Women-only STEM jobs advertised at a Dutch university

There’s a well known disparity in numbers between men and women in STEM fields, a disparity that universities and graduate schools try to rectify with recruitment efforts, forms of sex-specific affirmative action, and so on.

The assumption behind most of these these actions is often that the disparity is due entirely to sexism and discrimination against women in grad-school programs or in the workplace. And indeed, such discrimination has been documented not only anecdotally, but in psychology studies showing that c.v.s with women’s names on them are regarded less favorably than those bearing men’s names. (But we must not forget that discrimination in these studies can’t automatically be equated to discrimination in hiring, as many schools, including mine, try to overcome such bias by deliberately looking for women candidates.) Also, there are some studies (see this one from Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. that a reader highlighted at this link, showing that there are STEM biases in favor of women.

However, the main issue is the implicit and seemingly unquestionable claim that all sex-based disparity in STEM is due to bias and sexism. That needn’t be true, for there may be sex-based preferences that feed into the imbalance as well. That is, women may be less inclined, all else equal, to want to go into STEM fields. Indeed, as I show below, there’s some evidence that this is the case for STEM, and this probably also explains the sex imbalance seen in various subfields of medicine despite no differential in salary.

But even that possibility is almost unmentionable given the pervasive assumption that men and women are absolutely equal in preferring what kind of work to do. Even mentioning differential preference is, as you’ll recall, what got James Damore fired from Google.

And if sex-based difference in preference be true, then, even given equal opportunity in the workplace, there may remain a dearth of women. We then have to ask ourselves, “Why are we trying to achieve complete gender balance in STEM? Shouldn’t we just provide equal opportunity rather than try for equality in outcome?”

This appears to be the reason behind a new initiative at a Dutch university to get more equity in STEM hiring at the faculty level, as reported two days ago in Science (click on screenshot below).

Despite years of what they call “soft measures” to rectify sex bias in jobs at Eindhoven University, they’re now taking “hard measures”: limiting job applicants to women only. As Science reports:

A Dutch engineering university is taking radical action to increase its share of female academics by opening job vacancies to women only.

Starting on 1 July, the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) in the Netherlands will not allow men to apply for permanent academic jobs for the first 6 months of the recruitment process under a new fellowship program. If no suitable applicant has been found within that time, men can then apply, but the selection committee will still have to nominate at least one candidate of each gender.

“We have been talking about [gender balance] for ages,” says TUE President Robert-Jan Smits. “All kinds of soft measures are taken and lip service is paid to it. But the stats still look awful.” Currently, 29% of TUE’s assistant professors are women; at the associate and full professor level, about 15% are women. With this program, TUE wants to reach 50% of women for assistant and associate professors, and 35% for full professors.

. . .Dutch and EU laws allow policies to recruit underrepresented groups, TUE says. But across science, a gender gap persists: In 2011, women accounted for just one-third of all EU researchers, and, at the highest level of the academic career ladder, just 21% were women in 2013, according to the European Commission’s She Figures 2015 report.

Biologist Isabelle Vernos, a group leader at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, Spain, prefers that jobs be open to everyone whenever possible. “But depending on the discipline, I understand that sometimes you need high-impact action to change a pattern,” adds Vernos, who is a member of CRG’s gender balance committee and chairs the European Research Council’s working group on the same topic.

But as I reported early last year, a correlational study involving indices of gender equality among various nations with the percentage of women among STEM graduates shows a negative correlation. The more gender equality a country has (these are apparently objective and a priori measures of opportunity), the fewer women go into STEM. As I wrote (I include links),

A new paper in Psychological Science (free Unpaywall access; pdf here, reference at bottom) by Gijsbert Stoet and David C. Geary points to the second explanation: consistent differences in preference, and dispels the third, finding no consistent sex differences in abilities. This doesn’t rule out sexism, as they didn’t test for that, but the important factor seems to be preference. That’s because the authors find a strong and counterintuitive correlation between the gender gap in stem degrees and the index of gender equality in countries. In those countries with more gender equality, the gap between men and women in getting STEM degrees is larger. The authors explain that as resulting from a combination of sex-based preferences and the standard of living in different countries.

Before I give the data bearing on equality, there were also two important results of the study:

  • In overall science literacy, women and men were pretty equal throughout the world.
  • . . . when the authors looked at intraindividual differences in ability, that is, relative ability, they found that women generally ranked higher in reading compared to their average ability, while men ranked higher in science and mathematics compared to their average ability. 

That means that, overall, that women are academically better than men, but within sexes women tend to excel more in reading abilities than in STEM, while the reverse is true in men. This may reflect a difference in preference about what you like to study.

Here are two salient results, again taken from my summary of the paper. The first refers to the second point above:

  • When the authors looked at this “gender gap” in relative performance, they found out that it was larger in countries that were more gender equal. That is, the more equal the country in gender treatment, the greater the relative performance of women in reading over science and math, and the greater the relative performance of men in science and math over reading. Here’s a figure showing that, which also shows you the countries that are more gender equal (higher on the y axis) and those at the bottom (countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Tunisia, and Algeria):

  • Not only was the intraindividual “gender gap” larger in more gender-equal countries, but the percentage of women getting STEM degrees was lower in more gender-equal countries. Places like Norway, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, and Switzerland, which rank high on gender equality, had a much lower percentage of women among college STEM graduates than less gender-equal countries like the UAR, Tunisia, Turkey, and Algeria. Would you have expected that? The negative correlation is striking (same Y axis: higher Y scores mean more gender equality):

Now this is only one study and clearly needs further work, but the idea here is that when women are free to exercise their preferences, as they presumably are in more gender-equal countries, fewer of them choose to go into STEM than do women in less gender-equal countries, which are poorer and thus prompt women seeking economic well being to go into higher-paying STEM fields. The alternative explanation involving bias would involve making the unlikely assumption that there is more bias against women in STEM in more gender-equal countries.

The desperation move of opening up jobs for which men aren’t allowed to apply may reflect a failure to get equality of outcome despite years of trying to achieve it. Thus one can achieve such an outcome only by eliminating men from the job pool, a tactic that would be seen in the U.S. as not only unfair, but illegal.

It’s time, I think, to stop assuming that 100% of the gap between men and women in STEM is due to bias, and 0% to differences in preference. There is no justification for such an assumption, and some evidence against it. Nevertheless, to even mention differential preference is verboten, and can lead to one’s demonization for violating the ideological view that there is no behavioral difference between men and women—a view that rejects scientific findings if they conflict with a blank-slate view of the world.

This is why I emphasize societal concentration on equal opportunity rather than solely on equal outcomes. I hasten to add that we urgently need to figure out why there is disproportionate representation of the sexes in different jobs, and if some of that is due to bias, we need to eliminate that bias.  And we also need to ensure that equality not only for men versus women, but also for members of different ethnic groups, especially historically oppressed minorities. If part of the inequality of outcome reflects differential educational quality and opportunity, like teachers guiding women away from STEM or minorities having poorer schools, those need to be fixed, for these issues violate equality of opportunity as well.

That said, I am still in favor, for the time being, of a form of affirmative action in hiring for sexes and minorities, for that is a way to at least provide role models for members of different groups until we solve the problem of ensuring equal opportunity. But I continue to bridle at the untested and probably invalid assumptions that men and women are absolutely equal in their job preferences, and that the dearth of women in STEM solely reflects sexism.

________

Stoet, G. and D. C. Geary. 2018. The gender-equality paradox in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Psychological Science online; 0:0956797617741719. doi 10.1177/0956797617741719

 

 

62 Comments

  1. yazikus
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Places like Norway, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, and Switzerland, which rank high on gender equality, had a much lower percentage of women among college STEM graduates than less gender-equal countries like the UAR, Tunisia, Turkey, and Algeria. Would you have expected that?

    Honestly, this doesn’t surprise me that much, even if it disagrees with my anecdata. I went to high school in Finland and most (to be fair, it was a small class) of my female classmates have gone on to STEM careers while the males have gone more into business. Those countries with better equality also have better opportunities in general, opening up the option to pick a career that has less economic value in other settings (or countries) than they might otherwise. I am for allowing all young people to be able to pursue their passions and making sure they have equity of opportunity to do so. Not everyone needs to go into STEM, and that is okay, but no one who wants to and can do should be kept out based on their gender (which I’m sure we all agree on).

    • Posted June 20, 2019 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      … the idea here is that when women are free to exercise their preferences, as they presumably are in more gender-equal countries, fewer of them choose to go into STEM than do women in less gender-equal countries, which are poorer and thus prompt women seeking economic well being to go into higher-paying STEM fields.

      Doctor Evil …errr… Jordan Peterson, has many times pointed out this phenomenon.

      • chrism
        Posted June 21, 2019 at 5:23 am | Permalink

        Ha! I clicked on the comments to make that very point. PCC(E) has arrived at the position that has resulted in Peterson being labelled a misogynist. We simply have to force young women to go into fields they don’t enjoy for the greater good of equality of outcome.

  2. Posted June 20, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Well-balanced. Thanks, Jerry. I am reminded of my stint at an engineering company where we hired a woman who was quite conservative politically (much more so than I), but I admired her attitude. While some of her friends were getting Women’s Studies degrees and then complaining about a lack of women in STEM fields, she just knuckled down, did all the engineering work, and went into the field. Her more woke-minded friends could learn something from her.

  3. Curtis
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    My wife (software engineer) hates this kind of stuff. She would rather be known as someone who overcame obstacles than someone who got in with possibly less qualifications. She obviously had to deal with discrimination and harassment (some criminal) but would prefer true equality to a hand up.

    My daughter wants to be an mechanical engineer and is starting the college selection process. We are happy that she is much more likely to receive a scholarship but we are worried that she will be perceived as less competent because of discrimination against boys.

    We make it clear to both my son and daughter that they will each get advantages and disadvantages due to their sex.

  4. Davide Spinello
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Another relevant study: National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track from Proceedings of National Academy of Science.

    The abstract:

    The underrepresentation of women in academic science is typically attributed, both in scientific literature and in the media, to sexist hiring. Here we report five hiring experiments in which faculty evaluated hypothetical female and male applicants, using systematically varied profiles disguising identical scholarship, for assistant professorships in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Comparing different lifestyles revealed that women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers and that men preferred mothers who took parental leaves to mothers who did not. Our findings, supported by real-world academic hiring data, suggest advantages for women launching academic science careers.

  5. Divalent
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    If currently 29% of the university’s assistant STEM profs are women, but only 21% of Dutch STEM graduates are women, isn’t that evidence that hiring is already biased towards women?

  6. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I can agree 100% with our host.
    What strikes me as weird are the graphs, where on the ‘general equality’ index, countries like Ireland and Germany score higher than Denmark and the Netherlands. There must be some reason, it does not reflect reality as I know it. (Note, it does not impact the general argument). And there are several others I have some doubts about.
    Reminds us of that ‘blasphemy index’ where New Zealand was coloured red (the worst), while there has been only one case (and rejected at that, IIRC) in a century.

  7. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Very good. I often bring up the ‘mystery’ (which is really not a mystery) of why there are so few men who are teachers of young children, and why are there fewer male nurses. But another good example mentioned here is why there are fewer men and more women in certain areas of medicine? I think those areas are likely obstetrics and pediatrics.
    Differences in interest says a lot.

    • EdwardM
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Almost 75% of veterinary school graduates are women. Similar large gender disparities favoring women are in teaching, nursing and pharmacy schools.

      Does anyone think we’ll be seeing any effort to recruit men into these professions?

      An interesting factoid (that I’ll try to find a cite for) is that women make up a majority of mathematics graduates but are a significant minority in graduate school studies. This is thought to be because women mathematicians mostly go into teaching but few pursue higher degrees. Maybe there is bias in grad school admissions to explain this flip-flop between undergrad and grad, but I find that very difficult to believe.

      • Davide Spinello
        Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        In my university I often advocate to address the tragic underrepresentation of self identified males in gender studies.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted June 21, 2019 at 10:39 am | Permalink

          🙂

      • Robie
        Posted June 20, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        For years, there has been an ongoing effort to recruit more men into both nursing and teaching.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 20, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I recall male friends applying to teach elementary school and they were preferred candidates for being male as they are such a minority in elementary school. However, there are quite a few men who teach high school. Oddly, I had many male elementary school teachers, probably more males than females. One of my favourite teachers was a male non-white teacher (who I witnessed receive horrible racist treatment by students as other teachers stood by).

      • Marlene Zuk
        Posted June 20, 2019 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        The veterinary medicine example is an interesting one, and one that also casts doubt on the “inherent preferences” idea. In just 50 years, the field went from being 98 percent male to 50-50, and veterinary schools in the US have a large majority of women students. A number of reasons have been proposed for the shift, but I think it would be really hard to argue that the field is “innately” appealing to either sex.

  8. John Conoboy
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    There is also the effect of disparate treatment of boys and girls in schools, especially in the early grades. When my daughter told her elementary school teacher that she wanted to be a doctor, she was told that girls don’t become doctors, they become nurses. That is pretty overt but there is a lot of research showing that teachers treat boys and girls differently. This may not explain the gender difference in choosing STEM completely, but it is probably a factor as girls show interest in STEM when they are younger and then loose interest about age 15.

    • Posted June 20, 2019 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      This is a blatant violation of equal opportunity that must be stopped. Nobody should tell anyone that a field is for girls or for boys.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      I was looked at with shock when I said I wanted to be an astronaut in elementary school. When I struggled with math, I wasn’t helped and my parents were told that “girls just can’t do math”.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted June 21, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Much more than males become ‘nurses’, females become ‘doctors’ now. In the US more than 60% of all medical doctors under 35 are female. I think the trend is world wide.
      They are, surprise surprise, well represented in fields such as pediatrics, gynecology, psychiatry and dermatology.

  9. yazikus
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    of why there are so few men who are teachers of young children

    I lament this a bit, and with there was more parity in gender of early childhood education professionals. I’ve talked to a few guys who would have liked to go into the field but feared they would be judged as nefarious for having an interest in being around small children. That, to me, is another sad result of sexism. When kiddo was in pre-school there was but one male teacher – and he was so great! Some of the kids just responded to him differently than to their female teachers, and the school often wished they had three more ‘Teacher Brandons’.

    • yazikus
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Oops, this was a reply to Mark above.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes, either judged as weirdos who like kids in an untoward way or a “girly man” who likes doing woman’s work.

    • BJ
      Posted June 21, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      This is also why, when people are surveyed, they say they are uncomfortable with men as babysitters. I think our culture has done a great job as making every man seem like a possible sexual predator. This is particularly strange when one considers that mothers are more likely to abuse (whether physically or emotionally) their children than fathers.

  10. Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I am still puzzled by the higher percentage of women who are STEM graduates in low gender equality countries. Yes, they are likely attracted by the higher salaries, but isn’t that a given everywhere? And wouldn’t choice STEM jobs be more likely reserved for men in those gender unequal countries?

    • EdwardM
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      It is a bit puzzling, but here’s my $0.02;

      “Yes, they are likely attracted by the higher salaries, but isn’t that a given everywhere?”

      STEM jobs usually are higher paying than most (some are not though, particularly in the biological sciences) but I think the difference, in this regard, between countries with more gender equality and those with less is that other professions offer similarly (or approximately) high salaries. More options, IOW.

      • Roo
        Posted June 20, 2019 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        I’d also be curious to know how differences in salary impact a person functionally in different countries. In the US, the average salary of a teacher (based on a quick Google search,) is $55-60K a year, while the average salary of an electrical engineer is $75K. That is higher, yes, but might not make such a big difference in one’s lifestyle that it would be worth being in a field that a person didn’t favor (that 20K could probably be compensated for by living further out in the suburbs, buying a smaller dwelling, etc. – many people might consider that a worthwhile trade if it meant doing something they loved vs. something they didn’t) I’m not sure what the difference in salaries – and what that would mean for one’s purchasing power in the real world – is in other countries, however.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 20, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          I was thinking along those lines only slightly different. My question is how do the genders compare in salary. This would have to be looked at per country but it could tell some of the story. If the female in whatever specific job is paid less, that could have some effect on females wanting that line of work. In this country we know we don’t have equality in pay and I believe the women get something like 80 cents on the dollar for the same job. Look at the women’s soccer team to see how bad it can get. There is no excuse for it.

          • Posted June 20, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

            “Look at the women’s soccer team to see how bad it can get. There is no excuse for it.”

            I was with you up to this example. In any form of entertainment, which sports events are, remuneration varies according to the audience draw. The reason that women soccer players are paid less than their male counterparts is the same reason that the highest-paid MLB players make almost three times that of the highest-paid NHL players. Way more people attend baseball games than hockey games. So while there may not be an excuse, there’s definitely a reason.

          • EdwardM
            Posted June 20, 2019 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

            ” In this country we know we don’t have equality in pay and I believe the women get something like 80 cents on the dollar for the same job.”

            (emphasis added)
            The emphasized bit is not true. You can find one counter point here; http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/apr/13/tina-smith/do-women-get-only-80-percent-pay-men-do-same-job/

            From the article;
            “The official federal data shows that women earn 80 percent of what men earn, but that’s a collective average for all jobs, not a comparison of men and women holding identical jobs.”

          • XCellKen
            Posted June 21, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

            Several years ago, Rhonda Rousey was the second highest paid MMA Fighter in the world!!! She was also the second biggest draw !!! Go figure

    • Kosmos
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      First off, since there is a high positive correlation between GDP and gender equality it is not surprising that women in wealthier countries choose self realization over maximizing income. Secondly, the top ranking countries on gender equality are also among the most comprehensive welfare states, which makes income even less important all else being equal. And comprehensive welfare states are typically financed with high marginal taxes, further reducing the incentive to go for a high salary.

      I’m Swedish. Many here look for what interests them first, salary second.

      • Tom B
        Posted June 20, 2019 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

        It seems like you support a mostly free market approach (with big catch/support nets).
        People who discriminate being crucified is assumed, but otherwise, am I understanding your position?
        Just to be clear, I am not criticizing or trying to argue. I am truly curious how this works in various countries.

        • Kosmos
          Posted June 21, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

          I’m not entirely sure what you’re after but yes, Sweden is a free market capitalistic society combined with a big welfare state and very strong labour laws. But the difference between the U.S. and Sweden is a matter of degree.

          There certainly are many here as well who choose careers with intentions of maximizing earnings. But all I argue is that it seems likely that people, all else being equal, put less emphasis on maximizing income if they know that they regardless of career paths will have exactly the same health coverage as high income earners and that their children will have exactly the same access to education up to and including university as the children of rich parents.

          This whole argument of course rests on the assumption that there are genuine differences in interests between the genders.

    • Rita Prangle
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      I will offer another reason for the higher % of women in STEM fields in lower equality countries: STEM fields have more prestige in lower equality countries. So, women may be attracted to these fields as a way to achieve equality.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 20, 2019 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      I think some of this is cultural. Look at Eastern block countries. They always had a fairly high amount of women in STEM jobs yet their wider culture wasn’t exactly equal for men and women. It’s a cultural conundrum I could only understand if I were in that culture. Recall as well that many women in the 60s were in the space program as “computers” doing a lot of math work. It was considered a lowly job at the time – one that engineers didn’t want to do but women were attracted to doing that very STEMy work.

    • BJ
      Posted June 21, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      ” Yes, they are likely attracted by the higher salaries, but isn’t that a given everywhere? ”

      This is where things get weird, as the answer is “no” (on average). On average, the biggest interest men have when choosing a job is how much money they will make. Women (again, on average) tend to prioritize other things above financial gain, like flexible work hours, time off, etc. On average, women are more interested in whether the job will still allow them to live a comfortable life, but men are chiefly concerned with earning as much as possible.

  11. merilee
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  12. Posted June 20, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    “I am still in favor, for the time being, of a form of affirmative action in hiring for sexes and minorities, for that is a way to at least provide role models for members of different groups. . . .”

    This is the only point I’d take issue with in your otherwise excellent and even-handed piece. The only role modeling that occurs as a result of affirmative action is that ethnicity is a viable substitute for merit. I’m not persuaded that this is a model we want to perpetuate or that it benefits even those toward whom it is directed.

    • Posted June 20, 2019 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Also, it punishes people who did nothing wrong.

  13. P. Puk
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    The Dutch economy was booming in the early Naughties. Unemployment was low and there were shortages of employees.

    In an effort to get more people into the workplace, the government offered extra help to families (childcare subsidies etc.) to try get more women economically active.

    Needless to say, it was a failure. Why? Because of preference. Many women were quite happy to spend more time with their kids than to join the rat-race and gossip around the water cooler. Their spouses were earning enough to allow them this First World luxury and it’s no surprise they took it.

  14. bluemaas
    Posted June 20, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    In re the veterinary profession,
    interesting maybe. Likely not so much.

    Upwards of 85%, not 75%, n o w, of entering,
    let alone, of graduating ( lowest level )
    veterinary students are ones who are female.
    This has been true for decades. Actually.

    Highest level – / PhD – administrators,
    departments’ chairs and chief researchers and
    principle investigators at colleges ( only
    27 within the United States ) and within the
    administrations of professional veterinary
    medical organizations are overwhelmingly
    male. Still. And year after year after year
    when these positions … … change persons at
    The Top within them. After all of these
    decades of so, so many women now as
    veterinarians and as veterinarians with
    further PhD degrees. These changes are
    still overwhelmingly male at The Top.

    Easy answer. Has squat to do with innateness.

    Or little, if any, to do with genders’ preferences.

    Except in only one area … … in re preferences. $.

    There is not only little to no $ to be made
    as a practitioner but also the cost of one’s
    education is so much and so long that
    male students are not choosing to enter
    veterinary medicine at its lowest levels
    at all. Very many more men apply to and
    enter colleges of business, instead.

    Blue

  15. Posted June 20, 2019 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Good. Now the university should employ the same program to address the gender disparity in their janitors.

    • blue
      Posted June 21, 2019 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Since conducted by women or by men,
      there is nothing disparaging, sexist nor
      inegalitarian in re housekeeping and
      cleaning activities anywhere and as at
      very many universities ( in particular ),
      there are nearly equal numbers of the genders
      employed in such positions including as
      their housekeeping teams’ leaders, then
      to what, Mr Matt, is your statement
      referencing ? that men who determinedly make
      as many eliminations and messes as women make
      are innately not directed toward cleaning up
      such of their own rubbish, eliminations,
      garbage and disorder, let alone, the trashing
      done by others ?

      Blue

      • Posted June 21, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Many low-paying, menial, or unpleasant occupations are filled predominantly by men. Yet nobody claims that discrimination is keeping women out of those jobs, much less proposing incentives & quotas to redress the gender imbalance.

        • Blue
          Posted June 21, 2019 at 8:43 am | Permalink

          ( Particularly public ) universities’ housekeeping jobs are not low – paying and not thought, Mr Matt, to be, by very many of us appreciative persons therefor, … … menial.

          Blue

          • Posted June 21, 2019 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            1) Janitors are paid much less than STEM professors;
            2) Those jobs are by definition ‘menial’.

            But again, explain why is no one up in arms about about the gender disparity in these occupations.

            • Blue
              Posted June 21, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

              Likely “menial”
              according to your definition, Mr Matt.

              Both points are false according
              to the internet’s people.
              Even at least nine years’ time ago already.

              “Do janitors get paid more than teachers?

              School Salaries: Janitors Making More Than
              Teachers. … Head custodians can earn up to
              $106,329 in base salary—$6,000 more than
              New York City teachers’ max salary—but can
              supplement their income by filling in at
              other schools or helping out on nights and
              weekends, explains Gonen.Nov 9, 2010

              School Salaries: Janitors Making
              More Than Teachers – Teaching …
              https://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?cid=25920011&item=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.edweek…”

              Out and gone.
              Blue

              • Posted June 21, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

                Not sure why you choose to be so pugilistic.

                Perhaps it’s somewhat different in Sweden, but in the US, annual mean wages for:
                Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary $96,200
                Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary $87,140
                Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary $113,680
                Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary $97,340
                Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary $101,890
                Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary $92,360
                Environmental Science Teachers, Postsecondary $91,330
                Physics Teachers, Postsecondary $103,830

                Building Cleaning Workers $27,960
                Janitors and Cleaners $28,950
                Building Cleaning Workers $32,710
                Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers $30,940
                Tree Trimmers and Pruners $40,510
                Grounds Maintenance Workers, All Other $35,710

                https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

                Again, men make up most of the menial (‘of or relating to work or a job regarded as servile’) workers, yet no one is concerned about that gender disparity.

              • Posted June 21, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

                (The Netherlands, not Sweden.)

  16. A C Harper
    Posted June 21, 2019 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    I hasten to add that we urgently need to figure out why there is disproportionate representation of the sexes in different jobs, and if some of that is due to bias, we need to eliminate that bias.

    Quite so. I repeatedly say that we should establish the expected numbers of women and men in an occupation *if there were no unjustified bias* given a free choice, otherwise we have no target to work towards.

    Is bias real? Yes. But how much is unjustified and how much is justified? How much is brought into the selection process by the potential candidates themselves?

  17. Hunt
    Posted June 21, 2019 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    If they’re determined to run the experiment, then run the experiment, and run it good. After five years of forcing the dial to 50/50, then go back to lais·sez-faire hiring, and see what happens.

    The problem, of course, is that even if the dial slips off midpoint, yet another set of reasons will be found for why some factor other than preference has its finger on the scale. And that really is the problem; the proposition is effectively un-falsifiable.

    So I think PCC’s prescription is probably the best we can do: Do everything possible to maintain a level playing field, and then let the chips fall where they may.

  18. eric
    Posted June 21, 2019 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) in the Netherlands will not allow men to apply for permanent academic jobs for the first 6 months of the recruitment process

    Sounds a bit like the Rooney Rule in the NFL (basically: ‘you must interview at least one minority candidate for each coaching position’).

    AIUI, that had mixed success. The number of minority coaches has gone up since it was implemented, however it’s still pretty easy to game. If you have a preferred candidate in mind, you just follow the procedure as written with no intention of seriously considering anyone except your pre-chosen favorite. The Raiders hiring John Gruden (back) is an example of people blatantly and obviously getting around a “you must consider X before you consider Y” rule.

    Overall, I’m okay with the Dutch concept. But due to the NFL’s experience with their similar idea, I am skeptical it will have the beneficial effect the Dutch think it will.

  19. simonchicago
    Posted June 21, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    The ‘equality index’ is somewhat misleading. It measures salaries, not culture. For example, in Switzerland there is a fairly strong cultural bias for women staying home and taking care of children. There were recent major marches by women for equality, and according to the NYT they had a mixed reception…

    So it is not as much salaries as culture. Many of the societal messages that turn women away from STEM happen quite early.

    It is not clear what strategies work. For example, there seems to be some anecdotal evidence that “women who code” kind programs have mixed effects, as they also reinforce the message that “women are not good at this kind of stuff–they need extra help.” Seems related to the fact that elementary education in Finland is excellent, and they do not track/rank students–when all are presumed to be talented, all make progress.

    However, it seems very plausible that female role models help–so getting female STEM faculty is a win.

    • aljones909
      Posted June 21, 2019 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      If it’s based on earnings then there’s another biasing factor which may come into play. In the Netherlands, and possibly other advanced economies, there are many females who choose to work part time.

      Story in dutchnews.nl
      “Dutch women work part-time even in their 20s with no kids.
      Young Dutch women in their 20s are working fewer hours than their male counterparts, according to a study by the Dutch socio-economic think-tank SCP. The Netherlands has the greatest proportion of female part-time workers in Europe….
      only 25% of women have a full-time job after they have finished mbo college while 75% of men have jobs of over 35 hours a week. Seven in 10 female university graduates work full time, compared with 90% of the men.”

    • Posted June 21, 2019 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Many of the societal messages that turn women away from STEM happen quite early.

      Despite this being a common assumption — which which sweeping social engineering programs are rationalized — no quantitative evidence exists to support it. Indeed it is fully disproved by the fact that more egalitarian societies produce greater gender disparities in professions.

  20. Posted June 21, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Susan Haack’s bit on affirmative action is worth reading, still.

  21. aljones909
    Posted June 21, 2019 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Anecdotal evidence:
    My local NHS GP practice has 29 employees
    28 are female.

    • Sted24
      Posted July 1, 2019 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      My GP practice is smaller and the ratio is about 40:60 men to women.

      More notable is that none–NONE–of them work full time. Either the strain of being a GP is so great they can’t manage 5 days a week, or it is sufficiently lucrative they don’t need to.

      I suspect the latter. Bevan admitted when he set up the NHS he had to cross doctors’ palms with silver. He reckoned it was a sacrifice worth making.

  22. Posted June 22, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Those gender-equal counties differ in many ways from the unequal countries. Are other differences (health care? family leave? other?) important in job choices by men vs. women?

  23. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted June 23, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    It is localized in geography and time, so it will be an interesting experiment.

    But as I reported early last year, a correlational study involving indices of gender equality among various nations with the percentage of women among STEM graduates shows a negative correlation.

    So I just browsed this paper but it seems arguable.

    Unless I browsed too shallowly they used PISA scores, which are aimed at comparing efficiencies of school systems and not study outcomes as such. It is so standardized and filtered over nations that it has been widely criticized as not being useful for uncovering underlying factors with [say: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1071159/FULLTEXT01.pdf ; I can’t find an English version].

    But above all, are they not simply using p-hacking?

    On a side note:

    Even mentioning differential preference is, as you’ll recall, what got James Damore fired from Google.

    I could not make head or tails of that at the time. I now see from – again, shallowly browsing – the released Damore note [ https://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-1797564320/amp ] that he criticized Google’s attempt at doing the same as Eindhoven University of Technology now do.

    One reason people got in a tissue may have been that he listed his personal opinions on sex differences. I just picked a glaring claim, that females “in part due to biological causes” have more “neuroticism”, and my first return was a paper claiming there is no biological basis for that:

    “Mean neuroticism scores of females are slightly but significantly higher than for males (Costa, Terracciano, & McCrae, 2001) and neuroticism scores tend to be somewhat higher among individuals with lower socioeconomic status (Judge, Higgins, Thoresen, & Barrick, 1999). Therefore, it is informative that most studies of the associations between neuroticism and mental and physical health that controlled age, sex, and socioeconomic status have found that neuroticism is associated with mental and physical health independent of its correlation with these demographic factors (Kendler, Kuhn, & Prescott, 2004; Neeleman, Ormel, & Bijl, 2001; Stronks, van de Mheen, Looman, & Mackenbach, 1997).”

    [ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792076/ ]

    A slight difference that goes away when controlled for sex, I take it.

    I’m not sure that Damore should have been fired, but his personal opinion should be taken for what it is. In Sweden you can get fired if you don’t accept the value basis of the company because it leads to unnecessary work place conflicts – better for all parties to work at companies you value and who values you.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted June 23, 2019 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      “got into a tissue” = had a fit.

  24. Sted24
    Posted July 1, 2019 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    I am a little surprised at our host’s response. I greatly admire his expertise in genetics and evolution. He teaches me a lot. But does he give no credence to the work of Hamilton and Trivers and parental investment and so forth?

    Essentially, to bring it back to earth, men and women’s bodies are different, why should their minds be the same? Or their interests?

    The argument about women and STEM is conducted at the top end of the educational and class pyramid and is one eyed to boot.

    To deal with the latter first. Educationally women are doing far better than men. Universities are approaching 60:40. This has an unfortunate, largely unrecognised, consequence: fully a third of educated women will not be able to pair with a similarly educated man. This has already begun to happen (at least if you read the Guardian, although it isn’t expressed in those terms). And it seems to matter to educated women.

    In some fields, such as veterinary medicine, psychology, art history, literature, (ignoring gender studies), women have pretty much blown men away.

    Why no concern as to why men are so rare?

    Further, in both medicine and law, women are equalling men or have overhauled them. And these were arguably (at least in the UK, where I am from), the most male dominated, class-based, intransigent, fields of all. Women sailed right through them.

    So why the focus on STEM? And possible discrimination? Lack of interest seems to be the most parsimonious explanation of the disparity. At least if you accept that men and women are different. Women have happily gone where they want to.

    As to my first point: below the level of higher education, occupations remain as sex divided as as ever.

    In Britain we have bin men and dinner ladies (providing meals for children in schools), few male primary teacher or nurses, and almost no women construction workers, scaffolders, carpenters, plumbers, or electricians. No one complains.

    Is gender discrimination only for the elite? Or shouldn’t we just try to create conditions where people can do what they want?

    And admit that it should come as no surprise that men and women tend to want different things.

    Thanks for letting me rant!


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