THANK goodness for Stuart Waiton’s common sense article in today’s paper (" Is it OK to discriminate against straight white men?", The Herald, February 11), which reflects exactly my thoughts during all the discussion and publicity around gender balance and the like.

What he refers to as “affirmative action” is exactly the same as “positive discrimination”, terms meant to sound as if they are praiseworthy methods of addressing the problem of discrimination. In reality, both describe a form of discrimination, just a different one hidden by phraseology. If one group, be it women, men, a nationality, ethnic group or whatever, is left out of consideration, however well-intended the reason, it is still discrimination. I cannot see how discrimination of one sort can be defeated by another sort of discrimination.

The drive for “gender balance” is a prime example. When an interview list, for example, deliberately focuses on ensuring that most or even all are women, men are discriminated against. Other relevant factors are disregarded. Are there the same number of men and women showing interest? Are the men and women equally qualified? Do they have equal experience, and were they equally successful? Do they all show the personality/character that will fit with the team they will join? Do any have a special aptitude? These ought surely to be determining factors in the choice, not whether they are men or women. If all relevant criteria are taken into account, there will indeed be occasions when there is an all-women list, or conversely an all-men one without manipulation.

To aim for gender balance, to my mind, ignores an elephant in the room. There are still many women who, given the chance of a promotion, will still refuse it because their family, not their career, is their top priority. The current drive for balance makes some women actually feel guilty for making this choice. Do the same number of men have this priority? Even if gender balance is achieved by these artificial means, how is that to be maintained if a number resign? By another discriminatory election, ending perhaps with the right balance but wrong suitability?

No, the end does not justify the means. Discrimination cannot be ended by a process of discrimination. Well done, Mr Waiton, for taking on this subject. If ever I am presented with a vote on an artificially balanced candidate list, for the first time in my long life I will not vote.

(Ms) L McGregor, Falkirk.