Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Among (white) men

Virtually all day yesterday and today, plus dinner last night and a public hearing tonight, I've been involved with Town Council interviews of our three finalists for town manager. Since the only other female council member has been unable to attend all but a fraction of the day sessions, and since the candidates are all white men, I've often been the only woman in a crowded room. It's all white men except for my colleague Bill Thorpe. I'm used to working with men, but this was a palpable distinction.

I wasn't on the council subcommittee that recommended our three finalists, and I was disappointed that a woman or minority was not among them, but I trust their judgment when they say that these three were significantly ahead of the pack. I wonder if it isn't self-perpetuating--women not being promoted, and so unable to make their mark and show their wonderful qualifications. But when it comes time to evaluate resumes and references, it's hard to justify taking a chance on someone who doesn't have the experience. It's a dilemma. I don't know the answer.

We did, however, end up with three very qualified candidates. Our decision will not be easy. It's of some interest to note that all three of them come from cities more demographically diverse than Chapel Hill: Elgin, Illinois; Aurora, Colorado; Fayetteville, N.C.

Meanwhile, Portland and Seattle are getting whiter. It feels as if Chapel Hill is too--and for the same reasons.

UPDATE from Mark Kleinschmidt: And they're all straight too.

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