There's a scene in the British movie Magicians where one of the judges at a magic contest says he has to pick a female act to be one of the winners, and even though he doesn't like the one female act who actually showed up, he therefore has to pick her in order to be politically correct. This scene always makes me uncomfortable, mostly because a magician friend of mine assures me that this kind of thing really happens.

The problem is, of course, that women are underrepresented in the world of magic, as everywhere else. It seems like someone decided the solution was to force people in positions of authority -- by which I mean male judges -- to pick some women to artificially get ahead because they're women. This only further demoralises them by pointing out they didn't get ahead on their own talent and merit, while simultaneously annoying the often more talented men, making them resent political correctness.

Perhaps a better approach would be to encourage women to aim higher, to teach us that we can indeed attain dream jobs. Maybe then there'd be more talented women to choose from in the first place. That has to be done at an earlier age, though, by parents encouraging their daughters, and I guess it risks setting your daughter up for a fall. I suspect it still needs to be done, however, to make true progress. Curiously, no one seems to have similar reservations with their sons, even though most of them also won't win magic contests.

To paraphrase Sturgeon's Law, in any given field, most people are somewhere between talentless and mediocre, whereas only a few are actually good. So if there's only one person to choose from in a particular marginalised group (say, women) within the main group (say, magicians in this example), then statistically they're not likely to be very good. Similarly, most of the men aren't very good either, but there's so many of them that there's bound to be a good one somewhere.

So once women are encouraged to aim our sights higher, and also to be the editors, judges, A&R people and others in charge of gatekeeping, there should finally be an equilibrium where there are just as many women as men who are actually doing these things well. This would be a much better scenario than being resented and either turned down because we're women or chosen because we're women, with our abilities being an afterthought either way.

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