We wonder what Nashua's appointed boards would look like if Alderman-at-large Barbara Pressly had full authority to choose all members. No doubt there would be more women, as Pressly has made a point of complaining that the boards have too few women. Or would there be?
"The balance of these boards is not reflective of the community," Pressly said last week upon the appointment of six new board members, five of whom were men.
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau noted in response, "I don't think there have ever been an equal amount of women compared to men (on city boards). But I am definitely not discriminating. I can't think of any women that I have turned down."
Lozeau, of course, is a woman, which makes this whole issue rather amusing. How dare she discriminate against women!
If there were evidence of discrimination, Pressly's complaint would have more weight. But the evidence is that women simply are not applying for the positions. What is a mayor to do about that? And why?
Keep in mind that the current board composition is a snapshot in time. The percentage of women or minorities applying to and being selected for various positions ebbs and flows. Is there an issue to be addressed here? Maybe, but the ratios alone don't necessarily say that.
Inclusion is a worthy goal. It is not, however, the only goal, or the primary one. Sure, encourage more women to volunteer. But don't make the mistake of thinking that any subgroup will or should have its population percentage precisely reflected in public bodies, either elected or appointed. Freedom never produces such neat results.