Thursday, July 22, 2010

What is Fair?

"Treating everyone the same is not fair. Each member of your team should get what they earn and deserve." - Coach John Wooden
A friend of mine posted this brilliant quote. It caused a bit of a discussion between me and an amazing women who I respect and admire immensely, and got me to thinking about fairness vs. equality.

Equality's definition is the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability.  Fairness is defined as free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice.

Here's how I think it works. If I am equal to another person in a certain scenario then I expect to be treated equally. If I am better or worse than another person in a certain scenario then my treatment should correspond to that. THAT is fair.

Every year in junior high and high school I tried out for cheerleading. Tryouts consisted of learning some sort of cheer and dance routine throughout the week that culminated with a judged performance on Friday. I practiced year round, but especially leading up to tryouts. My mom still has video tapes of me recording myself to see how I looked and where I could improve. I practiced with friends and at clinics and at a cheer gym. I was pretty good, but it was because I worked at it. One year in junior high, as they were announcing who made the squad we were told that EVERYONE made it.

I was devastated. All of my hard work didn't matter because people who just signed up without practicing made it too. All of my hard work didn't matter because no matter how much we practiced as a squad there were still going to be people that weren't good enough. All of my hard work didn't matter because we were only going to be as good as our least competent squad member and that, frankly, was not good enough for me. That was a lesson for me in equality and fairness. Someone truly thought they were treating us equally and that was fair, when in fact treating us equally was grossly unfair and demotivating. For everyone.

Equality is important, I do not want to diminish that in any way. I fully expect to be paid as much as my male counterparts if I am equal in experience and competence, I expect to pay the same as other people for equal goods or services, etc. But don't treat everyone the same and call it fairness, because in many cases it is not. Thank you Coach...

...QueenB Says

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