Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘equality

PC annoyances

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One of the great annoyances and proofs of human stupidity is the many, many, many news items where poor reasoning or ignorance is used to support a politically correct agenda (be it by the journalist or the politicians, whatnot, reported on). I regularly find myself keeping a browser tab open, because I want to write something about a particularly idiotic item—but before I get around to it a week has passed and I have ten open tabs. (At which point I usually resign myself and just close them.)

Particularly common problems include:

  1. Variations of the 77-cents-on-the-dollar myth, which has been debunked for years*. Recently, e.g., the video-text of the German ARD reported that Germany is about to introduce transparency rules implying that women should have a (presumably asymmetric) right to find out what men in similar positions in their companies earn.

    *Cf. e.g. several earlier posts.

    A major problem with this is that just having the same (let alone a “similar”) position is not that strong an indication of what someone earns or should earn. Other criteria include actual performance, experience, education, how long the position has been held, and (very notably) negotiating* skill and tactic.

    *It could be argued that this is a bad thing, but as is it is a fact of life. I also suspect that it would be hard to abolish without risking a system where everyone is payed based on purely formal criteria, e.g. years in the company.

    The last item is particularly interesting, because men* tend to be more aggressive negotiators and are relatively more likely to turn down offers based on money—while increasing the risk of periods of unemployment and rejections. We can now have scenarios where four out of four women are hired at X (in some currency, for some time interval), while out of four more aggressively negotiating men three are hired at 1.1X and the fourth goes unemployed. The women find out that the three men earn more (while being ignorant of or disregarding the fourth), demand a raise with charges of sexual discrimination, and we end up with four women and three men earning 1.1X and one unemployed man… One group takes the high risk road for a higher reward and the other group receives the same reward without taking the risks… (With many variations, e.g., that is possible that everyone would have gotten 1.1X at a given company—but that only the men asked for it. Negotiations are there because the employers want to pay the least amount they can get away with—not because they want to systematically give women less money. I have even been asked outright what the smallest offer was that I would accept…)

    *Here and elsewhere I take is as granted that we speak of group differences, relative probabilities, and so on. That individual variations exists is a given and will not be spelled out.

    The first item (performance) is also of of extreme importance: In software development, my own field of practice, the difference in output and quality can be so large that it would often be easily justifiable to pay the one developer twice as much as the other. (Unfortunately, the decision makers are usually under the very unfortunate misconception that software developers are fungible and differences of that size are far rarer than they should be. Still, that someone earns 10, 20, 0r 30 % more is not automatically a sign of discrimination, skill at negotiation, or any non-performance factor—quite often it is a result of better performance.)

  2. Variations of women-are-not-successful-in-technology-due-to-discrimination.

    The truth is simply this: Men and women have different aptitudes and interests. Men more often end up as e.g. software developers and women as e.g. kindergarten teachers because that matches their natural preferences. Too boot, the women I have encountered so far in software development have only very rarely broken into the top half of the pack; off the top of my head, I recall no single woman who broke into the top quarter. (But I stress that my sample is too small to make statements about the overall population of female developers with certainty.)

    A particularly idiotic example is reporting on Facebook’s diversity program (which I originally encountered in a German news source which just parrots the original without any critical thinking).

    Facebook wants to diversify, but this “has been hampered by a multi-layered hiring process that gives a small committee of high-ranking engineers veto power over promising candidates”. Of course those pesky white men are at it again: “The engineering leaders making the ultimate choices, almost all white or Asian men, often assessed candidates on traditional metrics like where they attended college, whether they had worked at a top tech firm, or whether current Facebook employees could vouch for them”.

    What makes this particularly outrageous is the mention of “white or Asian men” in manner that very obviously is intended to imply that “white or Asian men” is the actual problem. It is not: The criteria used by these “white or Asian men” are sound and justified. The problem here is not the decision making process—it is the lack of suitable candidates. If (!) there is a problem here it is not with Facebook but with earlier stages: Facebook cannot be faulted if too few members of minority groups have gone to Stanford and MIT. This article* makes creating diversity a higher priority than finding the right person for the job at hand—an absurd attempt to create equality of outcome through destroying equality of opportunity. Notably, there is not one shred of proof presented that the decision makers would discriminate based on e.g. ethnicity—but if the lead of the article was followed, they would be forced to do so!

    *There are a number of problems with the article that I will not analyze in detail, but most of them boil down to observing result X and concluding Y without regard for other alternatives. For instance, it is true that using school as a criterion at the last stage of the process, rather than the first stage, is a bad idea—but if school has not been considered appropriately in the earlier stages and the sensible people only have a say in the last stage, well, better late than never. For instance, the claim that promising candidates, cf. above, are filtered out, is unsubstantiated and an explanation of “promising” is not given. For all we know, “promising” could here mean nothing but “is Hispanic, has a bachelor, wants to work here”—which is a long way from “is Hispanic, has a master from MIT with a great GPA, and has ten years of relevant experience”.

    (Not to forget: There is nothing remarkable with these decision makers being “white or Asian men”. Almost certainly this also reflects the suitable candidates in an earlier generation.)

    What has happened here is easy to understand: Facebook started to search for more diversified candidates, put them into the process, and found them being filtered out again, because they were not satisfactory. By analogy, if a fisherman casts his net wider, he will still not get the fish that is small enough to slip through the net.

  3. “Mäns våld mot kvinnor” (“mens’ violence against women”) is a Swedish specialty, but has similar variations in e.g. the U.S. (notably the misconception that domestic violence is committed predominantly by men onto women, which is very far from true).

    Using this specific phrase, feminists has spent decades running a grossly sexist campaign that paints men as serial abusers and women as innocent victims. Violence in the other direction and any other form of violence is strictly ignored. Violence simply is not a problem for these people—except when the perpetrator is a man and the victim a woman. To boot, “Mäns våld mot kvinnor” is painted as gigantic problem, while it in reality is a marginal issue: The vast majority of men do not in any way, shape, or form abuse their women.

    Unfortunately, feminist populism has become such a staple in Swedish mainstream political rhetoric that this type of hate speech and sexist rhetoric is regularly uttered even by high level politicians.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 13, 2017 at 6:11 am

The 2016 Nobel Prizes II: Women and the Nobel Prize

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One of my articles was almost upset by the 2009 unprecedented naming of no less than five female laureates, including a historically very rare Chemistry Prize and a first Economics Prize. I left a corresponding disclaimer that I would revisit some issues if this turned out to be a normal state of affairs.

It did not*: The following year saw not one single female laureate, neither did 2012—and the same applies to this year. 2011 did see three, but they all shared the Peace Prize. The remaining intervening years saw one or two laureates, of which only two came in scientific fields (the 2014 and 2015 Prizes in “Physiology or Medicine” each saw a woman among the three** winners.) The others were all Peace or Literature Prizes.

*Here and elsewhere I draw my numbers from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_Nobel_laureates and http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/women.html.

**The science Prizes are almost always shared, typically between the maximum three laureates allowed per Prize and year. Here and elsewhere, I will assume equal shares for the sake of simplicity and of avoiding leg-work. I do know of at least one historical deviation, however: Curies first Prize was shared in equal halves between the Curies and Henri Becquerel, with Marie and Pierre effectively receiving a quarter each.

Counting in 2016, we have seen a total of 8 female laureates with a total of 4 and 1/6 Prizes in seven years—a little more than one laureate and clearly less than one Prize per year. For comparison, the (admittedly cherry-picked) years 1945–1947 saw three laureates and 1 and 5/6 Prizes for very comparable numbers. 1963–1966 women did almost as well in numbers and scored in both Physics and Chemistry—in the 50 (!) years since, they have scored one Chemistry laureate and not one single Physics laureate.

In other words, there is at this juncture no reason to assume that we have entered a new era, nor that women are being artificially held back, as naive feminists like to claim: That the science awards have seen so little change, or even change for the negative, while Literature and Peace Prizes regularly go to women, is a clear sign that the main underlying reason is one of inherent differences between the sexes in these fields, be it with regard to ability, priorities, interest, or some other factor. How the Literature and Peace Prizes should be interpreted with regard to ability* is very unclear, due to the extreme subjectiveness** and the obvious recurring political agendas behind the awards; however, these are definitely areas where women are more inclined to get involved than in the sciences.

*But, outside of the scope of Nobel Prizes, I do note for the record that several of my own favorite authors have been women.

**Bear in mind that while the sciences can be subjective too, e.g. regarding what discovery is the more important, the problem is far smaller there. If worst comes to worst, almost any result in, say, Physics is something that we can test today or will be able to test in due time. There is no such test for works of fiction and many works lauded by one qualified observer is consider garbage by another. (Including the works of semi-recent Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek—the choice of which caused a dissenting member of the election committee to resign in protest…)

As an aside, I see at least two possible explanations for the anomalous results of 2009: The one is sheer co-incidence, the equivalent of drawing a one-color poker hand. This is unlikely for any given hand, but keep drawing hands and it will eventually happen. The other is that female candidates were given an artificial leg up. In fact, this type of artificial support is extremely common in Sweden, where the drive to have men and women share everything 50–50 can be virtually pathological. Many consider the relatively low number of female laureates a failure of the election committees—or even of the respective field of science it self! They simple fail to understand that this type of award must be about accomplishment, not feeling good; about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 1, 2016 at 9:56 pm

Lack of perspective on men and women in sports

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A very sad example of how easy people lose perspective can be found in a recent debate in Sweden:

In a short time-span male soccer player Anders Svenssonw and female soccer player Therese Sjögranw set new records for most games played in their respective national team. The former was rewarded with a car; the second was not. The predictable Swedish sexism debate started…

What few people considered was that the female soccer players are on a very different level from male players when compared on equal levels of “numerical” accomplishment. Its not just a matter of men being bigger or having other physical advantage—but the competition in and development of women’s soccer is far weaker. Women should have equal pay for equal accomplishment—not for a considerably weaker accomplishment.

For instance, the Swedish Wikipedia page on women’s soccerw:sv claims that women make up 29 % of all Swedish players. In other words, there are more than twice as many male players and the competition for spots on the national team is more than twice as hard. (Factoring in that men tend to be relatively more competitive and women relatively more interested in playing “for the fun of it”, the numbers likely understate the difference on the level of the national team.)

According to the same page, only one in 12 (10 million out of 120 million) players is a woman world-wide. This has at least two important implications: Firstly, women’s soccer is not competitive with men’s soccer even after correcting for physical differences between the sexes. Secondly, the far higher proportion within Sweden puts the successes of the female national team and individual female players in perspective: They are internationally successful because the rest of the world lags in the relative size of the women’s soccer sector—not because they would be truly great players.

However, women’s soccer trails men’s soccer by even more than these numbers imply: Watch a few games and compare the way the play, even natural physical differences aside. To say that there is a difference of one “league” would be extremely kind, even in Sweden two or three could easily be the case—world-wide there is no comparison. In contrast, female tennis players often have a technique and “feel” for the game that is comparable to male players, losing ground through their smaller stature, weaker arms, etc. Conversely, male athletes in sports that are considerably smaller globally than soccer are still more accomplished: In a match-up facilitated by magic, the Swedish national team in bandyw would likely have an easy time against the women’s national soccer team.

To take another perspective: Cars cost money. Which of the two is the better money maker? (And therefore the more reasonably rewarded from an economic point of view.) Comparing individuals could be very tricky; however, if we look at groups we can get at least a good indication. In 2012, the highest Swedish men’s divisionw:sv had a per game average number of visitors of 7210; the highest women’s divisionw:sv just 836.

Very recently, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the world’s most successful soccer players in recent years and the team captain of the Swedish national team, spoke out about this affair, correctly pointing out that women’s soccer is not comparable to men’s and that there is no unfairness in giving only the male player a car. He also correctly points out the absurdity that he is internationally compared to the likes of Messi and Ronaldo but nationally to female players of a far, far lesser calibre.

The result (and what prompted me to write this post): He is attacked from every direction and seen as a sign of how unfairly maligned women’s soccer would be or how much undue prejudice there would be. (Cf. e.g. one of many Swedish news itemse). In the defense of his detractors, he could have formulated himself more diplomatically; however, that does not change the underlying issues or that he is correct in these underlying issues.

This debate points very clearly to some recurring problem with the current Swedish attitude towards “gender issues”:

  1. Actual accomplishment and equality of opportunity is less important than equality of outcome and a highly subjective and extremely superficial take on “fairness”.

  2. There is little will and/or ability to actually think an issue through. Instead reactions are based on emotions, what people want the world to be like (as opposed to how it actually is), simplistic assumptions, …

  3. Criticizing attempts to create or assert pseudo-equality borders on a crime—even when the criticism is objectively justified.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Do you want equality? I hate to break it to you, but you’re a hardcore ANTI-feminist. I swear.

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In the process of cleaning up my tabs (cf. the previous entry), I also re-encountered a particularly annoying blog entrye (and guess whose factual-but-dissenting comment had been censored…):

The post makes a long quote from a feminist work that I will analyze below, and seems to have an exceedingly naive view of what feminism is:

Do you think it’s fair that a guy will make more money doing the same job as you? Does it piss you off and scare you when you find about your friends getting raped? Do you ever feel like shit about your body? Do you ever feel like something is wrong with you because you don’t fit into this bizarre ideal of what girls are supposed to be like?

As has been discussed repeatedly, it is a myth that women earn less than men for equal work. Cf. e.g. [1]. The number of women who are raped is comparatively small—far smaller than feminists like to claim. The perception that a woman has to adhere to a certain ideal and her insecurities about this stem primarily from herself and other women.

Well, my friend, I hate to break it to you, but you’re a hardcore feminist. I swear.

Not at all: Apart from the contextual remarks already given, equal pay is not something feminist (it can even increasingly be seen as anti-feminist); however, the stubborn belief, contrary to evidence, that women earn significantly less than men for equal work is indeed strongly overlapping with feminist opinions. Similarly, an opposition to rape is not feminist—only the distortion of statistics and definitions, and the cheap rhetoric around it. Similarly, again, criticism of e.g. body ideals is not feminism—but the unfair attempts to blame men for them usually are.

Indeed, I would not hesitate to claim that someone who truly wants equal opportunities, rights, responsibilities, whatnot, for the sexes is, by necessity, anti-feminist: Feminism is currently the greatest single threat to this goal—as is abundantly clear to anyone with insight into the situation in Sweden.

For some reason, feminism is seen as super anti: anti-men, anti-sex, anti-sexism, anti-everything. And while some of those antis aren’t bad things, it’s not exactly exciting to get involved in something that’s seen as so consistently negative.

On the contrary, feminism has for a long time benefited from an undeserved reputation as a force of good—including begin “pro-” (most notably pro-equality). That the pendulum is starting to turn is a good thing. (Notwithstanding that the presence of absolute nutcases, e.g. Andrea Dvorkin, has made the proportion of early anti-feminists and those sceptic to feminism in the US greater than in e.g. Sweden.)

As an aside, I have to ask which of the “some of those antis” that “aren’t bad things” are: A plural is indicated, which implies that at least one of “anti-men”, “anti-sex”, and “anti-everything”, would be good. Twisted world-view or lack of writing ability? Experiences with feminists could point to the former, the previous incongruency in the first three sentences quoted point to the latter.

The good news is that feminism isn’t all antis. It’s progressive and – as cheesy as it sounds – it’s about making your life better.

Feminism is severely regressive and destructive. If “your” refers specifically to a woman, the last sentence may be true in theory, but wrong in practice—in the end feminism is likely to do more harm than good to women too. Where men are concerned, even consideration for negative side-effects on men (e.g. from new legislation) is usually absent; attempts to actively improve life for men are as good as unheard of.

As different as we all are, there’s one thing most young women have in common: we’re all brought up to feel like something is wrong with us. We’re too fat. We’re dumb. We’re too smart. We’re not ladylike enough – stop cursing, chewing with your mouth open, speaking your mind. We’re too slutty. We’re not slutty enough.

A pure strawman: Firstly, this is an over-generalization. Secondly, the ones doing the “bringing up” in this direction are typically other women. Thirdly, the claim ignores the many similar issues that men have. Fourthly, this has nothing to do specifically with feminism—feminism is not the white knight in shining armor who will save the poor women from this windmill.

Looking at the comments, it is not an iota better:

(Ellen Smith)

Well, feminism is a strong word but being a feminist doesn’t necessarily mean “man-hater” I think that is a misconception. It’s just about being equal in spite of biological/gender differences…

The implication that feminism would be seen as equaling man-hate is partially a strawman, partially glossing over the fact that disturbingly many feminists have very strong negative feelings about men—when not hate, then at least despise. Further, severe prejudices about what men want, think, do, and what the “male role” is are abundant.

Feminism is not about “being equal in spite of biological/gender differences”. On the contrary, a significant part of the main feminist ideology of today is the stubborn denial of any such differences (outside of mere physical characteristics). Further, the feminist movement has proved again and again that it strives not for equality, but for women’s rights and benefits—even at the cost of equality.

(Caroline Garrod/the blog author resp. text quoter)

I would argue, though, that “feminism” doesn’t have to be a strong word – it can and hopefully one day will be universally perceived as a normal statement, as much as one would say “of course I’m antiracist”.

Again a direct reversal of the actual position of feminism in public perception. Being feminist has been the politically correct and accepted position for several decades—at best/worst, it has been a merely acceptable position; at worst/best, half the college women loudly proclaim themselves to be feminists (usually without having any idea of what modern feminism entails).

The recent growing turn-around is positive and it is to be hoped that one day the claim “of course I’m antifeminist” will be just as normal as “of course I’m antiracist”: Feminism and racism are both destructive ideologies that no enlightened person should support.

(With reservations for “racist” and “anti-racist” being used in their proper meanings. As have been observed repeatedly, this is rarely the case. Cf. e.g. [2].)

The author of the original text, by the way, is Jessica Valenti, whose name I have repeatedly seen associated with anti-male prejudice, blaming of men, and similar. A quick web search found e.g. [3]e and [4]e.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Six feminist myths

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A few days ago, Pär Ström, one of the leading fighters against prejudice and media misreporting in Sweden, published a book titled “Sex feministiska myter” (“Six feminist myths”).

Packed with references, quotes by researchers, statistics, and specific examples, this book makes short shrift of the following myths:

  1. Sex/Gender (“kön”) is a social construct:

    In reality, there is very strong proof of biological sex differences, including genetic differences and variations due to different levels of various hormones (both current and in utero). The effects of these on abilities and preferences are significant within humanity.

    Note: The word “kön” can be translated as either “sex” or “gender”, depending on context. In an English discussion (where there is often a differentiation per definition into biological/sex and non-biological/gender differences), it would make less sense to discuss whether sex/gender is biological, but whether the biological influence is unimportant overall—which is what feminists of the long-debunked “tabula rasa” school like to claim.

  2. Women receive less pay for equal work:

    In reality, there is no discrimination against women to be found when equal work is compared. Differences in raw numbers stem from comparing unequal work (e.g. with regard to working hours, experience levels, field of work). Increasingly, among young people, women have an actual advantage…

  3. Women have it harder making a career:

    In reality, there are no signs of this. Differences in outcomes arise from different life priorities and similar factors. Indeed, there are many examples of anti-man discrimination, where the wish for equal outcomes, even over an age-stratified work-force, forces organisations to give women an unfair leg up—sometimes two…

  4. Men hit women:

    In reality, men are the victims of violence noticeably more often than women. Even specifically domestic violence is a roughly 50–50 issue, with a slight lead of women as the perpetrators and men as the victims.

  5. Women work double (“dubbelarbetar”) in the house-hold and the workplace:

    In reality, men work more than women overall. It is true that women work more in the house-hold; however, men work correspondingly more in the workplace—and then 19 minutes a day.

  6. Women have worse health-care:

    In reality, there are no notable disadvantages for women. On the contrary, there are signs of clear discrimination of men in some areas, including cancer research and treatment.

The recurring reader will not be surprised by any of the above, which has been discussed (in less detail than the book provides) on a number of occasions on this blog and which is the accepted truth among non-partisan specialists in the respective subject areas. (A good starting point for my writings is [1], which also contains a number of later track-backs.)

The book is available free-of-charge (in Swedish) from http://www.dnv.se/mou/feministiska_myter.htme and is discussed by the author under http://genusnytt.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/min-bok-sex-feministiska-myter-slappt/e.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm

“The Male Privilege Checklist” debunked

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Earlier today, I encountered a self-proclaimed Male Privilege Checkliste. I have added a discussion/debunking to my own article on the myth of white male privilege.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm

The “77 cents on the dollar” fraud revisited—Equal Pay Day

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I just came across an article, There Is No Male-Female Wage Gape, on the “Equal Pay Day” fraud—the day were women allegedly have caught up with men’s earnings from the previous year. The claim that women would earn less for equal work has been debunked here previously (cf. [1], [2]) and in many external sources; however, political feminists seem to pay no heed (incidentally giving more proof for my previous post).

The article in a nutshell:

Feminist hand-wringing about the wage gap relies on the assumption that the differences in average earnings stem from discrimination. Thus the mantra that women make only 77% of what men earn for equal work. But even a cursory review of the data proves this assumption false.

A few central points:

  1. Men suffer a higher unemployment rate. (9.3 % to 8.3 % according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics respectively the article.)

  2. Voluntary career choices (e.g. line of work or position sought) have a significant impact.

  3. Men work longer hours than women. (8.75 hours to 8.01 hours for full-time workers.)

  4. The wage gap often goes in the opposite direction nowadays:

    Recent studies have shown that the wage gap shrinks—or even reverses—when relevant factors are taken into account and comparisons are made between men and women in similar circumstances. In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm