Claire Lehmann and Debra Soh dismantle John Horgan’s indictment of sexism in science

The mandatory disclaimer first: I’m not claiming that science is free of sexism. No area in which men labor is, since there are always some sexist men. I would argue, though, that we’re doing our best to free the discipline of sexism (most hiring committees, for example,  have a keen look-out for women candidates, and there are a number of initiatives, scholarships, and the like which are solely directed at women.  I’d also argue that I detect no clear institutionalized sexism in science: that is, I see no rules, guidelines, or institutionalized practices that lead to discrimination against women. But there’s always room for improvement.

But I’d rather listen to a woman than a man about these issues, since women are on the receiving end of any discrimination. Especially when the man who chooses to lecture us about our sins is writer John Horgan, a contrarian who writes a blog for Scientific American. Horgan’s recent column “Darwin was sexist, and so are many modern scientists,” sounded strange to me, for although he cited one study I knew of showing that both men and women discriminate against c.v.’s bearing women’s names, Horgan’s additional argument that science is sexist because Darwin and Galton were, and we still bear that legacy, is an argument that rang false. Virtually all men in that era were sexists judged by modern lights, and so you could indict any area of endeavor as sexist.

Further, Horgan cited Geoffrey Miller, an outlier evolutionary psychologist, as evidence for sexism for writing “Men write more books. Men give more lectures. Men ask more questions after lectures. Men dominate mixed-sex committee discussions,” arguing that Miller claims these traits reflect biological differences. Well, they could reflect biological preferences (differential outcomes don’t by themselves indict sexism unless they occur in the face of equal opportunities), and anyway, one guy’s opinion is not that of the whole field, even though Horgan unfairly indicts the entire field of evolutionary psychology as “subtly denigrat[ing] females’ capacity to reason. That’s simply wrong.

Horgan further dismisses the well known pickiness of women and promiscuousness of men in choosing mates, saying that that could be societal, despite the fact that such differences are seen in virtually all animal species, including our closest relatives (the metric is “variance in reproductive success”).

Finally, Horgan cites the infamous memorandum of fired Google engineer Jame Damore, saying that the memo “cherry-picks studies that supposedly prove male intellectual superiority”.

Horgan’s piece has, however, has been dismantled by two women, Claire Lehmann (editor of Quillette) and Debra W. Soh, a writer with a Ph.D. in neuroscience from York University “with a specialization in sexology”. I’ve never seen a rebuttal to a blog post in Scientific American, but this one—”A different take on sexism in science” (subtitle “The fear that research into sex differences give fuel to those who claim that women are naturally ‘inferior’ to men is misguided”)—appears to severely damage Horgan’s assertions, or at least the data he uses to back them up.

Lehmann and Soh’s counterclaims:

1.) They agree that there is some sexism in science, but it’s much less than in service-sector and low-wage jobs, and, more important, “it is premature to claim that sexual harassment has caused the uneven gender ration in STEM. There is no clear evidence demonstrating a causal link between the two.”

2.) Horgan distorts Miller’s “evo-psych” claims, as Miller claimed that the differences cited above were probably due not to biology but to culture.

3.) Lehmann and Soh note that it’s entirely possible that the differences between men’s and women’s personalities and preferences, some of which are well documented, could explain a sex-ratio disparity at Google, and then add that, contra Horgan, Damore does not claim in his memo that men are intellectually superior to women. I read that memo a while back, but my recollection agrees with Lehmann and Soh.

4.) Horgan himself has cherry picked that single study of c.v.s showing discrimination against women, neglecting a more recent study that says this:

. . . Horgan should have mentioned the 67-page review published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest in 2014 called “Women in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape,” by Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams. This review compiled data from several hundred analyses of women’s participation in sciences—from the life sciences such as psychology—to the more math-intensive disciplines such as engineering and physics.

They found that the biggest barrier for women in STEM jobs was not sexism but their desire to form families. Overall, Ceci and Williams found that STEM careers were characterised by “gender fairness, rather than gender bias.” And, they stated, women across the sciences were more likely to receive hiring offers than men, their grants and articles were accepted at the same rate, they were cited at the same rate, and they were tenured and promoted at the same rate.

A year later, Ceci and Williams published the results of five national hiring experiments in which they sent hypothetical female and male applicants to STEM faculty members. They found that men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males.

I haven’t read that study, but you have the link and can judge for yourself, just as you can judge the two sparring articles at hand.

Finally, Lehmann and Soh appear to indict Horgan for white-knighting, and point out, as many have before, that differences between groups, be these differences cultural or genetic, should not mandate differential group treatment or any kind of unequal moral or political treatment:

In an attempt to “protect” women in science from sexist scientists, Horgan commits the sin he accuses others of. He ignores the work of female scientists whose work has challenged popular narratives of sexism in STEM, and he avoids dealing with the female writers and commentators who have publicly supported Damore.

Support for women in science should not be dependent on politics. Stratifying this support for women in favor of those who tout politically expeditious opinions—and castigating those who do not—counters the very idea that women are individuals who have self-determination and are capable of independent thought. There is also something oddly hypocritical about a man educating women on just how oppressed they are.

And finally, we want to stress that the fear that research into sex differences gives fuel to those who claim that women are naturally “inferior” to men is misguided. Difference is not “inferior” unless one thinks that what is male-typical is preferable and what is female-typical is somehow undesirable. We do not share this fear, because we do not view masculine typical traits as the gold standard and female typical traits less than.

Since Horgan’s piece was written just a month ago, and he’s a science journalist, there’s really no excuse for him to cherry-pick literature—unless, that is, he has an agenda that he needs to buttress. Confirmation bias doesn’t look good on a science journalist.

68 Comments

  1. yazikus
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    They agree that there is some sexism in science, but it’s much less than in service-sector and low-wage jobs,

    This is so true. Any tipping job, for example, is bound to be rife with some sort of sexism. I recently saw a poster outside a restaurant looking to hire ‘Waitresses, 18-22’. Not servers, but waitresses.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Which country was that? In the UK [where “servers” is mostly a computing term], I see “waiting staff”, “wait staff” or “waiters/waitresses”, but never solely “waitresses”. I have seen “waiter”, but I think maybe it’s like “actor” which is now a unisex designation.

      Specified age [as in 18-22] would be illegal here under the Equality Act 2010, although I know many employers here prefer very young workers to save on wages & employer-paid welfare contributions – and use ingenious methods to exclude over-21s…

      • yazikus
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        The US, mais oui. And perhaps they are running afoul of employment laws, but this was in a rural town. A handwritten sign posted at the door. Skeezy, at best.

      • Posted January 14, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        As any kitchen staff will tell you, the correct term for that other species is “waitrons”.

    • XCellKen
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Maybe this will make you slightly less upset, but I once read that female tipped employees make MORE $$$ than there male counterparts. My anecdotal evidence would confirm this finding

      • yazikus
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps, in some places. I would be willing to wager their asses are grabbed more often as well.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        My daughter once delivered pizza and said her tips were significantly more than those of her male counterparts. She told me this with a big greedy smile. 😎

      • Martin X
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        Probably any server will tell you that females get *larger* tips than males, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they make more in net. Male servers can be more productive because they aren’t expected to flirt with their customers the way females are. So, lower tips but more of them.

        • XCellKen
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

          I got by as a waiter and a bartender largely thru my ability to “flirt”

        • XCellKen
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          The report I read said they make more total. Not more per tip

        • XCellKen
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

          And you are also expected to get things off the top shelves that the 5′ 2″ women can’t reach, move the 168 lb kegs that the women can’t lift, etc. No tips for those jobs lol

      • nicky
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        Jay Porter has some interesting observations about tipping. The fact that femalesmake more is not necessarily something to get less upset about.
        http://jayporter.com/observations-from-a-tipless-restaurant-part-5-sex-power-tips/
        (Note, I doubt we had a polyandric past, even in extant hunter gatherer societies polyandry is excessively rare)

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

          I read the very interesting link nicky. Is it rare because matrilineal groups are rare? As per the pre-industrial contemporary sexual mores of parts of Tibet for example? Where a woman’s husbands are often brothers? To quote your link for context:

          …Sex at Dawn, a 2010 non-fiction bestseller by researchers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, details how human culture may have changed as we moved from being nomadic to agricultural. […] the authors make a compelling scientific case that, for most of our history, humans lived in polyandrous, matrilineal groups. By this, I mean the authors show that pre-agricultural women probably usually had sex with a lot of men. And that at least sometimes, salaciously enough, women had sex with a lot of men at more or less the same time, consecutively

          I have no opinion/knowledge on this – merely seeking your view.

          • nicky
            Posted January 14, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Polyandry occurs mainly on small islands or other isolated areas with small populations, where there is a ‘shortage’ of females (ie non-warring societies with low ‘culling’ of males).
            Mustang (the Tibet you mentioned) is an isolated valley, basically an island. And indeed, where polyandry occurs the husbands are generally brothers or otherwise closely related.
            Polygyny is much more common, it occurs in about 80% of hunter-gatherer societies, although often mainly for the ‘strong man’.
            I do not think that this ‘primordial’ fantasy about polyandric societies is necessary to bring Porter’s point home.

            • Posted January 15, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

              The Inuit were also sort of, sometimes, polyandrous (and polygynous at the same time). It gets very complicated (as _Sex at Dawn_ does point out) because there’s a technical term in anthropology, “marriage”, which doesn’t correspond to the use in ordinary language.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted January 15, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

                Intrigued by your comment – I’ve just looked for an anthropological definition of “marriage” & it sure has changed a lot! Here’s one from not so long ago really:

                “Marriage is a union between a man and a woman such that the children born to the woman are recognized as legitimate offspring of both partners”

                Royal Anthropological Institute, 1951 [I think]

                Can you link to a modern definition?

              • Posted January 16, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

                I don’t know of any resources online, off hand. If one uses *that* characterization, all places that do not talk in terms of “legitimacy” do not have marriage at all, contrary to the usual intention.

  2. Michael Barton
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes our beliefs blind us.

    Sexism is the unequal treatment of individuals based on their sex.

    “(most hiring committees, for example, have a keen look-out for women candidates, and there are a number of initiatives, scholarships, and the like which are solely directed at women”

    • Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      I don’t consider affirmative action to be the same thing as sexism or bigotry. You might, but so be it.

      • Craw
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Can women be sexist?

        • Travis
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          This statement seems to suggest they can’t

          “I’m not claiming that science is free of sexism. No area in which men labor is, since there are always some sexist men. ”

          Why not “no area where humans work”?

        • Travis
          Posted January 14, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          I guess you (and others) aren’t going to get an answer to this. Sad

          • nicky
            Posted January 14, 2018 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            Well, the answer is ‘yes’, of course. One only needs to read a few feminist tracts by second or third wave feminists to conclude that with evidence.

        • Posted January 15, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          Yes. Sandra Harding I think is a good example.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like Horgan is the wrong person doing the wrong job. In other words, if you are a male attempting to push the idea in any field that women are getting equal treatment you better know damn well what you are doing. Equality for women in America is not here any more than it is for African Americans or any other minority. When you see as many women in congress as men or as many women CEOs or women in the board rooms, then maybe you can begin to do your study on equality. Until you see these things, you are whistling in the wind. Oh, you might also want to approach equal pay.

    • Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Here you’re equating equal opportunity (which all of us favor) with equal outcomes, and saying there is sexism one way or the other if there isn’t a 50:50 gender ratio in any profession. But that isn’t true, and you know it, so long as there are different preferences. Watch the Pinker video linked to above.

      Is the deficit of male pediatricians due to sexism against males?

      • yazikus
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Is the deficit of male pediatricians due to sexism against males?

        I do wonder what impact gender stereotypes have on the lack of men in some traditionally female professions. When kiddo was in preschool/daycare, there was but one male teacher in those couple of years (shoutout to Teacher Brandon- you were great!). He had a way with some of those kids, they just responded to him differently. Whether it is men purposely forgoing what might be lower paid professions, or whether people are inherently less trusting of men in professions dealing primarily with children, I suspect there is something afoot.

        • Trevor H
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          Equality can mean different things ‘equality of opportunity’ in which everyone gets the same chance and ‘equality of outcome’ – effectively ‘quotas’

          I am in favour of ‘opportunity’ not ‘outcome’.

          As has been pointed out some professions are loaded to one sex or the other because of preferences/abilities of the two sexes – the battle also seems to be over ‘nice jobs’ – no one fights for a 50:50 split for binmen…

          Some unpleasant jobs are refused by women, so they can’t cry foul when rewards are handed out

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

            The reality is most men are physically stronger than women. Women aren’t refusing to be binmen because it’s unpleasant, but because they’re less likely to be physically capable of the job.

            You try nursing for unpleasantness. Bed pans, soiled beds, infected wounds, drunk, violent, smelly patients etc.

            And frankly I’m sick of men who use women’s “failure” to do such jobs as binman as a reason to justify their sexism.

            There aren’t many men in caregiving jobs either. Those are very poorly paid because they are seen as women’s work. Also because of that, many men don’t do them because they have traditionally been looked down on, especially by men like you.

            My home help of the last 18 months is a man, and he’s excellent. There are more men who would like to do such work, and it’s becoming more socially acceptable for them to do it. Also in NZ, they now have pay equity with similar jobs that aren’t traditionally done by women, which makes them more attractive.

            • Trevor H
              Posted January 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

              I wasn’t comparing binmen with nurses , merely observing that the cry for ‘equality’ doesn’t exist in some jobs as women do not want to do them

              It’s hypocritical to want equality in jobs that are seen as desirable, but say nothing about other ‘unwanted’ jobs thus leaving them

              This is to say nothing about only doing the pleasant parts of a job and leaving the rest to others

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

                You’re moving the goalposts now. And it’s about equality of opportunity when it comes to jobs. Women want the same opportunity as men when it’s obvious we’re just as capable of a job as men. If a woman wants to be a binman and is equally capable of doing the job, she should be able to do it. The reason women don’t apply for the job of binman is not because it’s dirty, it’s because very few women can do that sort of work as well as men.

                Women do dirty, unpleasant work all the time. What do you think a life cleaning up after men and kids is like? Or is five minutes of sex supposed to make us grateful for the privilege of getting your beer?

              • Travis
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

                Also fields paying less than we personally value them (nurses) isn’t evidence that it pays less “because it’s seen as women’s work”.
                It could be multiple things, but frankly personal value /= economic value. One could argue that women care less about earning money so they will take a job for less pay and thus the entire industry of mostly women can get away with lower wages since women aren’t arguing for higher wages as much as men do in other areas.

                See, you can pretty much spin it as completely sexist or non-sexist just be changing the framework a tiny bit.

              • Harrison
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

                The push for equal outcomes but only in high-paying, high-prestige jobs and never mind the binmen, is a form of left-leaning Trickle Down Economics. If we take the most privileged women and people of color already in or near the top echelon of society and shower them with more advantages, this will somehow be a boon to all women and all people of color.

                I’ve personally always had a preference for helping the disadvantaged by raising the floor, probably because historically it works and Trickle Down doesn’t.

              • Harrison
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

                @Travis
                “One could argue that women care less about earning money so they will take a job for less pay and thus the entire industry of mostly women can get away with lower wages since women aren’t arguing for higher wages as much as men do in other areas.”

                There’s actually an example of something like this in the male-dominated field of airline pilots, who work long hours and study for years to start out earning as much as a teenager with a summer job at Taco Bell. People have suggested that the reason for this might be that people who look into flying as a career love the idea so much they tolerate low pay and poor treatment. Were they talking about women in this way, they’d undoubtedly be accused of victim-blaming.

              • Travis
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

                @Harrison,

                Well men overwhelmingly make up the floor when it comes to things like unemployment, homelessness, prison… so it’s harder to garner sympathy for these things I think.

                Men make up the ceiling and the floor, but no one talks about the “glass cellar”

            • XCellKen
              Posted January 13, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

              I once knew a female garbage collector, for what its worth

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted January 14, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

                I’ve come across one too. She was bigger and stronger than most men. She didn’t stay in the job long because she was sexually harassed by her colleagues. She became a truck driver instead, which is becoming much more common for women these days but wasn’t then (25 years ago).

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 15, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

              Well said, Heather. My dad worked in a fabrication factory for almost 20 years. He worked with lots of women who did dirty jobs. He saw them paid less than the men until their union changed all that. The women were expected and did the job just as well as their male counterparts. They weren’t quitting the factory job to work in a job that was less dirty; they wanted those jobs.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 15, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          I agree it could be cultural why men don’t take those jobs. The thing is we don’t know. There has to be study to deal with these confounding variables. I can tell you that we live in a society that says men shouldn’t have or express feelings, are incapable of child rearing and are sissies if they go into work involving caring for others. This is changing but I can’t help but think these attitudes, that have existed for decades, have something to do with career choices.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 15, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            An example of this maybe, is a care home for the elderly near me – 60 residents [approx 70%/30% female/male split] with a fair amount of autonomy, but in need of assistance for bathing & dressing. I know the manager & she says it’s difficult to take on male ‘care assistants’ because many of the women residents [average DOB around 1932-ish] are highly resistant to the idea. And yet I suspect the same sample would prefer a male doctor [more authoritative in their eyes] 🙂

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 15, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

              Also massage therapists. I never care if I have a male or female massage me but there aren’t many males anyway and that’s because most women don’t want a male massage therapist and it seems that it’s mostly women getting massages. I always feel bad for the poor male massage therapist.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        First, I did not say you had to have 50/50 ratio in every field. Also your pediatrics example is a good one because it comes closer to equality in numbers than almost any other specialty in medicine and I would say preference has a lot to do with that. Men outnumber women still, in almost all other specialties in medicine. Many women having babies ask for female OBs. Pediatrics also allows for more part time work and women prefer this. Cardio Vascular ratio is 90% men to 10% women. Is there sexism here…I don’t know.

        My conversation is a more general one and not dissection of specific fields. Certainly there is preference. Not too many women want to load trucks in a warehouse and not many men want to clean your house. I hope I am not being too sexist.

        • Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          I’d check the data before asserting that pediatrics comes closer to sex equality than any other medical profession. These figures are from the AMA:

          Based on key findings, women make up a larger percentage of residents in:

          Family medicine (about 58 percent)
          Psychiatry (about 57 percent)
          Pediatrics (about 75 percent)
          Obstetrics/gynecology (about 85 percent)

          The data show male residents prefer to specialize in:

          Surgery (about 59 percent)
          Emergency medicine (about 62 percent)
          Anesthesiology (about 63 percent)
          Radiology (about 73 percent)
          Internal medicine (about 54 percent)

          Reference: https://wire.ama-assn.org/education/how-medical-specialties-vary-gender

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted January 13, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

            And your figures are based on residency, that is new doctors. I had been looking at numbers of total Doctors in all fields, young and old. We can split hairs and that is fine. In 1970 the number of females in medicine was 9.7%. In 2010 it was 32.4 percent. So things are getting much better in this career area. I said before, I do not want to dissect every field and every job. And by the way. Even with the 2010 numbers they say that the females are still paid much less than the male doctors. I would want to know why?

            • mikeyc
              Posted January 13, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

              Why the pay difference (if there is one)?

              One reason comes to mind; different medical disciplines have different pay scales.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

                Well, the only thing I could tell you is, in the internet article giving the percentages of female to male doctors it stated, the females were still getting much less pay. That would compare with the reality in lots of like jobs today. The women get paid less in general for the same jobs. They just gave some figures on actors (Hollywood). There were something like 15 male actors last year that made more than the highest paid female. But what would some people say — oh, you can’t compare that. No sexism there??

              • Harrison
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

                I don’t know why anyone would think there’s any value in looking at the incredibly unrepresentative pay scales of millionaire Hollywood actors and conclude this has any bearing on white collar professional workers.

                You’re literally putting a magnifying glass to the very tail end of the bell curve of actor payscales when median pay for actors is around $70k a year.

              • Harrison
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

                Actually, I misspoke. $70k would be an average. Which means with the handful of ultra-successful millionaires dragging that number upward the median would be far lower.

              • mikeyc
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

                @Randall
                Cardiologists, mostly male, on average earn more twice than that of pediatricians, mostly female. The speciality a doctor pursues has a large impact on their income. Since there are preferential differences between men and women in which medical discipline they pursue, I would expect there to be differences in average salaries.

                Now it may well be true that within disciplines, physicians of similar experience earn different salaries because of their sex, but I could find no data on it.

                See https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/compensation-2017-overview-6008547

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

                All of you can believe whatever you want. The simple stats that anyone can look up on the net says – The average pay/wages for women is 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. And Mike, how many times must I say, I do not care to dissect specific jobs. Saying that a specific specialist makes this much and another makes that much is not saying anything. Get the actual wages for a female verses a male in the same specialty. I am not an idiot.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted January 13, 2018 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

                Amen! Give yourself a well deserved platinum star.

    • Posted January 14, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      What if most women don’t want to be in Congress or the board room?

      FYI, women already receive equal pay for equal work.

  4. Trevor H
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    It always bothers me when negative discrimination is replaced by positive discrimination

    Being a victim of either isn’t nice

    I eventually had to leave after being passed over for lesser qualified and able female candidates repeatedly

    The manager admitted there was an agenda, and whatever I did wouldn’t help

    I think it stinks

    • yazikus
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Not at all doubting your experience, but out of curiosity, how did you know the other candidates (and did they tell you about the other male candidates as well?) were less qualified and less able? If the manager was indeed discriminating based on sex (yours) and told you, you would have a good case to take up against the company, would you not?

      • Trevor H
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I had got the highest bonus available, and none of the others had – so it is an objective fact. Others had also said to me ‘do you eat babies or what?’

        The union supported the positive discrimination, so without support it was pointless

  5. fjordaniv
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Laura Parson and C Casey Ozaki would have benefitted from reading the Ceci and Williams before arguing that “masculine” ideals were responsible for women’s discomfort in STEM environments.

    This is the abstract of their study:

    “Using the framework of feminist standpoint theory, this study explored the everyday work of undergraduate STEM students to identify STEM institutional cultural norms and standards that organize and inform the organization of everyday work for undergraduate women majoring in math and physics. Data collection and analysis focused on how the interface between undergraduate women and STEM education was organized as a matter of everyday encounters between students, faculty, and administration through their experiences inside and outside the classroom. Undergraduate participants reported challenges meeting some of the characteristics of successful math and physics students (e.g., taking risks, asking questions, putting school first) and preferred a collectivistic environment. These characteristics are evidence of a masculine STEM institution, which also creates a masculine ideal that women students are expected to meet and exacerbates their discomfort in the STEM environment.”

    Source: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19407882.2017.1392323

  6. Johan Richter
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    “No area in which men labor is, since there are always some sexist men.”

    I presume you are using “men” here in the old non-PC meaning of the word as synonym to human, because I see no reason to think women are less sexist than men.

  7. Posted January 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Quaerere Propter Vērum.

  8. Max Blancke
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    In both my military and civilian life, one constant has been that there has been aggressive recruiting of female candidates. The underlying logic seems to be that any organization where the demographics do not closely match that of the general population must be engaged in active discrimination.
    Once we have established that nobody is being discriminated against, it seems pointless to expend the resources it would take to achieve gender parity.
    In the military, we run into the limitations of physical reality. A recruit who cannot throw a fragmentation grenade beyond the radius which will produce casualties is someone who should not be throwing grenades.
    On the civilian side, I operate in an industry where we are away from home for months at a time, and often in terrible places. You are sitting at home with the family, the phone unexpectedly rings, and the next day you say goodbye at the airport. This is stressful and unpleasant for men with families, and none of the women I work with have chosen to have kids. So the subsets of viable female candidates who want to do the job is very small.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Women in the military Max: Do you have any positives to relate regarding women being involved on the front line? Do you not know how to celebrate the brilliance of diversity in a combat unit? One of the finest allied troops in WWII were the Canadians [yes, all male] due to being so supremely well fed [farms], their sense of fairness, unit cohesion [brotherhood] & their varied experiences in civilian life – in a squad there’s always a few who’ve hunted from “knee high”, driven tractors, blown up a tree stump, ridden a horse, laid snares, skinned a rabbit, can cook up a meal from unpromising items in the field, detect camouflage in bocage country, speak French & so on. Is there not a case for further expanding the diversity to include women? Even raving queers?

      Which is worse – women or queers?

      Women served very honourably in WWII with the “Night Witches” [the Nazi name for them] – the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, known later as the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, of the Soviet Air Forces.

      Then there’s the remarkable WWII Soviet tank driver Mariya Oktyabrskaya

      We know that women UN Peacekeepers have served well in Islamic nations – a decided benefit in certain circumstances. Modern war for the poor bloody infantry these days is usually in a Policing or Peacekeeping framework – MORE WOMEN NEEDED!

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        And queers of course, but they’re already embedded in large numbers, mostly in silent mode.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

          Both of you are doing a supreme job in the bigot and prejudice field. You should be very proud of yourselves. Donald Trump is always looking for new recruits — you should sign right up.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 13, 2018 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

            That’s right Randy – a transatlantic humour failure – maybe. Queer is the en vogue term these days, but if your objection is otherwise, you’d better state your reasoning in clear terms. Something with substance. Can you do that?

          • Posted January 14, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

            Please, Randy; this is the kind of name-calling of readers that I want to avoid. It’s sufficient to make your argument, and no need to say stuff like this.

          • Max Blancke
            Posted January 14, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

            It sort of illustrates the point of the article. When someone attempts rational and impartial analysis of sex differences and their affect on job preference or ability, a vocal subset of the population will immediately make accusations of bigotry and hatred.
            Beyond the data being hateful in itself, there is a huge push to not publish data which might encourage people with extremist views.
            Of course the facts remain what they are, whether we wish them to be true or not. The end result is that there are quite a few subjects that everyone knows about, but of which we must not speak or acknowledge.
            My son is studying Forensic Anthropology in school. One of his skeletal identification textbooks addresses the subject in an interesting way. The book acknowledges that it is currently mandatory to view race as a social construct. But goes on to say that the grieving parents or the law enforcement officials waiting for your findings do not want to be lectured on race politics, they want to know the identification of the remains you are examining. The book goes on to describe in detail how race and sex can be determined with reasonable accuracy through analysis of even fragmentary skeletal remains.
            (I do not have the text at hand, so this is a paraphrase)
            Even when differences are small, larger populations of candidates will tend to reflect the mean.
            In the USMC, we did a great deal of lifting and carrying. Much more than anyone would reasonably expect. I was taught that, on average, a male can be expected to lift his body weight, and a female half her body weight.
            But noodling around with stats from the USMC, CDC, and strengthlevel.com, I tentatively come up with the average 21 year old American female Marine at 5’4″ and 147 lbs, and the average Male 5’9″ at 179 lbs. With intermediate levels of strength training, the female should be expected to lift 190 lbs, and the male 335 lbs. Under ideal conditions. This data, if accurate, would hold for the civilian world as well.
            But I understand that it is discriminatory for me to assign lifting jobs based on the “perception that women can lift less than men”.

      • Max Blancke
        Posted January 14, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        I was not trying to completely derail the STEM field discussion, so I did not go into detail. I have worked with a bunch of USMC women who are great at what they do. But when it comes time to unload a truck, the women are always going to move at a slower pace than the men. In rear areas, that is accepted and ignored. Marines function as a group, so the guys work a little harder to get the job done. In training, the guys will take some of the load off the girls so that they can keep up. This is done good naturedly, and with the aim of getting the team through the exercise successfully.
        In forward combat operations, anyone who cannot carry the weight (literally or metaphorically) risks everyone’s lives. None of this applies to women who work as pilots or do similar jobs. And orientation is irrelevant, in my view.
        Obviously, with human variation, there will be some women who have the strength and endurance to match or exceed the men. But they are rare. And when we put them in a forward unit, we are tasked with providing them with privacy in berthing, latrines, and bathing (when possible). Normally, we go long periods without any privacy at all. Adding or building separate facilities adds stress to the already complicated logistic and physical process of the mission. So there is a logistic cost beyond just locating extraordinarily strong women and sending them to the front. Also, even those women are more likely than the men to suffer injury, which puts more stress on the system with evacuation, treatment, training a replacement, etc.
        In any non-military enterprise, those costs would just be accepted as the price of diversity. In combat, the price could be human lives.

  9. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted January 14, 2018 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Discrimination based on any characteristic over which one does not have control is A Bad Thing. Putting individuals who are unqualified into a position because they belong to a discriminated-against class of humans is also A Bad Thing. The obvious and clearly correct answer to this dilemma is to remove from all job applications and college entry applcations all identifying information which would place applicants in or not in discriminated against classes of humans so that those responsible for reviewing applications have only the applicant’s actual qualifications for the job / opening to go by. Kind of like how double blind clinical trials are set up. If that policy is universally and consistently applied, and some classes of humans are still under- or over-represented in specific jobs/positions, then it will be clear that some factors not related to a penchant for discrimination on the part of those reviewing applications are at play.

    • Posted January 14, 2018 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Remember, though, that many colleges and univities have declared ethnic and sexual diversity a good thing to strive for, and have won lawsuits based on that, so your scheme wouldn’t be approved by places like Harvard or Yale.


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