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September 27, 2012 / JayMan

The Leaks in the Pipeline Found?

Post edited (9/28/2012), see below!

A new study was released, discussed by Ilana Yurkiewicz at her Scientific American blog, that seems to conclusively prove that gender bias in the sciences does exist. The article describes the challenges involved in studying this and how these challenges were overcome:

It’s tough to prove gender bias.

In a real-world setting, typically the most we can do is identify differences in outcome. A man is selected for hire over a woman; fewer women reach tenure track positions; there’s a gender gap in publications. Bias may be suspected in some cases, but the difficulty in using outcomes to prove it is that the differences could be due to many potential factors. We can speculate: perhaps women are less interested in the field. Perhaps women make lifestyle choices that lead them away from leadership positions. In a real-world setting, when any number of variables can contribute to an outcome, it’s essentially impossible to tease them apart and pinpoint what is causative.

The only way to do that would be by a randomized controlled experiment. This means creating a situation where all variables other than the one of interest are held equal, so that differences in outcome can indeed be attributed to the one factor that differs. If it’s gender bias we are interested in, that would mean comparing reactions toward two identical human beings – identical in intelligence, competence, lifestyle, goals, etc. – with the one difference between them that one is a man and one is a woman. Not exactly a situation that exists in the real world.

But in a groundbreaking study published in PNAS last week by Corinne Moss-Racusin and colleagues, that is exactly what was done. On Wednesday, Sean Carroll blogged about and brought to light the research from Yale that had scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the “female” applicants were rated significantly lower than the “males” in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.

This does seem to be a fairly solid indictment of academia for its sexism. Surely feminists everywhere will trumpet this study as a victory. After all, it proves that discrimination exists from the gate, and surely that’s responsible for every difference in the aggregate outcomes of males and females, which includes the fact that women overall earn less than men, are promoted less, and make up smaller fractions of certain fields, particularly in the “hard” sciences and engineering.

Well not so fast. First of all, few people would claim that discrimination doesn’t exist at all in the workplace and in academia. Indeed, I’ve always suspected that it indeed does exist, and does serve to help to hold women back. But, in the minds of people incapable of contemplating nuance (which is most people, unfortunately), the fact that discrimination exists means that it must be the only reason for these differences in outcomes, and any one who disagrees with this must be a sexist pig trying to keep women “in their place”. Just ask this guy, a man who was Watsoned before the man who is the term’s namesake.

With respect to the “discrimination only model”, here’s something to consider: Women aren’t the sole gender who are victimized by discrimination. Just ask men who want to work in early childhood education (also here).

This study’s design, while quite laudable, was actually suggested by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate way back in 2002 (p. 354):

there is no doubt that women faced widespread discrimination in the past and continue to face it in some sectors today. This cannot be proven by showing that men earn more than women or that sex ratios departs from fifty-fifty, but it can be proven in other ways. Experimenters can send out fake resumes or grant proposals that are identical in all ways except the sex of the applicant and see whether they are treated differently.

It seems that these researchers have done just that. They found that men and women were indeed treated differently, and in fact, they found that this difference was rather significant:

So case closed, right? We know that discrimination exists, and it’s apparently rather egregious, so we should try to fix that, and raise awareness among academic departments about their latent and apparently unconscious sexism, right?

Well I’m afraid it’s not quite so simple. Now that we know this, the next question that comes to mind is why is this so? The study found that the sex of the individual making the decision did not matter. Women were equally discriminatory of other women as the men were. Why is this so? Most feminists will have an answer, probably involving some story about the legacy of the evil Patriarchy. But I’m not so sure that’s the case.

For one, a couple of things to consider: As Larry Summers was “Watsoned” for mentioning, men have a higher standard deviation in IQ, so there are proportionally more men at the extremes. At the high end, where prospective candidates for high-level careers and academic positions will be found, this means that men outnumber women, and this becomes quite a large margin at very high levels of IQ (Richard Lynn and J. Philippe Rushton have also claimed to have found that in adults, men seem to have a higher mean IQ than do women, but there is some evidence that this finding may be in fact due to attrition of males on the low end). Hence, a significant share of the difference in male and female outcomes, particularly at the high end, is due to the fact that there are more smart men than there are smart women.

As well, there are other issues, such gender-specific cognitive strengths (men having an edge in visuospatial ability) and differing interests (not the least being that autism-spectrum traits are more common in men, and lend themselves to interest in physical sciences and engineering). However, let’s ignore those for the moment and return to the IQ differences. The resumes in the study were equalized in all ways except for the gender of the applicants. The “subjects'” respective accomplishments were the same. Hence, it should be inferred that each male should be equally intelligent as their female counterpart. However, the males were preferred regardless. As well, the reviewers found concrete-sounding reasons for rejecting the female candidates. In other words, they seemed to perceive the women as being less competent, even though they objectively weren’t.

Or were they? I’m about to touch an “advanced” concept that many readers of my blog probably aren’t quite ready for. I will state that if you haven’t quite gotten comfortable with the notion that “pointing out the existence of group-wide differences in the averages doesn’t tell necessarily you about a particular member of a group, hence people need to be judged as individuals”, then you’re not going to be ready for what I’m about to discuss. The reality of the situation is that there are limitations to that advice. For one, while group averages don’t determine anything concrete about group members, they do affect probabilities. It is not statistically unreasonable to prefer a female nanny to a male one because the female is less likely to sexually abuse your children. Just the same, it isn’t statistically unreasonably to avoid a strange male on a dark street but show no such apprehension to a strange female: the male is more likely to mug you.

I shouldn’t have to explain why this is tricky advice for me, as a person of color, to give.

OK, but that’s discrimination against more or less unknown group members. However, in this experiment, these people were vetted via their qualifications, so that should serve to remove many of the unknowns. There is still one other issue, and that is regression to the mean. As La Griffe du Lion explains, any sort of test is likely to overpredict the performance of high-scoring individuals, and much more so for those from low-scoring groups. This is because high scores are more likely to be flukes than scores closer to the mean. And individuals from low-scoring groups, having a lower mean, are more to generate suspect high scores (the individual from the lower scoring group is more likely to have been having a good test day), as Henry Harpending explains. Granted, much of this effect should be neutralized by the fact that the hiring people had more than a single test score in this case (more data brings more accurate measurements). However, that doesn’t change the fact that, overall, these individuals’ experience with female students/employees has shown them to be, overall, weaker performers, and it this, quite unfortunately, colors their decision.

The second factor is an inescapable one and one that needs to be addressed if the solutions I’ve previously discussed to societal problems are to ever come to pass. That is that women have children. Female candidates are simply more likely to take time off and interrupt their studies/work to have children. And indeed, evidence shows that this greatly negatively impacts women’s career advancement (also here). This is a major reason that educated women put off having children, contributing to dysgenic breeding among women. Employers and universities do take this reality to account, and as we see, prefer male candidates when all else is equal.

As commenter redzengnoist noted, European countries like his native Denmark have reduced this friction by providing working mothers with strong legal protection, entitling them to maternity leave and pay. Hence, having children is less of a career-killer for working moms, and the fertility rate among the educated is higher. I know that this is an anathema to the anti-socialist right-wing U.S., but only by embracing such policies (as Steven Pinker also suggested in The Blank Slate) can such discrimination—and the problems of dysgenic fertility—be addressed.

There is a third factor that likely plays a role in gender discrimination. That is group cohesion. Different workplaces and academic environments tend to select for certain types of people, and hence the individuals in a particular workplace or academic department tend to be similar to one another. In certain fields, where gender ratios overwhelmingly favor one sex or the other, it can be hard for those who don’t fit the mold to fit in. It is this that is partly responsible for the perceived hostility that male early childhood teachers experience: they are simply not part of the group. The feeling of unwelcomness such outliers experience in such settings may not be (or may be) overt discrimination, but rather a lack conformity to the group norms. For example, engineers, in addition to usually being male, are also often conservative—indeed libertarian—and this may make it harder for those who don’t hold these political views to join these departments. This fact is simply an aspect of human nature and may be difficult or impossible to ever completely eliminate.

Edit, 9/28/2012: There is a fourth factor that possibly contributes the observed behavior. See this comment to the original post on Yurkiewicz’s blog:

There’s another possible explanation, in addition to the four listed, that could explain why everyone (both men and women) rated the qualifications lower when they were attached to a female name:

(5) The applicant has been the beneficiary of affirmative action, and therefore she did not have to jump through hoops of the same difficulty all along the way.

This is an absolutely rational way to interpret data when one knows that affirmative action exists. It certainly exists pervasively with respect to race. It’s less clear with regard to gender. In fact because more girls apply to college than boys, it’s reported that colleges seeking a 50% male class admit boys a little easier than girls.

But in science and engineering, there’s always female “under-representation” and always someone saying we’ve got to do something about it. There is always a push for affirmative action, to get more females! This has been true during my whole life, ever since I started in college and could observe it.

I remember my freshman year in engineering school. Usually the class was 20% female, but that year they tried increasing it to 25% female. They admitted an extra 5% of the class as females with somewhat lower standards, to get the percentage up.

By the end of the second year, just about all of that 5% of extra females had flunked out. And this was a very meritocratic place, if you were clever they didn’t care if you were a small green man from Mars.

Steven Pinker also made this point in The Blank Slate (p. 358):

Many women scientists are opposed to hard gender preferences in science, such as designated faculty positions for women, or the policy (advocated by one activist) in which federal research grants would be awarded in exact proportion to the number of men and women who apply for them. The problem with these well-meaning policies is that they can plant seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the excellence of beneficiaries. As the as astronomer Lynn Hillenbrand said, “If you’re given an opportunity for the reason of being female, it doesn’t do anyone any favors: it makes people question why you’re there.”

This is why I am against gender and race based preferences in employment and education. They don’t do as must justice to the beneficiary group as we think, and it serves to sow resentment among passed-over individuals as well as contribute to the impression that candidates from the beneficiary group are inferior.

Edit: See also A Success Story?

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39 Comments

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  1. Anonymous / Sep 28 2012 2:44 AM

    Did you not read my warning against Explaining Things (in the comment right above yours, under Ilana’s article)? People should not attempt to explain things they’re ignorant about because what comes out is useless or misleading confabulations that makes them look foolish and wastes readers’ time. You ignorant of the history of such studies on discrimination or implicit biases. Pinker didn’t come up with the design; he was referring to existing studies since Martha Foschi came up with the design. You could’ve looked at the paper under “Procedure” and followed the references to learn what the design was based on.

    Also, you’re ignorant of how feminist theory works. And of how brains work, which is why you suggest all sorts of macro-social policies that don’t deal with how brains learn biased info and can overcome biases, such by as using information from philosophy and science on biases.

    You’re might as well answer “why?” with “because God did it.” Then you’d be less likely to publish Godless-Explanations-of-the-Gaps. The more useful question would’ve been “what happened?” so you’d go investigate the history of the paper, draw upon your own memories (which in my case incl. male adult family members claiming that women are stupid and useless, harassing or abusing women and children, lazying about waiting for the female members to serve them, etc.), and learn more about relevant fields of study before discussing them in ways that share knowledge, not just-so explanations.

    • JayMan / Sep 28 2012 8:10 AM

      Did you not read my warning against Explaining Things (in the comment right above yours, under Ilana’s article)? People should not attempt to explain things they’re ignorant about because what comes out is useless or misleading confabulations that makes them look foolish and wastes readers’ time.

      Well I’m so sorry that I didn’t consult someone of your obvious grand, superior knowledge before meager I wrote this little blog post… :\

      Pinker didn’t come up with the design; he was referring to existing studies since Martha Foschi came up with the design.

      I never claimed that Pinker came up with the study design, only that he advocated it. What’s this about “low-effort thinking”, again?

      Also, you’re ignorant of how feminist theory works. And of how brains work, which is why you suggest all sorts of macro-social policies that don’t deal with how brains learn biased info and can overcome biases, such by as using information from philosophy and science on biases.

      Ummmm…Well then surely you’ve taken the time to read through my blog then, particularly starting here, yes?

      You’re might as well answer “why?” with “because God did it.” Then you’d be less likely to publish Godless-Explanations-of-the-Gaps. The more useful question would’ve been “what happened?”

      Yup.

      so you’d go investigate the history of the paper, draw upon your own memories (which in my case incl. male adult family members claiming that women are stupid and useless, harassing or abusing women and children, lazying about waiting for the female members to serve them, etc.)

      Well I’m sorry to hear that, but that procedure sounds real objective… :\

      and learn more about relevant fields of study before discussing them in ways that share knowledge, not just-so explanations.

      And yet, I don’t see much by way of substantive criticism of my “just-so” explanations. Care to offer some?

    • szopeno / Sep 28 2012 8:31 AM

      which feminist theory? I’ve heard there are NINE different feminsit theories. Including one which postulates that science discriminates females, since it promotes male version of rationality and objectivity (and other strain of feminists may even consider this sexist).

    • jennypi2 / Sep 29 2012 8:46 PM

      Gendering “rationality and objectivity” as male traits is inherently sexist and implies that females are irrational and subjective. There are lots of feminist theories, and I’m sure the number “nine” can’t contain the diversity of opinions.

    • szopeno / Oct 2 2012 4:10 AM

      So there are feminists which are sexist. i have not invented this “theory” – there really WERE feminists, who wrote that.

    • redzengenoist / Sep 28 2012 8:54 AM

      The arrogant condescension dripping from this post, combined with the sheer absence of intellectual content, make it one of the funnest things I’ve read in weeks. Almost involuntarily, I hear it read aloud in the voice of the Wicked Witch of the West. ^_^

  2. Nyk / Sep 28 2012 4:47 AM

    “I shouldn’t have to explain why this is tricky advice for me, as a person of color, to give.”

    May I inquire as to your race? I always assumed you were White. It’s very remarkable to find a non-White HBD blogger (except for Razib Khan, of course, but he’s writing more for the mainstream nowadays and therefore must avoid overly controversial topics).

    I think that, if HBD topics are ever going to get traction, people must find out about them from a non-White (preferably Black) person. At this point, a Black person explaining HBD on youtube, for example, can convince a lot more people than any of us White ‘privileged’ guys.

    • JayMan / Sep 28 2012 8:17 AM

      May I inquire as to your race? I always assumed you were White.

      Not quite.

      I think that, if HBD topics are ever going to get traction, people must find out about them from a non-White (preferably Black) person. At this point, a Black person explaining HBD on youtube, for example, can convince a lot more people than any of us White ‘privileged’ guys.

      Maybe I should make YouTube videos instead of just blogging? Maybe I can be the Neil deGrasse Tyson of HBD? ;)

    • redzengenoist / Sep 28 2012 8:57 AM

      Please do.

    • redzengenoist / Sep 28 2012 8:58 AM

      Oh ffs yes!

      And try to sound like Morgan Freeman if you can, you’d do an awesome service to HBD if you could even come close.

    • JayMan / Sep 28 2012 12:15 PM

      Well, we almost had that, but they ended up going the opposite route:

      Unsurprisingly, the part with Prof. Gottfredson of the U. of Delaware discussing racial differences in average IQ appears to have disappeared through a wormhole. You can, however, still read the subtitles to the vanished video here.

  3. Anonymous / Sep 28 2012 5:53 PM

    this post is completely illogical yet pretends to have all the answers. how incredibly frustrating. wow.

    “First of all, few people would claim that discrimination doesn’t exist at all in the workplace and in academia.” False. Have you talked to anyone recently? Do you read at all? Many people make this claim.

    “the fact that discrimination exists means that it must be the only reason for these differences in outcomes, and any one who disagrees with this must be a sexist pig trying to keep women “in their place”.” holy strawman, batman! I think the original Scientific American post explained quite nicely how it’s not everything, but the point is that no longer can you argue it’s nothing.

    “Most feminists will have an answer, probably involving some story about the legacy of the evil Patriarchy.” Again, do you read at all? the authors of the study said it was most likely subconscious and not intentional but based on pervasive cultural stereotypes. but thanks for creating a strawman anyway and ignoring that very real explanation.

    “a significant share of the difference in male and female outcomes, particularly at the high end, is due to the fact that there are more smart men than there are smart women.” I’m starting to run out of patience. why don’t you read or think at all before you try to form an argument? in the study, they portrayed the applicants as NOT at the high end, showing that even in the MIDDLE, the men were favored for no good reason.

    “I’m about to touch an “advanced” concept that many readers of my blog probably aren’t quite ready for.” Thanks for condescending to your readers!

    “Female candidates are simply more likely to take time off and interrupt their studies/work to have children.” Men are more likely to take time off for their heart surgeries. For pete’s seke the past Vice President of the United States couldn’t function because of his failing heart. But god forbid he had a child! You are cherry picking data. Can you comprehend that? Or perhaps using logic is an advanced concept you’re not ready for.

    “Different workplaces and academic environments tend to select for certain types of people, and hence the individuals in a particular workplace or academic department tend to be similar to one another.” You know, in the old days that group cohesion involved white people excluding everyone else. If you can’t see how that’s a problem you are beyond help.

    • JayMan / Sep 28 2012 11:46 PM

      this post is completely illogical yet pretends to have all the answers. how incredibly frustrating. wow.

      Ah, I’m illogical. Rather ironic…

      “the fact that discrimination exists means that it must be the only reason for these differences in outcomes, and any one who disagrees with this must be a sexist pig trying to keep women “in their place”.” holy strawman, batman! I think the original Scientific American post explained quite nicely how it’s not everything, but the point is that no longer can you argue it’s nothing.

      I never made that argument.

      “Most feminists will have an answer, probably involving some story about the legacy of the evil Patriarchy.” Again, do you read at all? the authors of the study said it was most likely subconscious and not intentional but based on pervasive cultural stereotypes.

      I’m not talking about the study’s authors. We’ll see how it’s spun by radical feminists…

      “a significant share of the difference in male and female outcomes, particularly at the high end, is due to the fact that there are more smart men than there are smart women.” I’m starting to run out of patience. why don’t you read or think at all before you try to form an argument? in the study, they portrayed the applicants as NOT at the high end, showing that even in the MIDDLE, the men were favored for no good reason.

      Well, I’d give you the same advice (that you should read), but there are other issues along with this…

      Allow me to clear this up for you: by high end, I mean the right half of the bell curve, and indeed, more specifically, of those well above average in IQ, whom would the likely pool for most academic posts at the college level.

      “Female candidates are simply more likely to take time off and interrupt their studies/work to have children.” Men are more likely to take time off for their heart surgeries.

      Right, because those happen at equal frequencies… :\

      You’re not exactly doing a service to your cause with patently ridiculous statements like that.

      “Different workplaces and academic environments tend to select for certain types of people, and hence the individuals in a particular workplace or academic department tend to be similar to one another.” You know, in the old days that group cohesion involved white people excluding everyone else. If you can’t see how that’s a problem you are beyond help.

      I never said that that was a good thing. Only that it is a likely factor towards explaining the feeling of discrimination “out-group” members feel in the workplace and academia.

  4. jennypi2 / Sep 29 2012 9:02 PM

    I want to be constructive with this response, so I’m going to focus on the one (but very big) aspect of your idea about why females don’t get hired-the idea of loading the odds off getting a highly intelligent, high performing employee by selecting the male based on IQ. First of all, IQ, like BMI, should be used sparingly and never in an argument as to why group x is better or worse than group y. I would think that as a person of colour you would know that- white supremacists have been using that old trick for ages as a reason why white people are superior. Besides being Euro-centric, the IQ test also falls into the “stereotype threat” which cannot be teased apart from the raw scores, as well as the “peer group culture” aspect. So if minorities (historically, the black minority) and females consistently have a difficult time scoring in the very top percentiles, is that an inherent flaw in their intelligence, or is it that they are not performing optimally because of the “stereotype threat” or “peer group culture”? So are you actually selecting for the more likely high performing individual if you pick a white male, or are you perpetuating the “stereotype threat” (in particular) by continuing to perpetuate that the white male will be the most successful?

    Also, your comment that more men have autism spectrum characteristics is flawed. The autism spectrum disorder characteristics were based exclusively on studying males. In females it often is hard to diagnose because they tend to have greater mimicry skills throughout toddler hood and early child hood. Females also have different manifestations, like really high incidences of eating disorders for example. It will be interesting in the future to see the diagnostic criteria change for gender specificity (including intersex) for early childhood.

    • JayMan / Sep 29 2012 9:31 PM

      First of all, IQ, like BMI, should be used sparingly and never in an argument as to why group x is better or worse than group y.

      Apparently you haven’t read through my blog. First, welcome! Second, I would recommend that you do, particularly here and here. IQ is the largest factor (but not the only factor) that differentiates the relative success of groups.

      Besides being Euro-centric

      That’s a myth which is part of the standard package of disinformation about IQ tests. Consider the fact that Blacks, for example, do even worse on culture-fair IQ tests (such as non-verbal tests like the Raven’s Progressive Matrices).

      the IQ test also falls into the “stereotype threat” which cannot be teased apart from the raw scores, as well as the “peer group culture” aspect. So if minorities (historically, the black minority) and females consistently have a difficult time scoring in the very top percentiles, is that an inherent flaw in their intelligence, or is it that they are not performing optimally because of the “stereotype threat” or “peer group culture”?

      As I noted in this post, stereotype threat cannot be responsible for the lowered scores of some groups with respect to Whites. If it were, and hence underestimating the “true” intelligence of individuals from lower scoring groups, then these individuals would perform better in the real world than their test scores would indicate. But in fact, the exact opposite happens: IQ tests overpredict non-Asian minority performance. Of course, then there is the fact that other groups, such as East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews score better than White gentiles.

      Also, your comment that more men have autism spectrum characteristics is flawed. The autism spectrum disorder characteristics were based exclusively on studying males. In females it often is hard to diagnose because they tend to have greater mimicry skills throughout toddler hood and early child hood. Females also have different manifestations, like really high incidences of eating disorders for example. It will be interesting in the future to see the diagnostic criteria change for gender specificity (including intersex) for early childhood.

      So you’re saying that the disorder is the same because the traits are different?? :\ While it will be indeed interesting to see future research on the autism spectrum (and all human psychology), I’m not denying that autism exists in females and that perhaps it is even under recognized. That said, the traits that are relevant (classic autie/Asperger’s-type) are clearly more prevalent in males.

    • jennypi2 / Sep 29 2012 9:55 PM

      So you still think that hiring based on probabilities of populations is best, and that’s why there are less females and black people in science? I mean, you clearly have written a lot on IQ and in this article you said that it is a legitimate reason for hiring less women, so I don’t think I’m making assumptions there. And that is a good thing because it stacks your odds? (I read those articles, but I have to be honest, white text on a dark background= massive headache. I had a very hard time finishing the articles, just as a format note). Also, regardless of the nuance in analyzing IQ, the speculation on it being a conflated predictor is interesting. I can’t remember who said it, but there is quite an elegant description of IQ being like a tooth- from the size of that tooth you can estimate what the size of the animal may be, or what they might be best at doing or eating, but at the end of the day you are looking at a very tiny snapshot that does not qualify you to comment on what the animal is truly like in its behavior, physical ability, and performance. It may be the strongest predictor of success in studies, but seeing as non-discriminatory hiring practices have never really been applied and minority groups being persistent in the general work force is relatively new , who’s to say it is the number one predictor if it is in the context of non-equal opportunities. I think this also effects the confusion with performance- under or over performing from IQ tests: if performance over predicts performance in Asian groups, would that not be an argument that we should be looking for more factors to predict overall performance (which is what matters)?

      I also can’t help but think that the gender-binary single-orgin-race aspect is a little outdated. If gender is a fluid construct, what happens for genderqueer identified individuals? What about individuals that present as a different gender than they identify with? And I’m 1/4 Irish, 1/4 Chinese, 1/4 British, and 1/4 unknown. Like many of my mix-breed friends, how would you hire/judge me based on my racial background? How would you stack the odds for optimal IQ in these cases? Looking at ancestry in a single-track manner is very problematic and at the end of the day irrelevant in many modern day hiring practices.

    • JayMan / Sep 29 2012 10:18 PM

      So you still think that hiring based on probabilities of populations is best,

      Yes, I’m afraid you are. I haven’t advocated anything of the sort. Explanation ≠ exculpation or even endorsement.

      and that’s why there are less females and black people in science?

      The reasons stem, in large part, from differences in the distribution. The statistical reality is that with a lower standard deviation (in the case of women) or a lower mean (in the case of lower average IQ groups) there will be fewer individuals of high ability in said groups than there are among White.

      It may be the strongest predictor of success in studies, but seeing as non-discriminatory hiring practices have never really been applied and minority groups being persistent in the general work force is relatively new

      Affirmative action policies in fact do create unequal opportunities—favoring women and minorities. This has none the less failed to improve performance.

      I also can’t help but think that the gender-binary single-orgin-race aspect is a little outdated.

      Not as far as mother nature is concerned. Exceptions, such as intersexed individuals, who, really, are biological mistakes (hopefully you can understand how pointing that out isn’t meant to disparage such individuals; I believe that they deserve to be treated with dignity like all people) don’t invalidate the rule.

      And I’m 1/4 Irish, 1/4 Chinese, 1/4 British, and 1/4 unknown. Like many of my mix-breed friends, how would you hire/judge me based on my racial background?

      White-on-black text or no, I would refer you to back to what I said post, about the concept of evaluating people as individuals on their own merit…

    • jennypi2 / Sep 29 2012 10:37 PM

      Isn’t stating affirmative action policies create unequal hiring opportunities for minorities and women assume that minorities and women come from an equal position as majorities and men? Stating that you support hiring on exclusively individual merit with no attempt to diversify, won’t that be inherently unfair because we have non-equal opportunity in society as the context? I think that your last very short section of your article doesn’t take this into account.

    • JayMan / Sep 29 2012 10:49 PM

      Isn’t stating affirmative action policies create unequal hiring opportunities for minorities and women assume that minorities and women come from an equal position as majorities and men?

      Think about it: even they did (which, in the case of minorities, they typically do), and even if that did negatively impact their performance, that would still mean that they are in fact, on average, weaker candidates. What’s the sense in hiring inferior candidates only for the sake of “diversity”?

      In any case, in the developed world IQ isn’t largely affected by environmental disadvantage (things like malnutrition and lead paint can negatively impact IQ, but few people have that problem in America today).

    • jennypi2 / Sep 29 2012 11:03 PM

      If opportunities have been limited, I wouldn’t say that necessitates there will be lower performance as a result. Non-equal opportunity means there haven’t been chances to show performance. And if there is no increase in opportunities, if in fact it is related to poorer performance, wouldn’t that perpetuate in specific group and result in continued poor performance with no chance of improvement? Is it worth creating opportunities now, and experiencing very marginal differences if any in performance, to create more opportunities in the future?

      And CDC estimates 890,000 US children have elevated blood lead levels. More than 1/5 of African-American children living in old houses (before 1950? Or thereabouts? Can’t remember) have elevated lead levels. Also consider that malnutrition does not just refer to a caloric deficiency- it can also be the “overfed undernourished” theme in North America, where we see very frequently. Individuals who have an excess of calories, but a deficiency in nutrients tend to perform poorly as a result.

    • JayMan / Sep 30 2012 12:50 PM

      Again, the fact that cognitive tests overpredict minority performance shows that they are not under-performaning due to a lack of opportunity, but a lack of ability.

      Then of course, there’s trans-racial adoption studies. Children adopted across perform similarly to those reared by parents of their own race.

      I would you advise you to see here and here.

      I would then ask you to review this.

      Environment-only explanations for racial differences in IQ have been tested and exhausted. Particularly in the developed world, it hard to explain these persistent gaps without resorting to some genetic involvement.

  5. Anne Bennett (@AnneKavkaz) / Oct 1 2012 3:31 AM

    Another factor: women are more involved in child-raising. As a new med school grad my daughter was told cardiac and neuro-surgery should be undertaken only by men or women who planned to remain childless, because they said, “It becomes your life.”. She opted for general surgery (now has one child and another on the way).

  6. Anne Bennett (@AnneKavkaz) / Oct 1 2012 4:12 AM

    Please excuse my being less than clear in previous comment. I meant cardiac and neuro-surgery were NOT recommended for women who wanted to have children (they seemed to think it was OK for men who wanted a family). This supports your idea that all other things being equal, women will still not earn as much nor advance as far, simply due to the family problem. This occurred in Canada about six years ago.

    • JayMan / Oct 1 2012 8:57 AM

      No worries, I got what you meant. Yes, that is a problem. See my latest post here: A Success Story?

  7. M.G. / Oct 5 2012 10:35 AM

    Really nice post, one that hits on some taboo subjects, as seen in the passionate responses above.

    Denmark have reduced this friction by providing working mothers with strong legal protection…I know that this is an anathema to the anti-socialist right-wing U.S.

    Yes, when I first learned about all the pro-natality laws in Europe I was shocked. But now I understand the ‘baby subsidies’–in some of these countries, women simply wouldn’t have kids without them. (Russia is desperately trying to solve this problem.) Some of the laws I still think are too onerous, like in France a company is obliged to hold a woman’s job open for her for some wildly long time after childbirth, two years maybe. There have to be limits.

    But on the whole, those who think we’ll soon be back to an era where moms stay at home and dads work are misled. As you’ve said before, the snapshot in time when that was possible is finished and it’s not coming back. Poor women have always worked, and for most of history poor women have been most women. Sudden, widespread enrichment was why the ‘Ozzy and Harriet’ era happened. It seems on the whole we’re getting poorer than we were then.

    Realistically, the best-case scenario today I think would be something like the Netherlands, where 75% of working women do so part-time. (see here) These are supposedly the happiest women on the planet–they get the intellectual stimulation a little work brings, but devote the bulk of their time to raising kids/keeping house.

    I like your policy solutions, JayMan, because they’re based on the fact that (barring an apocalyptic event) some things in the West really have changed permanently, and we’ve got to legislate around that in the most sensible way possible.

    • redzengenoist / Oct 5 2012 3:54 PM

      For praise from a mind like M.G., Jayman has the right to be flattered, I think.

    • JayMan / Oct 6 2012 12:11 AM

      I am. :)

    • JayMan / Oct 6 2012 12:01 AM

      Really nice post

      Thank ya… :)

      But on the whole, those who think we’ll soon be back to an era where moms stay at home and dads work are misled. As you’ve said before, the snapshot in time when that was possible is finished and it’s not coming back. Poor women have always worked, and for most of history poor women have been most women. Sudden, widespread enrichment was why the ‘Ozzy and Harriet’ era happened. It seems on the whole we’re getting poorer than we were then.

      Yes, not only have the social conditions of that era changed, the economic conditions of the 1950s boom are gone, mostly for this reason.

      Interestingly, should immigration be curtailed, and hence wages begin to rise as the labor pool stabilizes, we may see another baby boom—at least briefly until cost of living again rose thanks to population pressure.

      Also, interestingly, the problem of an “aging population” might not be as much of problem as it is commonly feared. Retiring workers shrink the labor pool, and as long as immigrants aren’t allow to rush in to fill it, the ensuing labor scarcity should cause wages to rise, pushing up tax revenue to easily care for the glut of retirees.

      Realistically, the best-case scenario today I think would be something like the Netherlands, where 75% of working women do so part-time. (see here) These are supposedly the happiest women on the planet–they get the intellectual stimulation a little work brings, but devote the bulk of their time to raising kids/keeping house.

      Yes. Women from K-selected societies generally like to work (they’ve bred to, after all), so allowing them to do so will keep the babies coming.

      One can argue that right-wing policies, such as things that prevent working motherhood (e.g. opposition to maternity leave), blocking the availability of contraception/abortion (which makes unwed motherhood much less tenable), and no entitlements (which prevent the survival of the lower classes) favor conservative reproduction at the expense of liberal fertility (since conservatives are more inclined to the stay-at-home mom Ozzie & Harriet lifestyle). At the moment, in America—and I’d imagine in much of the Western world, the current environment selects for conservatives. Were we to offer solutions like maternity leave and welfare + abundant family planning services, liberal fertility would be more favored. White conservatives may claim that they have the concern of all Americans at heart, but their policies are fascinatingly self-interested.

      I like your policy solutions, JayMan, because they’re based on the fact that (barring an apocalyptic event) some things in the West really have changed permanently, and we’ve got to legislate around that in the most sensible way possible.

      Yes. Which is exactly why it won’t happen, unfortunately…

  8. Paleo Retiree / Oct 5 2012 1:10 PM

    Thomas Sowell made a good point: maybe we’re making a very basic mistake when we start with the assumption that fields should by nature (if it weren’t for discrimination, etc) be populated by representative numbers of all kinds of people. Maybe it makes more sense to assume that fields by nature will be populated by very different kinds of clusters of people. Maybe that should be the default assumption instead.

    For eg: Why assume (Sowell said) that, if it weren’t for evil discrimination, the people who work in the beer industry would “look like America”? Realistically speaking, Germany has a lonnnnnng history of making beer, and German immigrants founded many of the U.S.’s beer businesses … So why be surprised (let alone morally revulsed) if you find a large-ish — ie., “unrepresentative” — number of Germans in the beer business? It’d be weird (if you’re a realistic person rather than an ideologue) if that weren’t the case.

    One nice (or at least convenient) thing about this line of argument is that there’s no need to go into anything touchy like genetics …

    • JayMan / Oct 6 2012 12:10 AM

      Thomas Sowell made a good point: maybe we’re making a very basic mistake when we start with the assumption that fields should by nature (if it weren’t for discrimination, etc) be populated by representative numbers of all kinds of people. Maybe it makes more sense to assume that fields by nature will be populated by very different kinds of clusters of people. Maybe that should be the default assumption instead.

      Very much so. Unfortunately, American liberals are very much at their heart blank slatists, and most notions of innate differences really, deep down, don’t really compute (some how they make a fantastic exception with sexual orientation, however. As such, they can’t contemplate that differences in outcome doesn’t automatically imply differences in opportunity (although there are some differences in opportunity, as we see here).

      I do often wonder how averse modern liberals are to the notion of innate differences between people, and between groups. The early socialists were eugenicists, after all. But Razib Khan likes to point out that most people don’t figure things out for themselves (since they are typically too dumb/lazy), but instead defer to trusted “authorities”. With the “authorities” saying we’re all the same, how surprised can we be about what the people believe?

      Of course my gf warns that people are too dumb to handle knowledge of innate differences, and that such knowledge will just give fuel to racists and other bigots. I can’t deny that that is a distinct possibility, but however, I believe that, in the long run, it’s better for people to know the truth.

      Realistically speaking, Germany has a lonnnnnng history of making beer, and German immigrants founded many of the U.S.’s beer businesses … So why be surprised (let alone morally revulsed) if you find a large-ish — ie., “unrepresentative” — number of Germans in the beer business? It’d be weird (if you’re a realistic person rather than an ideologue) if that weren’t the case.

      One nice (or at least convenient) thing about this line of argument is that there’s no need to go into anything touchy like genetics …

      That actually might be the easier tactic… ;)

  9. namae nanka / Oct 14 2012 8:15 PM

    “Also, you’re ignorant of how feminist theory works.”

    David Stove thought he did. Explained by a feminist.

    http://web.maths.unsw.edu.au/~jim/arts.html

    and here practically applied.

    http://www.athleticdesign.se/otherstuff/sexism_in_peer_review_english.html

    and apparently without data:

    http://www.safs.ca/april2010/sommers.htm

    by the time one debunks it, the damage has been done.

Trackbacks

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