Linda Hirshman / George Washington University
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.