The parallels between Sotomayor and her era of new appointees is striking. I had a post ready to go on Sotomayor earlier and didn't run it because it was boring. However:
The Supreme Court's reversal yesterday of a decision endorsed by Sonia Sotomayor as a federal appeals judge provided fresh ammunition for her conservative critics two weeks before her Senate confirmation hearing, but also allowed defenders to cast her as a judge who respects precedent.
She'll be nominated of course because this is the Era of Wrong Appointments - witness Gordon Brown and David Cameron. Precisely the wrong 'new women', talentless in leadership but with a lot of lip, are also getting appointed under 'positive discrimination' - people like Flint in the UK, Lynch in Canada and Sotomayor in the States.
It's Fiorina and Dunn all over again - a lot of mouth, really good at sacking people and appearing efficient to adoring hangers-on but appointed above their station.
Monica Conyers was in a different role but the story is the same. No matter what anyone says, gender is a factor here. There is a particular type of woman whose efforts to Force those around her to bend to her will and the way she flies off the handle when she doesn't get her own way, like a spoilt child, is going to make powerful enemies, particularly among male colleagues. This is not the way to go in an environment which doesn't fully accept you in the first place anyway and is looking for you to fall.
This was how Sarkozy cut the Segie magnetism in that debate - by provoking her to anger. Veronique Morali, of Force Femmes, is another who should not be let near a boardroom for her obvious bias. If there was her and another woman beside her of equal accomplishments but without the chip on the shoulder about her gender, then you'd appoint the other, on the grounds that she could give 100% to the company.
I'm not going to balance this to avoid being called sexist, by listing a lot of unsuitable men. There are so many. Take your pick of males who should never have been appointed, from Goodwin to Brown himself. They infest the public world, these non-comps but there IS a type of woman too, such as I've described and she should never be let near the reins of power. Merkel is one such person. Remember, a high flyer is just that - a high flyer and into high flying. A high flying woman complicates the issue by bringing gender into it.
The right person to put in is someone with a deep understanding of structure and process, with no real chip on the shoulder and not having to prove him or herself. I can think of two women straight away who are of a type and of a temperament which lends itself to running organizations. One runs a department at a university in Russia and another runs a blog group here. I tell you, honestly, that I would follow where these women led although they're cunning enough to make me think I'm doing the leading. [I also know of another woman running a different association who shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near the reins but that's another matter.]
They are into consensus, politeness and warmth but insist on reasonable targets being met and have the ruthlessness to cut the dead wood away, albeit with tact.
I know men like that too but one thing for sure - these Sotomayors, Conyers and Lynches are most certainly NOT the ones who should be there. What should be done with them? Well, HP did it wrongly, in that you do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If they refuse to stay on in an advisory capacity, then access their expertise professionally and pay for it that way. They do have great skills. Running organizations is not one of them, that's all.