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Is It Sexist To Want The Person Flying The Plane To Be A Pilot?

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With all this talk about Sarah Palin redefining feminism and people who don't support her candidacy being sexist, I think we could use a little clarification.

Women's progress at work and in government is critically important. We are not, after all, living in the Dark Ages. But, and this is a VERY IMPORTANT BUT, consider the following scenario.

You're about to board a plane and a flight attendant says, "Today as part of our responsiveness to customers program you may choose Mr. Jones here as co-pilot. He will fly the airplane should something go wrong with the pilot, who isn't at his best today. Mr. Jones has been a pilot for twenty years and has an impeccable record. He is, however, a man. Because you support the advancement of women in the workplace, we also have a woman here who is willing to fly your plane. She is not a pilot but she didn't blink when asked to do this and for the past week a team of experts has been talking to her a lot about how to fly."

Who would you choose? If you chose Pilot Jones, would that be sexist? Or would you simply not be a complete idiot?

Apply this to Sarah Palin. She has not spent time in Washington as a senator or a congresswoman. She has spent most of her life in Alaska. From her interview with Charlie Gibson, it is clear that she is proud of not blinking about making decisions that affect millions of lives. And she is uninformed about the workings of the U.S. government.

Personally I'd have nothing against Sarah running for a seat in the House or Senate. It's a reasonable next step. And were she blocked from this path because of her gender, disparaged and demeaned in the press, I'd be miffed for sure. That would be sexist.

But just because I'd like to go to NASA and tell them that by November I want to be an astronaut, doesn't mean they should hand over the space shuttle.

There is far too much at stake to put someone completely inexperienced in the ways of Washington and the world so close to the presidency. There's no excuse for it, really. John McCain should know that. That's not sexist; it's simply common sense.

Dr. Reardon also blogs at bardscove.

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