I WAS very disappointed to read that Holyrood has passed legislation to ensure a 50/50 gender balance on boards (MSPs vote on equality legislation, The National, January 30). I know there has been extensive lobbying for this, but as I learned when I studied logic as part of my degree, one must always guard against false conclusions based on very persuasive premises. “Women make up 51 per cent of the population; most boards are made up of men; therefore women are under-represented and action is needed to equalise the situation” is just such.

Firstly, is there the same percentage of women as men in that sector? The same percentage with suitable skills and qualifications? Does the same percentage actually want to progress this far, or do some women want to rise only to the point where workplace ambitions balance personal desire or other commitments? Current attitudes put pressure on some women to advance their careers beyond their inclination because those who admit to not wanting advancement are criticised and made to feel they are “letting the side down”. I myself have been in that position, by opting not to apply for a promoted post which was available to me.

Besides, over time, this is likely to be a recipe for mediocrity. If a woman retiring must be replaced by a woman and a man by a man, that requirement will override merit and suitability, where a less suitable candidate must be chosen by gender. Where is the flexibility in a legally enforced balance of 50/50?

Unfortunately, I fear the present furore about the abuse of women, which indeed needs all the attention we can give, is also beginning to go overboard in its ramifications. We hear of girls being “objectified” by acting as assistants at ceremonies or employed to help promote cars etc. Has anyone stopped to consider that if these girls are stopped, men will replace them? Will we then hear the cry of discrimination because only men get to do such promotions? Why should these girls not choose these jobs? As long as the men involved do not abuse their power and position at such events, are the girls not simply using their talents to do something they enjoy while earning a living? What is wrong with women dressing up and making the most of their natural assets, as most do at some time and enjoy being admired for it, for a special occasion?

I am afraid that the fight for equality is morphing into a new form of discrimination, against those who make personal decisions and act in ways that the equality campaigners do not like. It is imposing conformity at the expense of diversity and personal choice. By all means let us call out unfair discrimination, abuse of power and criminal behaviour wherever it appears, but let us respect everyone’s differences of abilities, skills, experience, natural assets and most of all wishes and decisions, and stop trying to force us all into the same mould. “Equal” does not mean “same”.

P Davidson

LAST week Carillion, this week Capita, with pension funds taking a hit, as ever. Who’s next? Why has HM Government failed to ring-fence pension funds to keep them beyond the grasp of greedy speculators and asset-strippers? Have we learned nothing from (still “Sir”) Philip Green? Come to think of it, have we learned nothing from Robert Maxwell?

Time for some evidence of digital extraction from our Westminster rulers, perchance?

James Stevenson

WHILE agreeing that Scotland has to raise revenue to support our beleaguered public services, it seems that we are always concentrating on personal taxation and ignore the role of corporate tax in our income. Our largest corporates can afford to spend money on tax accountants to interpret the more than 11,000 pages of our tax code.

Since 2000/1 corporation tax has reduced, as a percentage of total tax income, by around 22 per cent and as a percentage of GDP, the indicator of our national wealth, from 3.5 per cent to 2.3 per cent. During the same period, income tax, capital gains tax and business rates all remained relatively static (figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies).

The corporate sector, which also benefits from a healthy, well-educated workforce, should also bear the burden of the greater need for effective services.

Peter Rowberry