Stop counting women in the quest for women's rights

In the quest for women's rights, a fixation on numerical goals can lead to a false sense of clarity and certainty.

I recently joined the board of a small non-profit organisation. I can't say for sure that my ovaries got me the gig, but I think they were at least part of my appeal. That uncertainty isn't pleasant, but it's less unpleasant than not being invited to join the board at all.

For many professional women, doing gender-balance maths is a tic, a reflexive response to being in too many rooms with too few other women. That reflex was on display last month, when the announcement of Oscar nominations set off the annual ritual of counting up female nominees and then lamenting the ways in which women have been slighted. In recent years, the Hollywood commentariat has institutionalised my counting reflex.

Please or to continue reading the full article. Learn more about ST PREMIUM.

Enjoy unlimited access to ST's best work

  • Exclusive stories and features on multiple devices
  • In-depth analyses and opinion pieces
  • ePaper and award-winning multimedia content
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2019, with the headline 'Stop counting women'. Print Edition | Subscribe