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Caitriona Perry and Keelin Shanley didn't get their new jobs because of 'political correctness'

“Anyone who believes they got the gig because they are women is failing to take into account the fact that they have three decades of experience between them.”

keelinandcaitriona Source: RTÉ

YESTERDAY, RTÉ ANNOUNCED that Keelin Shanley and Caitriona Perry will front the Six One from January 2018, replacing Bryan Dobson and Sharon Ní Bheoláin. It marks the first time that the state broadcaster’s flagship news bulletin will be helmed by two women.

The news of their appointment was warmly welcomed. And why not? They’re two of the most eminently qualified broadcast journalists in the country.

Sadly, and perhaps predictably, the news was also met with cries of, “What would the PC brigade say if two men were appointed?” and “Is this what gender balance looks like?” Men who have grown up accustomed to seeing themselves reflected in media were horrified that not one, but two women would be hosting their beloved Six One.

They attempted to rationalise the appointment by speculating that it was the product of either political correctness gone mad or gender quotas, apparently unable to conceive of a reality in which women can get a job on merit.

Shanley and Perry themselves preempted some of this chatter by stating that they didn’t believe they got the jobs because of their gender. “I don’t think we got it because we’re women,” Shanley told reporters yesterday.

Anyone who believes they got the gig because they are women is failing to take into account the fact that Keelin Shanley and Caitriona Perry have three decades of experience between them.

Keelin Shanley spent ten years working as a reporter on Prime Time before moving on to host Morning Edition, Crimecall and The Consumer Show. She has also served as a radio broadcaster, regularly filling in on Morning Ireland, Today with Sean O’Rourke, News At One and The Late Debate.

Caitriona Perry, meanwhile, spent four years working as RTÉ’s Washington Correspondent, a job that required her to be on call for seemingly 24 hours a day as she covered everything from the rise of Trump to the Berkeley tragedy. She was essentially a one-woman newsroom covering an entire country.

But they only got it because they’re women, right?

I saw many men speculate that Shanley and Perry benefited from some sort of make-believe gender quota. Men regularly peddle these theories to reassure themselves that they are still somehow superior to women. If a woman is a beneficiary of a quota, she’s seen as having edged ahead of a more deserving man. (Because a man is always more deserving, right?) Should she succeed on merit alone, her promotion is viewed as an example of tokenism. (Again, there’s just no way a woman could be more suitable for a job than a man.) No matter the scenario, there’s a story for these men to tell themselves.

It’s frustrating that women still have to go to great lengths to prove that they’re qualified for a job, lest anyone think they were hired out of pity or to fulfill a quota. Women shouldn’t have to go around reciting their CVs to demonstrate that they deserved a promotion nor should those seeds of doubt be sown in the first place.

In the case of Shanley and Perry, the reasons for their promotions are abundantly clear: they’re talented, rigorous journalists with bucketloads of experience, drive and creativity. No shadowy conspiracies, no aggrieved men. Just two women succeeding through hard work and dedication.

So instead of viewing them as “token women” or bombarding them with questions about what, if anything, their gender had to do with their promotions, let’s just let them do what they do best: their jobs.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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