[Content Note: Threats to the President's safety.]

Following reports of several severe security lapses, Julia Pierson, Director of the US Secret Service, has resigned.
Pierson stepped down just 18 months after President Barack Obama selected her to take over a law enforcement agency that already had been tarnished by misconduct by agents.

"I think it's in the best interest of the Secret Service and the American public if I step down," Pierson said in an interview with Bloomberg News after her resignation was announced by the Department of Homeland Security. "Congress has lost confidence in my ability to run the agency. The media has made it clear that this is what they expected."
"Tarnished by misconduct of agents" is a polite way of putting it. Pierson came aboard amid a series of scandals, that included racism, sexism, allegations of sexual harassment, and dereliction of duty.

Pierson was the first woman to serve as director of the Secret Service, and she was essentially set up to fail: Brought in to be a female face for an agency getting a notorious reputation for being a boys-will-be-boys' club, but not given the resources to actually implement meaningful changes.
Reasonable people can disagree about whether, ultimately, she deserved to lose her job or whether anyone in charge during such an incident would have to resign. But it's probably not pure chance that Pierson, who held that position for just a year-and-a-half, was a woman. Time and again, women are put in charge only when there's a mess, and if they can't engineer a quick cleanup, they're shoved out the door. The academics Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam even coined a term for this phenomenon: They call it getting pushed over the glass cliff.

Pierson was, in fact, explicitly brought in to clean up a mess. When President Obama nominated her last year, it was on the heels of news that Secret Service employees hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia ahead of the president's arrival. Pierson was meant to be a breath of fresh feminine air to clear out the macho cobwebs still dogging the agency...

That wasn't the only thing hobbling the agency before Pierson's arrival, though. It has been perpetually underfunded and understaffed. In his book on the secret service, Ronald Kessler describes how agents are stretched so thin that the agency grapples with high turnover. ...This is the first year since 2010 that the agency isn't operating with a budget below what it requested [from Congress]. And since that year, personnel levels have seen a severe decline.

...As with Pierson, women are often put in these positions because rough patches make people think they need to shake things up and try something new – like putting a woman in charge. When it's smooth sailing, on the other hand, men get to maintain control of the steering wheel. Women are also thought to have qualities associated with cleaning up messes.
Women are the cleaning crew. And they fail to magically clean up a mess while not being given any cleaning products, well, that just goes to show you how women aren't up to the task.

This sort of misogyny has repercussions bigger than individual insult, of course: Pierson will take the fall, the grave breaches chalked up to her incompetency (her womanhood), and the real, profound, comprehensive reasons for these failures will go unaddressed.

Or, perhaps, Congress will actually listen to her male successor, when he says he needs better resources to make the necessary changes.

And then he will get plaudits for his industrious leadership and refreshing competency, all for the "skill" of having a voice to which people were willing to listen.

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