Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

>If there is no gender parity, there is a problem.

This seems to be an extraordinary claim made in the complete absence of evidence. Is it a problem that there are more women going into early childhood education or biology, but more men going into petroleum engineering? Why? Why aren't men and women allowed to express their preferences without it being pathologized?




> Why aren't men and women allowed to express their preferences without it being pathologized?

Because those preferences are mostly the result of sexism.

In 1970, there was no law against women being doctors or lawyers in 1970, yet less than 15% of graduates in those professions were women. Many people said the exact same thing you're saying now: oh, these are just natural preferences and aptitudes. Yet today, women make up 50% of graduates in those professions? Did something change in their genetics? Or did those professions just become less sexist?

What the heck explains 50% of accounting graduates being women, but less than 20% of CS graduates? Some weirdly specific gene?


>Because those preferences are mostly the result of sexism

Another extraordinary claim made in the complete absence of evidence.

Are you claiming that men and women don't have different preferences? Are you claiming that Iran, where 70% of engineering students are women, is less sexist than the US?

>Yet today, women make up 50% of graduates in those professions? Did something change in their genetics? Or did those professions just become less sexist?

So medicine, law, education, biology, veterinary science, and chemistry got less sexist, but philosophy, physics, and engineering didn't. That's your claim. That you've made, again, without a shred of evidence.


> So medicine, law, education, biology, veterinary science, and chemistry got less sexist, but philosophy, physics, and engineering didn't. That's your claim. That you've made, again, without a shred of evidence.

Yes that's my claim, and yes there is evidence for it: http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-.... From 1970 to 2005, the proportion of women medical and law graduates went from 50-10% to nearly 50%. The proportion of computer science graduates went from 15% to 35% in 1985 but dropped below 20% in the 2000s.

There are only three possible explanations for that data. (1) certain industries got less sexist while computer science lagged behind; (2) society got less sexist about women going into certain industries; or (3) womens' biological preferences changed dramatically over just a few decades.

(3) is ridiculous, so the answer must be (1) or (2), which are both the product of sexism.


(3) is ridiculous because it's an insane strawman that you set up solely to be ridiculous. You've defined any non-biological change in preferences as sexism. And if that's the definition you want to use, then "sexism" sounds like a perfectly normal and acceptable part of society.

You are claiming that physicists are sexist but biologists are not. You are claiming that philosophers are sexist but doctors are not. This is an incredible claim, that requires incredible evidence. It doesn't pass the sniff test.

Conversely, I'm claiming that as women have become more free to pursue whatever career they want, they have self-selected into certain fields that appeal more to them than others do. This is a very common sense claim. It requires no special pleading or special evidence.


> (3) is ridiculous because it's an insane strawman that you set up solely to be ridiculous.

No, (3) is insane because it implies that biologically-driven preferences can change dramatically in just a few decades.

> You've defined any non-biological change in preferences as sexism.

That's (2), not (3). And I'm not sure what else to call socialization that discourages a particular gender from pursuing a high-reward field like computer science. I'd certainly call it sexism for men to be socialized to avoid well-paying jobs in nursing.

> they have self-selected into certain fields that appeal more to them than others do.

Why do they prefer to forgo a field like computer science or engineering? Is it because it's mathematically intensive and detail oriented? In that case, how do you explain half of all accountants being women? Is it because women care less about making lots of money? But plenty of women go into medicine and law. The "women prefer to forgo a popular, well-paying field" theory only makes sense if you don't bother to ask "why?"

And it's hilarious that you keep criticizing me for not offering evidence, when your whole position seems rooted in "women prefer certain fields, because [???]". Seriously, what goes in that box?


>No, (3) is insane because it implies that biologically-driven preferences can change dramatically in just a few decades.

That's the strawman. You've said either everything is sexism, or everything is biology. Then you've used the fact that clearly biological preferences have not changed in a couple decades to suggest it must therefore be sexism.

Somebody who's apparently a lawyer should be able to recognize how terrible that logic is. So you're either being disingenuous, or you haven't thought to examine your reasoning.

>And it's hilarious that you keep criticizing me for not offering evidence, when your whole position seems rooted in "women prefer certain fields, because [???]". Seriously, what goes in that box?

Your box: sexism, and only sexism.

My box: absolutely everything that goes into people having preferences for things.

Seriously, your reasoning here is atrocious. The null hypothesis is not "there is pervasive social discrimination against women that prevents them from entering this field", and yet that's what you leap to for all explanations for everything.


Right. And I'm all for encouraging more people to get interested in this industry, but I don't do it by pointing my figure at all of the people already working in this industry.


It wouldn't be a problem if inequality wasn't influenced strongly by negative factors for women. The tech industry is rife with evidence of hostility toward women; IT Barbie and gendered toy marketing are other examples of how women are not on equal footing with regards to entering this industry.

And there is also the problem of women being paid less to do the same job.

To paint a picture that says the current landscape is "normal" is to overlook a lot of broken things.



Three articles by the same person from the American Enterprise Institute and then some obvious opinion pieces with restricted sampling sizes.

Imo, the smoking gun should include a gun and it should probably be smoking.


I find it's a really convenient indicator that it's time to excuse yourself from a conversation.


There definitely are many problems and things that could be improved, however, the point is that even if all of those problems would be fixed, there would be a gender disparity in choice of occupations.

The GP statement "If there is no gender parity, there is a problem" is strictly false, even in an ideal world managed by fairies where all these problems are totally fixed, we would not observe gender parity - it would for most professions be much closer to 50/50 than nowadays, that's true, but it would not be at 50/50.


  even if all of those problems would be fixed, there would
  be a gender disparity in choice of occupations.
  ...
  it would for most professions be much closer to 50/50 than
  nowadays, that's true, but it would not be at 50/50.
1. I'm pretty sure reasonable people consider something "close enough" (like 46/54) to be gender parity. I understand that you read the statement as being strictly 50/50 but prose != computer program; maybe read what the GP was trying to say when reading.

2. On what basis are you assuming there would be a gender disparity, all other things being equal? (There isn't.) Can all other things be equal? Probably not perfectly, which is why most would consider "close enough" parity to be a win, but we're certainly not close now.


re: 2, and please forgive the slight necroposting.

That men and women might be biologically predisposed to find certain pursuits more attractive than others should not be controversial.

But even if we cast biology aside, and assume (against all evidence) that differences in preferences are due solely to socialization, is that bad? Is it bad that women feel more drawn to caregiving careers and men to analytical ones? Even if, which I do not for a moment believe, these differences in behaviour and preference were due solely to socialization, so what? As long as people are happy and fulfilled, why would that socialization be a wrong that needs righting?


> and gendered toy marketing

Why don't you go into the toy business with androgynous products and let's see how you do ?


>Is it a problem that there are more women going into early childhood education or biology, but more men going into petroleum engineering?

Don't the petroleum engineers make more money than the average biologist?


Which might explain why men, who are far more motivated by money than women are, would seek to enter the field despite it being a much more difficult degree and arguably less rewarding career.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: