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Responding the other day to a story that we had about the gender discrimination suit pending against Wal-Mart, MNB user David J. Livingston wrote, in part: How absurd. Salary is negotiated between the person or union and their employer. This is a free country where everyone is free to pick and choose their compensation level based upon their own ambition and negotiation skills. It has nothing to do with being a man or a women but rather skill and ambition.

Our response was that we didn’t think the issue was that cut and dried.

There certainly have been plenty of cases in this country where old boy networks serve to keep women underpaid and under-promoted. It happens less and less, but it still happens. And while a lawsuit ought to be the last resort, sometimes it is the only way to get justice. And we assume that whichever way the result of this case goes, the result will be justice. We also suggested that there may be a few women out there who will disagree with Livingston’s assessment.

Well, this morning MNB user Livingston has a rejoinder:

I have to disagree with your comment "there certainly have been plenty of cases in this country where old boy networks serve to keep women underpaid and under-promoted." You seem to insinuate that the old boy networks only serve to keep women underpaid an under-promoted.

I would wager that these old boy networks discriminate against more men than they do women. Going up against the old boy network is a business fact of life just about everyone has to deal with. Overcoming the barriers created by the old boy networks requires skill and ambition. Women who are determined to overcome this barrier generally do. Those who don't generally sue.

This statement, in our mind, presumes that almost all lawsuits are filed because people are good enough or tough enough to make it on their own.

Not every old boys network is designed to protect men’s interests, but we continue to believe that plenty of them are…and we’re sort of surprised that you haven’t bumped up against that. Maybe you’ve worked in some remarkably enlightened places…and if so, good for you and for them.

But we are not so sanguine to think that in this country, skill and ambition always are rewarded.

Relevant to this discussion, by the way, is our contention that one of the reasons that US supermarkets are out of touch with consumers is that too many chains have too few women in senior management. Which seems silly, since the industry’s primary customers happen to be women.

But heaven forbid that the people running the companies ought to be the same people who are customers.

Don’t get us started…
KC's View: