Women in the workforce: Incompetence versus discrimination


Women have been discriminated against in the workplace. I’m not pretending it doesn’t happen, because it does. There are “good old boys networks” and those can have a negative impact on women at work.

But women need to get with the program and figure out when there’s discrimination and when they’re just incompetent (or at the very least not working up to the standards of their male counterparts).

Case in point: Nannette Hegarty, former police chief for the City of Milwaukee. I had high hopes for Nan when she took office. Unfortunately, she was a complete and utter failure at her job. Her officers never respected her, and crime thrived while she was in charge.

Yet following her retirement, she filed a discrimination claim, alleging that she was paid less than the male chiefs before and after her. She ended her career at a salary of $132,554. The new chief Edward Flynn, came in with a salary of $143,881.

If it’s not clear that Flynn was far more qualified for this job than Nan was, I’m not sure how to help her. She came in with relatively lower experience, and she failed at the job by all objective measures. Why should Nan Hegarty have been rewarded for that lack of experience and lack of results?

And here’s a hilarious little detail about the discrimination claim. Hegarty claimed she was paid less than her predecessor, Clown Arthur Jones. He started the job of chief at $95,927, while she started the same job at a salary $17,000 higher. That’s discrimination?

The bottom line is that Nan Hegarty was incompetent in her position as chief. She probably tried hard, but she just couldn’t do the job. She should have retired gracefully. But she didn’t. She brought this silly claim against the city and made her legacy even that much more of a joke.

Thankfully, Hegarty’s case was dismissed today by the Equal Rights Division of the State Department of Workforce Development. I’m embarrassed for Nan, and I’m embarrassed for all women who have legitimate discrimination complaints, because their cases will be viewed more skeptically after frivolous complaints like this are made.

If women are paid less in their jobs, they need to either stand up and demand higher pay, or they need to examine their own results at work and determine if they’re being paid less because of lower performance. (I submit to you that it’s most often a case of the women not producing.) Don’t automatically assume that some sinister form of discrimination is at work.

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