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Julia Pierson: When you pick a woman to head the Secret Service just because she’s a woman

October 3, 2014

From The New Republic:

Julia Pierson USSS.jpg

Pierson was, in fact, explicitly brought in to clean up a mess. When President Obama nominated her last year, it was on the heels of news that Secret Service employees hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia ahead of the president’s arrival. Pierson was meant to be a breath of fresh feminine air to clear out the macho cobwebs still dogging the agency.

But of course, this being the ultra-PC TNR, we’re not allowed to notice that Pierson actually failed to clear out those “macho cobwebs” that apparently led to a gross and potentially fatal breach of White House security. She failed to “clean up a mess.”

So let’s see, TNR, what can we invent to excuse our “breath of fresh feminine air”? Oh right: underfunding!

In his book on the secret service, Ronald Kessler describes how agents are stretched so thin that the agency grapples with high turnover. And he points the finger at Sullivan, “whom he argued made it seem as if the Service could function well with what it has been given,” writes Kate Dries. But Congress certainly shares the blame. This is the first year since 2010 that the agency isn’t operating with a budget below what it requested. And since that year, personnel levels have seen a severe decline. In her testimony before Congress, Pierson said that the agency’s current 550 employees is below “optimal level.”

And here’s a new one: the “glass cliff”:

So Pierson took the reins of a very troubled agency when she made history as its first head. And in that she is not alone. Multiple studies have found that women are most likely to be given a chance at top roles in the corporate world when things are already bad. One found that before a woman took over as CEO of a Fortune 500 company between 1996 and 2010, its previous performance was significantly negative. Another found that FTSE 100 companies who appointed women to their boards were more likely to have had five months of consistently bad performance compared to those who picked men. Another found that companies were most likely to choose women for their boards after a loss that signaled the company was underperforming. Even in a lab, students and business leaders are more likely to pick a woman to lead a hypothetical organization when performance is on the decline.

***

But many women on the glass cliff simply fall off. Female CEOs, for example, are more likely to end up forced out than men. And when they leave, they are likely to get replaced by a man. As for the Secret Service, it turns out that Joseph Clancy will be Pierson’s temporary replacement….

Actually, I feel sorry for Pierson. She was put into a position where she was way over her head–because someone in the Obama administration thought it would be a great way to cement that Democratic female vote to have a first-ever female head of Secret Security. Pierson was a double victim: Not just of affirmative action but of naked political vote pandering. I wish her well in her next job.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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