Saturday, April 18, 2009

Flexibility at the FBI Reflects Move To Attract More Women

In the past, FBI Special Agents were almost exclusively male. In part, this was because women had a harder time passing the firearms test because the firearm that they use for the test (and carry 24 hours a day) is built for a man's hand. On it's website, the FBI discusses it's need to recruit more women:

"In many cases, women possess different analytical skills, approach problems differently, and have different talents and abilities than do men. These different skills, approaches, and talents often spell the difference between success and failure on a case or investigation. We have found that investigative teams composed of a blend of female and male Special Agents are much more effective at bringing complex investigations to a speedy and successful resolution."

Interestingly, the FBI has even created a part-time program for Special Agents, stating "Female agents are still trying to balance family and work, and the FBI is doing what it can to help, recognizing the tremendous value female Special Agents bring to the FBI." The FBI's recognition of women's performance has moved the FBI to a newfound flexibility on its policies. If the FBI were simply complying with gender discrimination laws, I doubt we'd see part-time Special Agent positions.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Notre Dame's And Obama's Catholic Values

Some prominent Catholics have objected to Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama to speak at its commencement in May and receive an honorary degree.

In an editorial in the LA Times, the university's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, emphasized that the invitation to Obama "should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research."

The editorial concludes, "in resisting that campaign, Notre Dame has kept faith with both its religious and its academic missions." I would make a stronger case: Notre Dame is keeping faith with Catholic values. In the 2004 election, I convinced one of my stalwart anti-choice sisters that she could vote for John Kerry despite his position on abortion by referring her to an op-ed in the NYTimes by the Dean of Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters entitled "Voting Our Conscience, Not Our Religion". In this piece, Dean Mark Roche argued that Catholics could and should vote for pro-choice Democrats citing evidence from around the globe that liberal abortion laws result in fewer abortions. He also noted that Democrats favor many other policies that are in sync with Catholic views, eg, opposition to the death penalty and the war in Iraq, etc.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What Did Hillary Say To Michelle? Talk to Cherie Blair

In the most recent edition of the French magazine, Paris Match, Michelle Obama is luminous on the cover wearing a pink lace dress. In the article, she is profiled about life in the White House and quoted as saying “the last time that Barack asked me for my opinion was planning our vacation”. What would you think if your girlfriend or sister said this about her husband? You might not believe her. Or you would wonder how she combined a Stepford Wife and Barbie so quickly.

Europe swooned over Michelle last week and I wonder if it is because they embrace the new White House Barbie or because they see through this image to the strong, uber-competent woman and wink, “we’re with you, Michelle and we are excited to see what you will do when the dust settles.”

I find the coverage of Michelle's clothing disappointingly superficial. If fashion were Michelle's career, as it was for Carla Bruni Sarkozy, then it would make sense to focus on this as a strength. However, it's strange for a lawyer to be thrust into the fashion spotlight, simply because of her new position.

I hope Michelle takes her next cue from Cherie Blair and not from Hillary Clinton's mistakes twenty years ago. Cherie Blair continued with her career as an attorney while her husband served as Prime Minister. With Michelle’s giant resume, she has the capacity to accomplish huge things (I’m hoping the White House organic garden took about a millisecond of her time)and still be loved by all.