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Equality: Through the lens or through outcomes

Unsplash @timmossholder

Feminism is an ideology. An advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of gender equality. No council/society/body strictly governs what feminism truly encapsulates. Thus, different people have different interpretations of it. This is a parallel view of two different perspectives of feminism or any other advocacy to establish any kind of equality.

An ideal society having equality would have people impartially looking at 'people' regardless of their genders or ethnicity. This is equality through the lens. The only problem is, it's difficult to establish such a society, almost impossible to.

Here's why: You can't quantify impartiality. If I am a recruiter, and you send in an Indian and an American to me for an interview, how will you gauge that my final decision was irrespective of their nationalities (assuming that I was aware of them)? If I give the job to the Indian, maybe he/she was more qualified. But as my manager, how do you verify this? You most probably can't.

So here comes in statistics, aka equality through outcomes.

Since there is no way to quantitatively establish equality "through the lens"(be it ethnicity-wise, nation-wise or gender-wise), most people (or organizations) rely on equality through outcomes. "If there are 8 people we need for a job, we'll have 4 men and 4 women." Of all the applicants, you could have found 6 women worthy of the position, but because of this limitation, 2 women don't get the job and 2 men get it who were probably under-qualified, or vice versa. You see, it all depends on the set of people who are being evaluated. I, as a recruiter, have to make sure that I look at 'people' and not let their nationalities, genders, cultures interfere with my judgement, but my managers won't trust it to my judgement and would impose such a condition (or a reservation).

We take a blow with meritocracy to statistically prove that the organization upholds equality. I'm not saying it's wrong, there is no other foreseeable way to evidently achieve equality with proof. But it's probably not 100% right either.

Many scholars argue that as we grow more diverse and recognize more genders, nations and cultures, the positions we reserve for under-represented sections of people will also grow and meritocracy will take a huge blow. The major problem here is that the under-represented sections often do not have enough resources to hunt for opportunities as much as the privileged.

Feminism is much more than fighting for equal representation or equal opportunities. I focused my examples on organizations and employment since, as a student, I feel that's where equality is needed the most.

However, what we as a society need to figure out is better ways to establish equality. Because equality through the lens is what we truly want, not equality through outcomes. The latter is just an intermediate step to achieve the former. But let's not forget what happened the last time somebody advocated "reservation" for the upliftment of the under-represented (Constitutional Reservation, India). Eventually people cling to this intermediate stage, stop looking at the bigger picture and the difference is maintained.

Please also note that I am talking about equality in all aspects of society. Gender equality is still the number one priority but it's not the only equality that's needed.

I would love to know what some of you think about this in the comments. Is the current way alright? Is equality through outcomes the only way to achieve true equality? What other way would you propose to eliminate patriarchy?


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