All hail, Baroness Hale, a woman who believes ability trumps diversity
All hail Baroness Hale of Richmond, President of the Supreme Court and Britain’s most senior judge. Having climbed to the very top of the judicial greasy pole, 73-year-old Lady Hale has also, finally, made it onto the pages of British Vogue. But instead of mooning over how wonderful it is to be cheekby-jowl with fashion icons, or uttering the usual platitudes about inspiration and girl power, the splendid Baroness has expressed … humble amusement. “A 73-year-old woman like me in Vogue? Hilarious,” was her verdict.
But it was her more substantial comments that I found cheering. In a climate in which ticking the right “diversity” box counts as much – or more – than merit, it was heartening to hear that her sense of professional duty is not primarily to her gender, but her work. Becoming top dog of the courts was “not what I set out in life to be – but it’s where I happen to be,” she said, adding she felt she needed to set a good
example by “doing a good job” full stop, regardless of gender.
Lady Hale is one of three female Supreme Court justices, along with Lady Arden and Lady Black. This, she said, is a good thing – not so the female trio can stick together and form a female front, espousing women’s views (as if there were any such thing), but so that they show the opposite: that women don’t all think the same, just as all men don’t.
“One of the reasons that it’s very good is that we are each very different from one another, just as the men are different from one another,” she told Vogue. “If it’s only you, people tend to think, well that’s the woman’s perspective, that’s how women think, and, of course, we women don’t all think alike.”
In other words, gender is a blunt instrument for lumping people together, and – like all identity groupings – fails to account for the truly important form of diversity: the ideological kind. Hearing this from a woman of 73, at the top of her game? Far more interesting (and inspiring!) to me than the usual PC stuff about the virtues of female role models.
Inspiration: Baroness Hale