Tonight I was at a gathering that included a former student of mine, currently an Air Force Academy cadet.
He told me that he had applied for, and had earned, a position as Squadron Commander for next year. It's a very responsible, prestigious, honored assignment at the Academy, as there are only 40 squadrons. He was chosen, his name put on next year's list of commanders, and the list "sent up".
He also told me that the list of squadron commanders for next year contained 35 or 36 white males, and that to make the list more "diverse" he had been removed from the list and replaced by a woman--who hadn't even applied for the position. He'll take his position as Squadron Operations Officer, a 2nd in command.
He wasn't denied this position because of anything he did. He was denied it solely based on his sex. He was denied it not based on what he's done, but on who he is.
He was told all of this by a racial/gender-minority lieutenant colonel, who also told him that one of the air force high mucky-mucks had said that diversity is good for leadership. You know what else is good for leadership? Having leaders who demonstrate leadership.
There is a cost to these equal opportunity/affirmative action programs--and sadly, this young man seems to be bearing much more than his share of that cost.