Even if women face a slight penalty at the ballot box (a claim social scientists still argue about), that doesn’t answer the question of what voters should do with that information. If it is unethical to vote against a person purely because of her sex, is it any better to vote that way because other people are sexist? The problem quickly becomes self-fulfilling, especially when commentators amplify the concern.
The Civil Rights Act prohibits superficially neutral practices with a disparate impact on women. Because of the deep sexual divide of the workplace, banning all closed-door meetings would have a disproportionate effect on female workers. Just think of the many two-person offices: Who would bear the burden if that rule applied to medical service providers employing dentists and hygienists, lawyers and assistants? Fortune 500 boards of directors are 90 percent male. Only 5 percent of CEOs are female, and women constitute just 15 percent of top-five executive jobs. Board meetings and executive functions among the top-five executives give these men ample chance to meet informally.