Usually being the first woman to hold a prominent position is regarded as newsworthy.
Not so with the appointment of Dame Susan Devoy as the Race Relations Commissioner.
Instead, the huffing and puffing about her suitability, or not, for the role has got the headlines and her gender received hardly a mention.
If it meant that there are sufficient women in prominent positions that another one isn’t regarded as unusual that is a positive sign of evolution.
However, I suspect the lack of interest in Dame Susan being the first woman is because her perceived politics matter more to to those to whom these things matter than her gender.
Helen Clark often gets more acknowledgement for being New Zealand’s first elected female Prime Minister than Dame Jenny Shipley does for being the first woman to hold that office and Ruth Richardson rarely gets noted for being the first woman to be Minister of Finance.
To some being the first woman in a role isn’t regarded as noteworthy if you’re not also likely to be a darling of the left.
A pleasant exception to the huffing and puffing is this media release from the New Zealand Maori Council:
“We are pleased to welcome Dame Susan as Race Relations Commissioner, and look forward to a close and meaningful relationship,” stated Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie, co-chair of the New Zealand Maori Council. “The office of Race Relations Commissioner, formerly known as Conciliator, has a proud history of advocating on behalf of Maori and we are sure that Dame Susan will continue that tradition.” . . .
Maanu Paul, co-chair of the New Zealand Maori Council . . . said that Dame Susan had a proud history to live up to, as previous Race Relations Commissioners had striven to expose racism and set a better course for our nation. “We have watched her on the squash courts, on the road raising awareness and money to help people with muscular dystrophy and in company board rooms. She was unbeatable there, and we hope she will continue to inspire us into the future.”
My recollection of news about the Race relations Commissioner in recent times is that it has largely been negative.
Someone coming from another direction might well be able to change that and she should at least be given the chance to prove herself.