won’t let it matter. And every time we let something like this slide, or say “well, maybe we don’t know the whole story,” and give power back to someone who abuses it, we are really saying it’s okay–paving the way for the daughters we teach today to have daughters of their own with the exact same stories.
Maybe Mr. Rice isn’t a blatant sexist, but even his strongest defenders would have to admit that his actions appear to be, at the very least, a little sexist. Which leads me to wonder–if we have to ask the question of whether, just maybe, he’s a little sexist, should we be elevating him to the Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol?