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The Full 10-Page Anti-Diversity Screed Circulating Internally at Google (gizmodo.com)
353 points by akalin 131 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 575 comments



I fail to understand the outrage but attribute that to the fact that few bothered to read the document before allowing themselves to be outraged by it - such is the shallow, feeling-fueled, hysteria-laden media cycle of today.

The doc presents a point-of-view, grounded in reality. Furthermore it's not "anti-diversity", but rather anti-discrimination - specifically 'positive 'discrimination which it discredits while presenting alternative policies that are more inclusive (according to the author) and reflective of inherent psychological differences.

Have I read it wrong? Somebody correct me if I missed the controversial bits.

Edit: OK, it comes off the rails a little at the "Why we’re blind" section but overall it's food for thought (and no doubt a catharsis for many Right-leaning Googlers).

Since when is dialectics grounds for ostracism?


The argument basically proceeds as follows:

1) Gender differences exist

2) ???

3) Differences in representation are explainable by gender differences

The problem with the "???" step is that it's unrigorous handwaving. "Women prefer working with people." Okay, so that's why the majority of accountants are women? That's why STEM fields that don't involve people at all (math, biology) actually have quite a lot of women, while programming doesn't have much women despite being on the social/people-oriented end of the spectrum?

It's not that people are angry about the article's conclusions despite acknowledging the strength of the logical/factual basis. It's that people won't give sloppy reasoning the benefit of the doubt when they don't like the conclusion.


I agree that "???" is unrigorous handwaving. And I don't think it purports to be rigorous; from the document: "Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership." (emphasis mine). "May" and "in part." I don't think this purports to be a proof.

Is this argument any more rigorous?

1. There is a non-50% representation between men and women in tech.

2. Unjust discrimination and societal pressures are the only possible explanation for this imbalance. Therefore we must intervene until it is 50%.

There is no doubt that unjust discrimination and societal pressures exist, and that we should fight these so that anyone with talent and interest can succeed in this field.

However, if 100% of these pressures were removed, would we have exactly 50% representation of men and women in tech? Many people appear to believe very strongly that this is true. What is the basis for this belief? Are we willing to entertain the possibility that, even without these pressures, we would have less than 50% representation of women in tech?


Who says we need 50% women in tech? Has Google released a statement on this? While I have seen some inflammatory articles on the subject I don't know that many woman care if there are 50% woman in tech. I can tell you as a female engineer, I just hope that women know it's open to them and feel comfortable joining the field. I don't care about convincing uninterested people.

Instead here are some of the issues Google seeks to address which seem plenty reasonable to me.

"Our goal is to create an environment in which every Googler can thrive. We check and recheck our people processes (including promotions, compensation, and more) to ensure fairness and equity in all things that impact Googlers. For example, we took action when we saw that women in tech were less likely to self-nominate for promotions. We’ve also long had gender pay equity in our workforce and we recently shared our approach to compensation with the hope that other organizations will adopt similar fair pay practices." https://www.google.com/diversity/at-google.html


Not Google, but there are tech companies out there that set hiring quotas significantly higher than what the CS schools are producing [~20% female for the past 10 years].

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/04/why-is-...

> Well, not quotas. You can’t say quotas. At least not in the United States. In some European countries, like Norway, real, actual quotas—for example, a rule saying that 40 percent of a public company’s board members must be female—have worked well; qualified women have been found and the Earth has continued turning. However, in the U.S., hiring quotas are illegal. “We never use the word quota at Intel,” says Danielle Brown, the company’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. Rather, Intel set extremely firm hiring goals. For 2015, it wanted 40 percent of hires to be female or underrepresented minorities.

> But since it began linking bonuses to diversity hiring, Intel has met or exceeded its goals. In 2015, 43 percent of new hires were women and underrepresented minorities, three percentage points above its target. Last year, it upped its goal to 45 percent of new hires, and met it.

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/diversity/diversity-...

> US female new hires 35%


she now works for google


Fair question; I don't think people often come right out and say it, but I think the assumption underlies many of the things people do say.

For example, from your quote: "For example, we took action when we saw that women in tech were less likely to self-nominate for promotions."

This seems to presume that, in a just world, women would self-nominate at exactly the same rate as men, and that we should intervene until we achieve that world.

I agree 100% with this: "I just hope that women know it's open to them and feel comfortable joining the field. I don't care about convincing uninterested people." I agree with that both for entering the field itself, as well as for other aspects like getting promoted.


> Who says we need 50% women in tech?

Almost every diversity activist: https://twitter.com/sehurlburt/status/894409695057764352


Or, you are able to find at least one on the internet that does.


"Who says we need 50% women in tech?"

Women being underrepresented in tech is usually cited as an example of sexism in the system. The implication is that there needs to be equal representation for there to be no bias.


>However, if 100% of these pressures were removed, would we have exactly 50% representation of men and women in tech? Many people appear to believe very strongly that this is true. What is the basis for this belief?

We could have an even higher percentage of women, like we do in many top-notch classical outfits today. There is some history here I'm qualified to speak about as a woman who took many orchestral auditions in classical music. Most of decision makers in classical back in the day asked exactly what you are asking about tech right now. The results were stark. (see study below) My example is not intended to imply that tech is "the same" as classical music or anything--just pointing out a strong similarity in today's tech interviews to the gender/race-biased audition practices of orchestras in the pre-1970s, when it was believed that women/brown candidates were not as strong/accomplished/technically skilled/artistic/confident as their white European male colleagues. Here is a 1974 NYT article about "the change to screened auditions"; the reporter still felt comfortable calling Asian players "Oriental" at that time.

http://www.nytimes.com/1974/10/15/archives/orchestra-auditio...

The Met Orchestra is considered the overall "best orchestra" in the United States. It is a dream job in terms of pay and quality of music making. By best, I mean that winning a job at the met is like being a star player in the majors, more so than in any other orchestra. The Met's auditions are considered by classical players to be the most impartial, although they are still partial. They are the blindest, anyway, in terms of using a screen, if players can make it past the tape round. (that is another issue altogether for another time) Today, more than half of the NY Phil and 50% of the Met orchestra players are women, due to blinder audition practices. Still, most orchestras remove the screen after the first or second round today. (?) I believe the MET waits until the finals to remove the screen. (I didn't make it to the finals, but it is what I hear from players who have)

I believe that tech could learn a great deal from classical music's hiring practice innovations of the 1970s and 80s. Today, most US Orchestras are comprised of at least 50% women, up from none or just a couple in the 1970s. Today, St. Louis is majority female. If anyone in tech is interested, they could dig into this study published in The American Economic Review

http://www.academicroom.com/article/orchestrating-impartiali...


I had come across that study/story before, and consider it one of the great successes in combating discrimination that I have ever heard!

Blinding the auditions is brilliant, because it isn't a "bias for bias" approach. It doesn't attempt to combat one bias by intentionally introducing another bias. It just removes the jury's ability to be biased, by concealing the musician's sex.

Because of this, the results of that study are nearly unimpeachable. It's basically a perfect approach. If tech could do anything comparable to that, I would be 100% in favor.


I believe they could! With all that technology? Shoot. All we had was a stage and a screen to work with. I will say that in another study it was found that the sound of women's dress shoes unconsciously biased juries. So we all (even men) walk to the stage on a carpet strip to mute that sound, or we play in stocking feet or soft shoes. Taking the screen away at the end is its only flaw. I will say something that a lot of non musicians may not realize, though. If you know a player (we all have known one another from childhood, in many cases) you can pick him/her out of 100 players just like you recognize someone's voice on the phone. So, there is always that bias. So, not 100% perfect, but better. If the conductor/principal player knows you and likes you...it helps...a lot.(and they are fairly likely to know you, at least) It doesn't matter what instrument they are playing either. I could recognize any player's playing I know by their kazoo playing, just like you can instantly hear the difference between Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Players whose playing is nondescript don't make it to the level of taking an orchestral audition, even poorly. I'm curious, is code at the highest levels the same? I'm not an accomplished enough programmer to know this. That would be an interesting difference between coding and playing music, but I suspect you could recognize a great programmer's coding style.

Why aren't there totally blind coding interviews? I just don't get it! The science (I've read but can't remember the source now- if you know it, please share) says that in-person interviews are not helpful in helping to identify successful candidates, and are often harmful.


You might find this interesting, then. A company that does remote technical interviews as a service tried altering the pitches of interview candidates' voices through software, so they could change whether they sounded male or female, and looked at the effect it had on how the interviewers judged their performance.

http://blog.interviewing.io/we-built-voice-modulation-to-mas...

"After running the experiment, we ended up with some rather surprising results. Contrary to what we expected (and probably contrary to what you expected as well!), masking gender had no effect on interview performance with respect to any of the scoring criteria (would advance to next round, technical ability, problem solving ability). If anything, we started to notice some trends in the opposite direction of what we expected: for technical ability, it appeared that men who were modulated to sound like women did a bit better than unmodulated men and that women who were modulated to sound like men did a bit worse than unmodulated women. Though these trends weren’t statistically significant, I am mentioning them because they were unexpected..."


Yes, thank you for brining this up, sincerely. I'd read about this too. Even though it isn't statistically significant, it is a fascinating result. This study should be performed again while collecting more precise data on a bigger swath of engineers.


I can't speak to anything related to interviewing because I don't do interviews. Part of the reason I don't do interviews is because I have very low confidence in my ability to quickly tell who is good. Most of my colleagues that I respect the most (I work at Google) didn't make a strong impression on me when I first met them, or even within a few days. I feel like it takes days or weeks for me to get a sense of how much I like someone's work. So I definitely feel unsatisfied with the interviewing approach in general, but I don't have any practical ideas about how to improve it. "Work with someone for days or weeks first" isn't practical.

I get your point that there still could be biases if you can recognize a musician's sound. I should have been more clear about what I meant by "perfect". What I meant is just that this intervention (adding screens to auditions) almost certainly didn't create any bias, it only removed it. It may not have removed 100% of it, but it didn't combat the bias by introducing a counter-bias.

Can you recognize a coder's work by their style? Definitely to some extent. One aspect of working on a shared code-base with a whole bunch of engineers is that uniformity of style is a significant plus (makes code easier to read when it's consistent), so many of the differences that might show a "personal flare" are removed. But still, there is plenty that could belie a person's coding style.

I think there are way too many programmers out there, however, for this to be an issue in interviews. Estimates say there are something like 2-4 million software engineers in the US. Compare this with orchestral musicians: it looks like about 60 orchestras in the US work 40+ weeks per year; if we estimate 100 players per orchestra this is 6,000 full-time orchestra spots in the USA (you might have better numbers on this). If you specialize this by instrument, it might be more like 240 full-time orchestral oboists in the whole country. It seems much more likely that you could recognize a specific person with those odds.

(By the way, I'm a musician too. :) Though not in the orchestral world, and not full-time. I'm a singer (small ensembles mainly), though I did a lot of collaborations with orchestras as a boy growing up in Boychoir).


Hey, thanks for responding with such interesting information! I had a friend audition for a swe job at Google. (very very small sample size, I know) They had a wonderful audition experience, even though they didn't get the job.

I understood/agree with you about how you spoke about our audition removing bias without introducing a counter-bias. There is no way to be perfect here, but the orchestras who implement this screened protocol are some of the top 10 in the country, and are respected throughout classical music for making the best attempts to be fair. (most orchestras do a sloppier version of the screen, and small orchestras don't bother) After I got wise to it, I only took "top 10" auditions for this reason, because the process is an expensive burden on the player.

You are right-ish about the numbers of players in circulation. This is an interesting point about why we or our colleagues know who is playing behind the screen: 1. we know who's at the audition. 2. At any given point, there are around 20-30 of us in the group of around 200-250 per instrument (who might all show up to a top 10-er) who are "in it to win it" at a top-ten audition. We all play gigs together often or went to school with one another. So the group we are selecting from is very small. Still, I believe we each could do it out of 100 players. It would be instructive to test this. I only mentioned it because it is interesting and most people don't realize this. (people are surprised when a musician can identify who is playing on a Mozart Concerto recording within a few bars at parties, but it isn't a trick-- your ear gets trained to recognize people in that way.)

I only asked about recognizing someone by their code because there is a scene in Silicon Valley where Dinesh "falls in love" with the code of Guilfoyle, without knowing it's his. I thought that was hilarious, but unlikely, since the characters code together every day. Your comment taught me something about how teams work together on code. I'd say it is like the "house style" of a newspaper.

I agree that it would be unlikely for anyone to recognize someone's code in a blind coding interview due to the numbers of engineers out there. Very interesting comment. Thank you! Cool that you are a singer and can keep it up.


>>We could have an even higher percentage of women, like we do in many top-notch classical outfits today.

There is a difference between succeeding in difficult tasks and succeeding at tasks that are seeing very high growth in overall accumulation of knowledge.

In high growth areas its not easy to make it big without working insane hours. Or return to regular practice after long breaks.

To me tech will will see near equal representation over time. As our trade becomes normal like any other. Of course that will mean the high intensity action will move onto else where.


Can you clarify what you mean here? (not trying to be cheeky, but I'm just not grasping) What is the difference between a difficult task and a task that sees high growth in accumulation of knowledge? In terms of the classical orchestral musician/swe analogy I don't see what you are driving at.

>In high growth areas its not easy to make it big without working insane hours.

In classical music (and jazz etc.), you can't succeed at even a prosaic task such as winning an orchestra audition without working life-destroying hours. From age 10(or earlier, really) to age 40+, most classical musicians who "succeed" practice alone at least 4hrs a day, and rehearse, perform (and teach, when they are older) another another 4-6 hrs per day. There really isn't room for anything but this in their lives. That is the info I can offer to help w understanding this half of what you are saying. I think I didn't realize that this was not widely known. Coming from this life, it is easy to lose perspective on what is generally understood.


The difference is between usable and reusable knowledge.

If every few years you have to throw away a good part of what your learned and redo it, taking big breaks becomes very hard.

You can do this in music because you start exactly where you stopped. In programming we haven't yet reached a state where knowledge of tools, frameworks and ecosystem can remain the same for years. Things change pretty rapidly here.


It may surprise you to know that musicians can't take even a few months' long break without suffering professionally. Remaining in shape for an audition only lasts until the last few days before that particular audition. If you stop practicing for a few months, it takes at least that long to get back into shape. It is a lot like a professional sport that way. Illnesses are career killers, for example. Also, we have new repertoire coming in all the time by new composers-- whole new concertos to learn, new techniques to be hip to, new gear to learn... I can understand that it might look somehow different from the outside, but this is why a musician can't keep doing auditons forever. First, it is expensive and we don't get corporate sponsors like athletes do. It depends on perfect health, and many can't afford to maintain that without a benefactor. It also takes up every minute of your life to stay audition ready for job auditions and jobs themselves--no one can sustain that kind of mental,physical, and psychological stress for too long. But, while we can, men and women seem to handle these pressures equally well.


There's a level of navel gazing in large swathes of the startup community that assumes that no one else works as hard or needs as much knowledge.


The difference is that we know that unjust discrimination and social pressure exist; we know it was historically very bad; and we have a concrete theory of causation. With the biological explanation there is no theory of causation.


We have theories for why DNA makes men and women's bodies different, and how society can create power structures and discrimination.

But you claim we have no possible theory for how DNA could make men and women's minds different, or that society could create differences in how much genuine interest women have in tech?

We don't really know why some people are straight and some people are gay. Does this mean we deny that gay people exist? My father is gay and his identical twin is straight. How did this happen? According to Wikipedia, studies have shown this trend often enough to conclude that genetics alone can't explain sexuality. So do we just argue that there really is no difference between gay and straight people (ie. it's a choice), because we don't understand the precise reason for the difference?


> ...and we have a concrete theory of causation. With the biological explanation there is no theory of causation.

Even if your description of the situation is accurate, just because there's a theory on one side and none on the other does not remotely imply that theory is automatically correct and should be acted upon.


> we know it was historically very bad

For the people living in those historic eras. We don't know the effects it has on people living in the modern era.

And then you have to make the leap on why tech companies should be enacting social justice in the first place. They're not the guardians of society. Social justice is inflammatory and hiring is basically a zero sum game because "diversity" doesn't affect head count (other than for the liberal arts majors and recruiters who have made careers out of the diversity issue)


Strawman


The argument basically proceeds as follows:

1) Gender differences exist

2) ???

3) Differences in representation are explainable by gender differences

Really? I read it as

1) Gender differences exist

2) Differences in representation may be at least partly due to gender differences.

3) Differences in representation should not be taken as automatic proof of bias.


> The problem with the "???" step is that it's unrigorous handwaving.

Probably because nobody actually knows right now what actually causes the differences and how. The case that is caused exclusively by entrenched sexism - somehow driven by people graduating from the same institutions who have been fighting sexism for decades now, and by the same people who repudiate and denounce sexism on every corner - also does not sound very convincing. Sexists, of course, do exist, so does sexism, but presenting it as sole driver and concluding any deviation from 50% or whatever the population demographics would be is the ironclad indicator for sexism is as "unrigorous handwaving" as the opposite extreme.


Read what Rayiner wrote more carefully. Computer science is unique among STEM fields --- even mathematics --- in its gender imbalance. The "???" here has a name: it's called "special pleading".

It's not hard to see why people would get angry at a special pleading intended to excuse gender disparities.


The article is objecting to special pleading in a different direction. In other words, there's another train of thought:

1) Sexism exists

2) ???

3) Differences in representation are explainable by sexism

I think the original article was making a more nuanced argument allowing for an interconnected set of factors explaining the gender imbalance.


For differences in representation to be explainable by something other than sexism --- which has been rampant in other fields, in particular medicine and law, in the past and then enduringly corrected --- you'd need to establish either that CS is somehow fundamentally different from every other hard science, virtually all of which see better (usually: much better) gender parity than CS does.

In other words: you'll need to demonstrate either that it's somehow harder to write the 900th instance of the same SQL query than it is to understand supersingular curve isogenies, or that somehow we've acculturated people to believe it's OK for women to nerd out about supersingular curve isogenies but not about SQL queries.

Neither argument makes any sense. Virtually all of what software developers do, even the hyperqualified developers working at Google, is less intellectually challenging than real hard science work, and if anything it's become far more socially acceptable to work in computer fields than to be a hard scientist.

We're in Occam's Razor country here, so the charge that concern over sexism is itself "special pleading" isn't going to stick.


I feel you are misrepresenting the male/female balance of various disciplines.

Here are male/female distributions of bachelor degrees across many majors. Few of these sit right at 50%:

http://www.randalolson.com/2014/06/14/percentage-of-bachelor...

Are you arguing that every field that doesn't sit right at 50% is sexist against the underrepresented gender?

(I don't dispute that sexism in tech exists. I just dispute the expectation that representation will always be equal absent sexism.)


Writing the 900th SQL query is not hard science, it's engineering. And every engineering discipline, to my knowledge, has a large gender gap in participation. So, it is not necessary to "establish either that CS is somehow fundamentally different from every other hard science".

As I've pointed out before, that shortcut doesn't work.

If we just look at the higher level computer science your jobs, then again we will see that in the most comparable field, mathematics, women underparticiate something like 30-70.

If we ignore all that and pretend working with computers is uniquely bad for women judged against comparable careers, can we start calling out the enablers yet?

Well, bad news, there's another hurdle to jump, which is that female participation in computing is inversely related to a country's ranking on gender equality tables. I've yet to see that stubborn fact integrated successfully into the argument. It is mostly just ignored.

And that's off the top of my head. There are probably more. It's a complicated question to answer. So you must demonstrate at least familiarity with the obvious hurdles before questioning the moral worth of the people who disagree with you.


> CS is somehow fundamentally different from every other hard science,

Well the obvious difference is that CS is not a science at all. It's really more akin to engineering, which AFAIK has a similar gender imbalance.


Much of CS is more similar to economics, accounting, statistics etc. than engineering. Making a statistical model is generally much closer to CS than making the hull for a boat.


Yes, and you can see the "pleading" get more and more "special" as people, confronted with the numerical evidence, make more and more elaborate excuses for how software is different from other sciences. "It's like Lego", they'll say, "and boys play with Lego more than girls". Well, isn't that Just So?


75% of Bachelors degrees in Psychology are awarded to women, and almost 70% of active working Psychologists are female. Does it follow that Psychology is sexist against men?

Is is possible that two things are true? That (1) there is sexism in tech that must be addressed, and (2) even if women felt welcome in tech, the composition of tech could be <50% women?


You're just waiting for someone to roll out this trope. The answer is: yes, it's problematic that there are so few male psychologists, just as it is extremely problematic that there are so few male nurses.


Why is it problematic? Why does every field of endeavor have to be exactly 50/50? I'm honestly asking, because I don't believe that at all.


In the case of nursing, which is the most popular incarnation of the trope, what it also means is that our first line of health care in the United States are doctors, who are expensive and scarce. "Nurses", who really ought to be called "Associate Doctors" or something similar, do a far better job at handling that job. But the (gendered!) lower status of "nursing" both keeps us from expanding the corps of Nurses-Practitioners as far as we could, and also retards acceptance of NP's as an alternative to full MDs for routine care.


Your labeling of my argument as a "trope" is unnecessary and dismissive. If we are talking tropes, pretty much nothing is more trope-y right now than the cycle of outrage and virtue signaling that is sure to follow any push-back against the current orthodoxy of social justice. It's so predictable you can set your watch to it (witness: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/08/06...). So please, spare me the attitude.

I can believe that a switch to NP's as the go-to for routine care might be a good idea. But even if that is the case, you're making a very different argument here. I wonder if you notice the difference. You're arguing that more men in nursing might be beneficial for customers, not that men are being kept out of nursing by sexism.

I believe the same is probably true of tech (that more women in tech is better for customers), if for no other reason than something like half of customers are women.

But these two arguments are very different in their moral implications. When you argue that sexism is keeping women out of tech, this is fuel for the outrage machine of moral indignation, like the Washington Post article above. It is evidence that he industry is wronging its female employees and potential female employees. It is cause to criticize the industry as sick and oppressive (which it certainly is in some cases, most notably Uber).

So I think that this criticism is well warranted in many cases. The question is: where are the goalposts? Is the industry sick and oppressive towards women until it hits 50% representation? I don't think that's a fair expectation.


You asked a question. I answered it directly and civilly. You responded with a bunch of slurs. If you're wondering why the discussion stopped here, now you know.


That's not accurate at all. You took a dismissive tone with me right off the bat, and labeled my good-faith argument as a "trope", twice. Also, my "slurs" were directed at a Washington Post article, not at you. Exit the discussion if you like, but I don't think you get to plead the moral high ground on this.


> The question is: where are the goalposts? Is the industry sick and oppressive towards women until it hits 50% representation? I don't think that's a fair expectation.

It's hard to find a benign reason why the percentage of women CS majors would halve in the last 30 years while the profession as such has become more attractive.

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-...


One possible benign reason: as society has gotten more free and open to women's choices, their preferences have been revealed. (Note that this also may explain why there are more female computer programmers in Iran than in, say, Finland. Women are more free to do what they want to do in Finland.)

Now, look, this explanation may be wrong, but, no, it's not hard to imagine alternate explanations. Nice and neat conclusions in the social sciences are hard to come by. Anybody in this thread claiming that they know exactly which explanations are the right ones is full of shit.


I don't agree that this is a benign reason in itself. Regardless if you say that women don't want to be programmers now or that women never wanted to be programmers, you have to find a good reason why they don't want to. Because women have no problem sitting in front of computers in economics, so why do they in software?

I don't think it is hard to find a good reason why someone wouldn't go into nursing (even if this wouldn't disprove sexism in nursing). It has barriers to entry by requiring formal education, which can be competitive. The working conditions are somewhat difficult having to work irregular hours and be exposed to emotional stress as in seeing people dying. At the same time it still relatively low status, not necessarily well paid and has limited career prospects.

Of course you can argue that this shouldn't be the case. That the profession should help people dealing with stress and have good working conditions etc. Still it much harder to imagine these sort of "hard" reasons, negative things that are inherent to the profession, when it comes to programming.


Is Math is a science?


Ok, we're in presence of solid research finding a) similar sex differences in toy preferences in monkeys as in human children, and b) sex differences visible within 2 days after birth (references here : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...)

As you justly said, we're in Occam's razor country. So, do you think the 2 observations above are more easily explained by socialization, or biology ?


So basically here's what I see:

One side points out that gender parity is overwhelmingly better in other STEM fields, that in modern science those fields are all themselves largely defined by software and technology, that there's a clear history of women being excluded from other professions, and that those professions later and enduringly corrected those problems, and that gender parity in CS has sharply decreased over time.

The other side has something to say about monkeys.


Citations much needed for your first point, please. What I see is a list of male and female dominated fields which is a near perfect fit for what theory would predict.

I'm sorry you feel the need to trivialize my point about monkeys. Unfortunately, evidence is going to keep rubbing you the wrong way, you're going to love this new thread :

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14942022

“At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. ... After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles … I changed my mind.”

Why? There was too much data pointing to the biological basis of sex-based cognitive differences to ignore, Halpern says. For one thing, the animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people. These findings continue to accrue. In a study of 34 rhesus monkeys, for example, males strongly preferred toys with wheels over plush toys, whereas females found plush toys likable. It would be tough to argue that the monkeys’ parents bought them sex-typed toys or that simian society encourages its male offspring to play more with trucks. A much more recent study established that boys and girls 9 to 17 months old — an age when children show few if any signs of recognizing either their own or other children’s sex — nonetheless show marked differences in their preference for stereotypically male versus stereotypically female toys.

Halpern and others have cataloged plenty of human behavioral differences. “These findings have all been replicated,” she says. "


This is a whole lot of words all of which are derived from monkey studies. I think it sounds like I'm being snarky when I say that, but, no, I'm not: literally, this is an attempt to reason the 82/18% CS split from the behaviors of monkeys.

You understand, right, that my side of this argument doesn't have to predict any part of human society from the behavior of monkeys? That all my argument requires me to be able to do is count?


The whole reason monkeys even enter the picture is because the society currently unfairly favors a hypothesis that it's all due to socialization, and not at all due to biology. Any study that attempts to show biological aspects only results in the supposed socialization event resulting in the difference being pushed earlier in the development.

The studies showing that female infants are more interested in looking at pictures of faces, while male infants are more interested in looking at pictures of mechanical toys wasn't enough, so researchers are one upping and studying monkeys. It does not help though, I heard from someone saying this in good faith that the sex differences in toy preferences in monkeys are due to societal norms in monkey groups.

At this point I'm seriously starting to consider the socialization hypothesis (which is obviously true to some degree, i.e. socialization plays a huge role in the observed sex differences) to be unscientific, that is, unfalsifiable.


These people never want to acknowledge the fact that programming used to be near-universally "women's work", right up until dudes decided it was cool and stole it from us. CS admissions used to be more than 40% women!

renaudg 130 days ago [flagged]

Please tell us the name of the dude who "stole" all of your girlfriends' neatly-prepared CS college applications and forced them into psychology, sociology and art history instead. Sounds like some kind of dark patriarchy superhero I'd like to meet (he still didn't manage to steal the spot of the most talented computer scientist amongst my friends, who is a woman)

Actually, there must be a similar female superhero stealing all of the boys' medical school applications as well (and overall college applications, which are majority female)

Or... could this all be the result of decades of encouraging young people to follow their heart when thinking careers ?

People, Occam's razor please.


Would you please post civilly and substantively or not at all?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


And? How do you get from the existence of those differences to observed differences in representation? That's a huge conceptual leap.


So you reasoning is going like this:

1. There is problem X

2. Possible cause of problem X is the reason Y

3. In fields where we are sure reason Y is rampant, we have successfully solved problem X by attacking instances of Y

4. In the field F, we have had no comparable success doing the same, despite all efforts.

5. Therefore, it is obvious that reason Y is much worse in F than everywhere and we should double and triple and quintuple our efforts there, until there is success. Since we reached success in other fields, it is stupid to assume we can't do the same here.

Do you see a problem with this chain of thought? If not, let me apply this logic to another model:

1. Cough is frequently caused by bacterial infections.

2. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections with much success in many cases

3. In patient P, antibiotics did not lead to any improvement of his cough.

4. Obviously, we need to double, triple and quintuple antibiotics doses until P is finally healed.

I hope you realize here that maybe P has a viral infection instead, or maybe he needs to stop smoking, or maybe he has another one of the hundred of causes of cough there could be.

>you'll need to demonstrate either that it's somehow harder to write the 900th instance of the same SQL query than it is to understand supersingular curve isogenies,

What you mean by "harder"? Is it harder to lift 600lbs than to give birth to a baby? Why do you assume that the question is about "harder" and not, for example, "more pleasurable" or "more intellectually satisfying"? Maybe SQL queries just bore prospective biologists to tears?

BTW, among composers the gender balance is even worse. Is it harder to write a symphony than to decode human genome? What metrics would you use to compare them?

Maybe instead treating everything as a nail we should try and consider some alternative hypotheses than "CS and musicians hate women"? It might be more efficient than force-feeding antibiotics to somebody who does't have bacterial infection.


by the way, not sure if you are correct about composers. You are definitely correct about composers who are featured and given public prizes. In music school, there seemed to be an equal number of women composition students. All the composing professors were men, with one or two exceptions in certain places in the United States. The decision-makers were always men, ultimately. But that is changing today, just like it is slowly changing with conductors. The rank and file had to show it in great numbers first. Mozart's sister was by all accounts a better pianist and violinist than her brother and an exceptional composer. Still she was shoved into manual labor while he was promoted. Clara Schumann may have written some of Schumann's stuff. I do sometimes wonder about Nabokov "not being able to type" and Vera's role in "his" writing. There are countless stories like this in the arts, with the works showing suspicious authorship. It would be interesting to mount a probing investigation into these matter to mine the real data, don't you think?


You know that many professors don't actually do a lot of the nitty-gritty work, don't you? They farm that out to their grad students. So in theory all someone has to do is get a PhD and get hired as an academic.

What's worrying is I know a couple PhDs - in STEM - that were granted when they probably shouldn't have been. One lacked any originality, and the other was basically incomprehensible.


> ...other fields, in particular medicine and law

Women were literally not allowed to be doctors or lawyers, either by law or by certification boards. Programming has never been a field requiring certification.


There was persistent and powerful bias against women in medicine and the law long after women were officially allowed into the field. The fields themselves did things to correct these problems.


At least in law that's not true. There were licensed women lawyers long before it became common for women to be in the profession.


I was referring to when women were disallowed from law schools or bar associations. But there's a bit of nuance to the history of it. Women have been in court in different ways for a long time.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awlaw3/women_lawyers.htm...


Women were allowed into the bar long before hiring them was routine. The New York bar admitted its first women in 1886. But it was in the 1970s (as a result of a class action lawsuit) that firms were forced to routinely hire women attorneys. Today, half of associates in large law firms are women. That's the legacy of affirmative action programs. The change turned out to be self-sustaining, even after the programs were removed.


My point was that the history of the tech sector and the history of the legal profession are not similar. Hopefully that's very clear at this point.


And his argument is that in this one sense they are, except that computing professions haven't yet taken the corrective steps medicine and the law have. The evidence seems to strongly support his argument.


You can isolate sexism by taking action to remove it. Then you can measure the change. Then you will have the answer to ???.

You can not remove the biological factors. So they're a dead end.

Too me, it sounds more like people claim we have nowadays removed sexism, that Google has none, and others disagree, that they are still there, while not as strongly maybe, and until they are fully addressed, we can't tell if the system is fair to biology or not.


> Computer science is unique among STEM fields --- even mathematics --- in its gender imbalance.

"In mathematics, just 15 percent of tenure-track positions are held by women, one of the lowest percentages among the sciences, along with computer science (18 percent), and engineering (14 percent)."

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/11/math-wom...


If you're saying claiming "CS is special and current gender balance is 100% explained by that" is unsatisfactory, I agree with you. But retorting along the lines "CS is especially uniquely sexist and current gender balance is 100% explained by that" is equally unsatisfactory, and double so when it's served with the side of "and if you disagree you're a bigot and you're fired".


No, it isn't unique among STEM fields in its gender imbalance. Engineering is more imbalanced.


Well, overall, the share of women in computer sciences has been decreasing for the past years, but it didn't use to be like that. Up until the mid-80s the share was in line with (or higher) than other study areas.

NPR talks a bit about the subject, including how personal computers were initially marketed at young men. It's a good read.

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-...


I find it a bit hard to believe marketing of computers alone explains such spectacular drop in one specific area - was physics or chemistry marketed to girls in 80s? Also, how exactly marketing for boys made half of the girls drop the field - as opposed to no marketing? That sounds like too big an effect. Also, one of the ads (other one is unreachable) shows both boys and girls behind the computer and a woman leading the computer class (BTW, famous Apple 1984 ad also featured a woman in a role clearly meant to be associated with the product). How that alone should cause half of the girls to go away? True, nerd usually meant boy. But wasn't it true for physics or chemistry or biology or many other things too? I mean, to identify the key factor you need to do two things a) find that the factor is present when the effect is present (parents buy computers more for boys) and b) find that the effect is not present when the factor is not present (parents do not buy more chemistry sets, physics books, math books, etc. for boys than for girls). I don't see the second part was done. Without it, I think the link can not be established.


Perhaps because it used to be (or be perceived) more like a science back then?


> "Women prefer working with people."

IMO the biggest counter-example of the "women are better at working with people / soft skill" theory is politics.

Politics is all about who you know, who has your back, how you can get people to do what you want (the voters, other party members), how you can get people to like you, can you predict when someone's going to stab you in the back? can you predict when to stab someone else in the back? Should you support person X? What will person/group X think if you support person Y/policy Y? It's all about soft skills, it's all about reading people, it's all about working people.

You don't need maths or logic, or numbers,or rationality, or science for politics. I'm sure we all know how bad many polticians are at science/STEM.

If these theory were true, you'd expect women dominate politics in the same way men dominate tech. But that's not what you see at all. Advocates for the "women are better at soft skills, and worse at numbers" need to explain this glaring counter-example. The other theory, of institutionalised sexism against women, fits observable reality better.


Politics at the national level is made up of outliers, like sports people and actors. It's entirely possible that women are better at politics but not better than this 0.01% of people at politics, especially considering that men deviate from the norm more often.


What about local politics? Surely that's dominated by women? What about the politics of a social club, a trade union, or similar groups? Are they all dominated by women? (Answer: No).

I'm not sure how you can merge the two theories that "Women are just better at people skills" and "Women aren't better than the best". The whole thesis is claiming that women are as naturally superior at people skills as men are naturally good at tech/STEM. Google is supposed to hire the best, and it's >50% men, so why isn't something that "hires the best" (in politics) still <20% women (e.g. US Congress).


The politics of social clubs and small organizations very often are dominated by women. It's just that these groups are often very gendered, and so if you're a male and don't make a conscious effort to cross gender stereotypes in your hobbies, you'd never know they exist.

I remember my time in the Harry Potter fandom, which is ~99% female. Boy, was there politics. I can remember some truly epic [1][2] incidents of Internet drama all driven by people seeking social status through any means of manipulation possible.

[1] https://fanlore.org/wiki/The_Ms.Scribe_Story:_An_Unauthorize...

[2] https://fanlore.org/wiki/Victoria_Bitter_Wank#Further_Readin...


But what about the non-gendered "political" things, like trad unions, local political party organisations, universities, other non-gendered clubs, if women are really better at people skills, shouldn't them be dominating those areas in the same way men are dominating STEM? Can you find a group which, at the low levels is about 50:50, and yet women dominate the political/organisational level?

How much counter-examples can you ignore before you say well maybe this "women are good at people skills, men are good at STEM". It seems like people really think "well men are better at basically everything"


Most of those are gendered, but they're gendered in ways that are the "default" for society (i.e. masculine) and so you don't notice them. Traditional unions and local political parties, for example, represent industries and civic institutions that have historically been populated with men only.

In industries that actually are 50/50 or majority female, you do see a number of women in top leadership positions. For example, the president of the national teacher's union is a woman [1], as are the three co-presidents of the national nurse's union [2], as is my alma mater's (which only went co-ed in 1974) college president [3].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randi_Weingarten

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Nurses_United

[3] https://www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/president


It's a pretty drastic oversimplification to say "women have better people skills" but there are definitely personality differences between men and women [1]. (I don't know why this comes as a surprise to anyone)

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3149680/


I've seen this article referenced a few times now. It's worth noting that the standard deviation between is more pronounced in western countries and even then more geographically pronounced in eastern states like New York, West Virginia, Mississippi..etc, and less pronounced in western regions like Utah, Colorado, Oregon..etc. The differences are there, but the deviation is minimal if not negligible in many parts of the world.


When people see a tech company that's 90% male, they say "Oh well, men and women are different, that's the explaination."

So where are the places which are 90% women? Why isn't politics 90% women. Instead it's about ~20% and that's after years of campaigning & activism.


Nursing, teaching. I'm sure there are others, especially if you look at industries and not companies, HR for instance.


Dental hygienists (98%), Occupational therapists (92%), nurses (~92%)[1].

[1] https://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/occ_gender_share_em_1020_txt.ht...


Women in general used to have better cooking skills than men, but the majority of chefs were male and are still male.

Here's a UK survey of chefs: http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/People/Survey-finds-imbalanc...


A lot of the popular fashion designers are men too.

It's almost like there's some sort of social factors which will ensure men get to the top!


>The problem with the "???" step is that it's unrigorous handwaving.

The problem with the "???" is it's not in its proper place in the chain of logic. The syllogism instead goes:

1) Do we observe certain traits cause individuals to tend toward science, while others cause them to trend toward the humanities?

Yes. Whether or not you will enter the humanities or the sciences is correlated with whether you display a higher empathizing quotient ("preferring to work with people") vs. systematizing quotient ("preferring to work with things/numbers"), regardless of your gender.

2) Do we observe these traits vary by gender?

Also yes. Men generally have higher systematizing quotients, while women have higher empathizing quotients.

[source for both points: http://www.somersetcanyons.com/ourpages/auto/2016/3/11/48638...]

3) Therefore, some amount of difference in representation logically comes from differences in these gendered traits - whatever might have caused them to become gendered in the first place.

>Okay, so that's why the majority of accountants are women? That's why STEM fields that don't involve people at all (math, biology) actually have quite a lot of women, while programming doesn't have much women despite being on the social/people-oriented end of the spectrum?

Women represent over 60% of all undergrad university students, so we should expect fields that require an undergrad university degree to be a majority women barring other factors. Yet math, physics, chemistry, earth science, statistics, engineering - every one of them has fewer women than it should proportionately. Even biology, which for a brief time had a higher proportion of women than 60%, recently dipped back below that point. [graph: https://www.aps.org/programs/education/statistics/upload/Deg...]

Conversely, here is a list of majors that have consistently had above 80% female proportions:

Fashion Design, Interior Design, Education, Social Work, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Art History

The specifics of why one given STEM major is more under-represented than another is an interesting question, but it shouldn't obscure the overarching trend - whether by a little or a lot, all the STEM majors have fewer women than they should. The data does indeed support the idea women prefer people-oriented professions over thing oriented professions on average.


No one is talking about "stigma" as a deterrent to study. Still not many men in "spin class" or pilates in NYC, although that is changing for the better too. If you see the community as excluding people like you, you may be less inclined to enter it. For example, there are fewer women Italian chefs and waiters. But from whom did they lean to cook?


When I graduated in 1986 a third of my class were women. Something has driven them away from programming.


The competition isn't much better. There are hundreds of these massive leaps of logic used to justify the use of race and gender in hiring. Basically every reason for why the demographics of tech is the way it is this oversight.

At the core of diversity hiring (which corporations have spent billions of dollars on), the benefits of racial and gender diversity in a workforce have never been proven.


Assuming 1) is a true premise and 2) ??? is some black box function, it's hard to reason in any way that 3) is not true to some extent. When you change the input, you would expect the output to change unless you can somehow argue that ??? is f(x) = C. You can say step 2) is egregious handwaving, but as long as you cannot prove f(x) is a constant, 3) is true.


There is bad with the good. The suggestion that men and women ARE different is taboo. The premise that the differences between them are social as opposed to literal is a much easier way to force the same point (and IMO more correct but I respect I lack the science to be certain). This person lacks tact and the way they view the entire political sphere as just left/right is ultimately of concern. Way too simplistic outlook IMO.


Yeah. I was willing to give him a fair hearing until he listed a handful of differences between men and women that he ascribes to biology without any factual support.

And therein lies the unconscious bias against which he is railing. To him, there is no question that men and women, on average, are fundamentally different in ways that affects their ability to and interest in work in tech.

I agree with him that folks shame those his viewpoint into silence. I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing.


There are actually a few studies showing gender differences in infants and monkeys. (males preferentially looking at/interacting with mechanical things, females faces/dolls) From that, you can assume that there are at least some biological differences in behavior between the sexes - and thus differing workplace representation is not necessarily 100% derived from social pressures. And if that's the case, achieving a 50/50 Female/Male split in every profession might not be desirable.

So I must agree with the author on his assertion that men and women are mentally different. I'm not sure that those differences would cause women to be less interested in CS, but it isn't quite as unsupported a position as you'd think.

EDIT: There's also the possibility that IQ variances differ between genders - with males having higher variability - and thus more males at the upper (and lower!) ends of the range. If CS attracts primarily high IQ individuals, that would also result in a gender gap. (this is what I'd assume he meant with the reference to IQ in "Why we're blind") https://sci-hub.cc/10.1016/j.intell.2006.09.003


> males preferentially looking at/interacting with mechanical things, females faces/dolls

Then why are most politicians male?

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it can be used to support almost any status quo because there's no obvious connecting line between childhood preference for "mechanical things" and STEM career preference later on. In particular, modern software development is highly collaborative and involves no "mechanical" parts at all. It's often closer to prose than mechanical engineering - focused on structure and organization rather than numbers and analysis. Not to mention the plethora of counter-examples in the form of "technical" degrees and careers where women are closer to 50%: http://www.onwie.ca/resources-tools/statistics/canadian-engi...


Because politicians require hyper-competitiveness to reach the top of the political hierarchy. Unfortunately most women would be considered far too agreeable, or conversely gender stereotypes portray females as being out-of-character (bossy) pursuing such cut-throat roles.


I suspect the amount of hatred against the German chancellor Merkel I can hear in casual conversations here in Italy (by males and females equally) is mostly to be attributed to her being perceived as bossy just because she's a woman. An equally bossy man would be normal


Yes.

Another example, I have read research that ADHD might not necessarily be less common in women, just under diagnosed. A little boy running around the classroom and talking to everyone is potentially referred to a doctor for ADHD. A little girl running around the room talking to everyone is considered "social."


Bingo.


IQ variance might explain part of the difference in nobel prize winners, but is minuscule at average IQ in tech (~90th percentile).


Yet Marie Curie was the first person to receive two prizes. In fact, she was the only person who received two science Nobel prizes for 61 years.


That really doesn't invalidate the statistical argument. She was one person.

A better counter-argument would have been to focus on how historically women have been actively and passively discouraged from entering the sciences at practically every level of education. This more clearly has a causal role with Nobel rates and likely played a large role in the disparity.


"...The mental test applied was the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB),..."

Well, ok, then.

"Males have only a marginal advantage in mean levels of g (less than 7% of a standard deviation) from the ASVAB and AFQT, but substantially greater variance. Among the top 2% AFQT scores, there were almost twice as many males as females. These differences could provide a partial basis for sex differences in intellectual eminence."

Now if we only knew the AFQT scores for, say, computer programmers. Oh, wait, we kinda do (http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/asvab/asvab-and-ai...).

Air Force-wise, Electronic signals intelligence requires a G72, Cyber Systems Operations and Cyber Security requires G64. The ASVAB score is a percentile,

"Thus, an AFQT score of 90 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 90% of the nationally-representative sample of 18 to 23 year old youth. An AFQT score of 50 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 50% of the nationally-representative sample." (http://official-asvab.com/understand_coun.htm)

So being smarter than 65-70% allows you into those jobs.

(I am, by the way, loving Fig. 1. If I'm reading this right, "Auto and shop information" is a better predictor of g than "General science" knowledge.

"Participants were administered the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) which has 10 subtests: science, arithmetic, word knowledge, para- graph comprehension, numerical operations, coding speed, auto and shop information, mathematics knowl- edge, mechanical comprehension, and electronics infor- mation."

Yeah, that's the ASVAB I remember.

"Four of the subtests comprise the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) which includes only the more general, less vocationally-specific tests: arithme- tic, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, and mathematics knowledge."

Well, at least intelligence, as defined, is less vocationally specific.

Aha! Table 1!

Someone please correct my understanding here if I've missed anything.

The male mean AFQT89 score was 38.7, the female mean was 38.2. The standard deviations were 30.1 and 27.7, respectively. (Wait, what?) The male-female standard deviation ratio was 1.09.

So those are the kinds of numbers we're talking about.


Genuine question: is is possible some selection bias is at play if only people interested in that given career will undergo this testing?


There are all kinds of biases involved, but the ASVAB has been normalized against a (the?) general population of high school students.

I think that the ASVAB was designed as a job-choice tool is more of a problem than that it was designed as a military job-choice tool.


The SAT was shown to be a flawed test in that it is racially, gender, and income-level biased. I'd be interested to look into the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery with a keen eye to bias. I have to say that anything designed by/for the armed services makes me suspicious of bias for obvious reasons. I will see if I can find any studies on this-- would be good to know.

Found something about gender bias on this test:

"However, many widely used standardized test scores - ranging from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and beyond - also reflect substantial differences based on gender. Minority females suffer a double jeopardy as they often score lower than both white females and males of their own racial or ethnic group. Nonetheless, the law regarding both gender issues and combined gender and race issues is largely undeveloped. Only one lawsuit, Sharif v New York State Education Department, " has been brought to challenge any use of a standardized test on the grounds of gender bias. Legal scholars have only recently begun to devote attention to this issue and have focused on Sharif. 2 Virtually no attention has been focused on the particular issues raised in connection with minority girls and women."

This is from a paper published in 2013 in Berkeley's Journal of Gender, Law, and Science. http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?arti...


Jumping from a few studies about infants and monkeys to "...you can assume that there are at least some biological differences in behavior between the sexes - and thus differing workplace representation is not necessarily 100% derived from social pressures." is far, far from enough evidence and extremely hand-wavy to make a scientific argument here.


There isn't really a leap. All I'm saying is that we have evidence for some gender differences that are rooted in biology, and thus we cannot assume that other differences have no biological component. Which is what asserting that 100% of a gender gap is caused by social pressures does.


It's very convenient to hand-wave away the problem as "biological differences". Until we have some direct link between biology and preference for software development I think the wiser course of action is to try to get more women interested in the field. I mean why not? That's not to mention that open discrimination against women in numerous fields is a thing that happened within the lifetimes of people that are still alive today. It seems foolish to think that's all been fixed already.


> I mean why not?

Why not have a broad-based program to appeal to all demographics? Black Americans are also underrepresented. Rural children have less access to certain kinds of resources like magnet STEM schools.


> I was willing to give him a fair hearing until he listed a handful of differences between men and women that he ascribes to biology without any factual support.

You've been punked, Gizmodo journalism at its finest!

Kate Conger withheld the factual support so that to a not-careful reader it looks like the original poster just makes stuff up.

ctrl + f: "Two charts and several hyperlinks are also omitted."

Note the passive sentence construction. If only she had written truthfully, "I omitted two charts and several hyperlinks"…


I'm missing something, but how are those two statements different. I read the first sentence "gizmodo omitted two charts and hyperlinks" my assumption was the charts and hyperlinks held company data or pointed to company websites. But how does changing the sentence to "I omitted..." Change anything? It did you assume the omission was done by someone outside of gizmodo?


I think he's suggesting that the removed charts and links were the evidence in question, and that the author purposely removed them to make the documents arguments look weaker/less supported.


Have you seen the charts and hyperlinks? I was quite puzzled that they would be left out.


Here's an article that provides some factual support for the author's viewpoint, with commentary (this was featured on HN a few weeks ago): https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...


Having personally experience the effects of different levels of testosterone I find it hard to believe any claim of the differences between men and woman at the population level not at least in part being biological.


There is a long way between claiming there are no biological differences between men and women (of course there are), and the specific claims of differences in the article (which are remarkably specific and tailored to areas of male behaviour the author clearly valorises, e.g. status driven = good, empathy = bad).


I did not get "status driven = good, empathy = bad" from the article.

In his section titled "Men's Higher Drive for Status", the author suggests that status-driven is bad:

"We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

"Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths."

And then in a footnote:

"Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power."


> I was willing to give him a fair hearing until he listed a handful of differences between men and women that he ascribes to biology without any factual support.

That's not exactly true. Jordan Peterson has quite a bit to say about science and the humanities, grounded quite heavily in science. The language is so similar to Peterson's lectures, I'm confident that it was crafted after a shallow dive into his Toronto/Harvard materials.


FWIW, it's not clear if the original writeup includes links to sources backing his claims.

FTA: The text of the post is reproduced in full below, with some minor formatting modifications. Two charts and several hyperlinks are also omitted.


> The suggestion that men and women ARE different is taboo.

Is it taboo? Or is it just taboo in this context?

The premise is also shared by some arguments for trangender rights -- that gender identity is involuntary and biological at least to some degree.


I think anything that tries to brush 50% with a hue that isn't literal biological fact is tenuous and gets people's backs up.

e.g.

> Men are more violent than women.

I mean that's somewhat factual (i.e. considering crime rates) but the very mention of the phrase is tinged with ulterior motive so it becomes taboo. Basically you're better off sticking to literal difference, avoiding sociologically and focusing on differences being social or cultural because then you won't piss off up to 50% of people and people are more likely listen to you.

e.g.

> The way we bring up men and the societal pressures placed upon them makes them more violent than women.

I think less people are gonna be mad about that and then you can use it as a stepping stone to make whatever point this was your platform for. Sure it might actually be less _correct_ then the other way of putting it (I don't know the science precisely enough to judge either way) but that's taboo for ya. Unless you're writing specific science about the biological differences between men and women it doesn't matter that you made the same point differently.


Well it does make a difference when you're talking about the countermeasures that society (or in this case a private company) should adopt to fix the problem. If you claim that the cause for male violence lies solely in the upbringing you might in the best case waste a lot of resources in the worst case cause a lot of psychological suffering so common in all our attempts to "fix" the "wrong" behaviour of kids (left-handed, homosexual, ...).


> The suggestion that men and women ARE different is taboo.

This is the assumption being made by diversity hiring and diversity advocates. That some races/genders have different perspectives and viewpoints than others.

It can quickly follow that some of these viewpoints may make a person more or less fit for certain careers.


The difficulty is whether those differences are biological, social or cultural. Its hard to tease those differences apart with our current tools.

I'll stick with the assumption that its the latter two just because its more convenient and diplomatic. Maybe the genetic data we mine in future generations will give us the real answers but I don't see any advantage in pressing the biological argument until then (as I'm not working directly in that field).


We don't need to wait for genetic data mining, this has been widely studied already.

Differences are visible within the first two days of birth : https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222673203_Sex_Diffe...

and are present in monkeys too : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/

I'll let you draw the conclusion.


Table 2: Mean percent looking times (and standard deviation) for each stimulus.

                          Face                    Mobile
    Males (n = 44)      45.6 (23.5)             51.9 (23.3)
    Females (n = 58)    49.4 (20.8)             40.6 (25.0)
That's quite a difference to be hanging the nature of society on.


Yes but to speculate that a baby's desire to look at a face more means they're less able to negotiate their pay is a bit of a leap (as opposed to that being social or cultural). Sure there are literal differences between gender but one still has to ask that if those differences are big enough to make a difference following the YEARS of nurture or not.

I'll wait till the genetic data mining transitions this from speculation to fact thank you very much.


It's perfectly all right to say that there are statistical differences between the average biological man and the average biological woman.

The problem is to then assume a gigantic pile of facts not in evidence (that the differences observed are 100% biological with no cultural influence whatsoever, that they conclusively explain gender disparities in many fields, etc. etc.) and accuse anyone who disagrees with you of being one of those terrible mean lefties who will unperson you for speaking the truth.

Generally, this type of person lasts up until the moment blind interviews become widespread.


that the differences observed are 100% biological with no cultural influence whatsoever

From what I've seen it's exactly the opposite; any suggestion that differences might be less than 100% cultural marks you as a hateful racist misogynist. See Charles Murray for example.

Generally, this type of person lasts up until the moment blind interviews become widespread.

It actually is possible that someone might have the intellectual capacity to work at Google without being a progressive leftist.


All available evidence strongly suggests that Charles Murray is in fact a racist†, so this isn't a good example. What you instead want to say is that there's limited tolerance for the "diversity viewpoint" that "whites" and Asians are intellectually superior to "blacks".

There's an intellectually coherent argument to be made that our society is intolerant towards inquiries supporting racism. (It's not a good argument, but it will hold together logically).

There are fewer good arguments that people are hyperventilating about what Charles Murray represents.

You can quibble with the terminology; if you believe "being tarred as a racist is even worse than being oppressed because of your race", you're welcome to replace "racist" with "racial supremacist".


I realize this is getting off topic, but can you explain why you think that, "All available evidence strongly suggests that Charles Murray is in fact a racist"? I've read The Bell Curve and listened to a debate where Murray argued in favor of universal basic income. I came away from both thinking that he's been totally misrepresented.

I just reviewed my notes for The Bell Curve to make sure I hadn't mis-remembered the content. Out of 22 chapters, two are on race. One begins with, "The first thing to remember is that the differences among individuals are far greater than the differences between groups." In other words: knowing someone's race tells you nothing about their intelligence.

The chapters on race contain no expression of racial superiority or inferiority, nor any policies favoring discrimination. The only definition of racism that could apply is the view that there are some statistical differences between races, though the book doesn't weigh-in on how much is caused by genes vs environment. It also reiterates that these statistical differences cannot be used to infer anything about individuals.

Supporting racism (in the sense of advocating for racial superiority or discrimination) is deeply unethical, so I'd very much like to know if Murray holds such views.


> "All available evidence strongly suggests that Charles Murray is in fact a racist"?

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/07/why-is-charles-murray...

> A far more illuminating piece of evidence about the Murray racial worldview is found in his little-read 2003 book Human Accomplishment, the text that substantiates point 2 on the above List Of Racist Charles Murray Beliefs: Black cultural achievements are almost negligible.

> Human Accomplishment shows that Murray has a long obsession with racial difference, and with using statistics to prove the lesser intellectual gifts of black people.

> How, in a book that is literally about people’s greater and lesser reasoning capacities, and that literally claims black people are less endowed with such capacities, can you harken back to Jefferson, leaving his racial views unmentioned, and then act shocked when people think you’re a racist? How can you not be a racist? How is there any way?

etc. etc.


First of all, are Murray's claims true? That's the important question. That article gets some things right, but it seems to imply that Murray is racist even if his beliefs are true.

Second, if you're going to use that article's definition of racism (the belief that there are statistical differences in IQ between races) then most researchers on cognition are racist. If you survey experts anonymously, the majority will say that there is an IQ gap and that genes are a significant contributor.[1]

Critics keep smuggling in the assumption that intelligence is proportional to moral worth. Murray explicitly denies this, and claims that all humans should be given equal moral worth (and equal moral agency).

1. http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/wp-content/uploads/2013-survey-o...


You seem to have missed the thrust of the article which isn't that The Bell Curve proves Murray to be a racist (although it certainly has him winking strongly in that direction) but that his other book, "Human Accomplishment" is flagrantly and defiantly racist.

> A far more illuminating piece of evidence about the Murray racial worldview is found in his little-read 2003 book Human Accomplishment, the text that substantiates point 2 on the above List Of Racist Charles Murray Beliefs: Black cultural achievements are almost negligible.

> And what do you know, shockingly enough, out of hundreds of significant figures in Western music, there are almost no black people on the list. (Duke Ellington makes it.) Now, remember, this is a list of the objectively highest human accomplishments in music, and it doesn’t cut off until 1950.

> Do I have to explain why Murray’s framework is racist? Because Charles Murray thinks classical English composers were rooted in human experience and had intellectual depth (which we know, because they showed up more in the encyclopedias he picked), while black American composers (for that is what they are) were not.

etc.etc.


I hadn't read this piece before, and it's quite good. Thank you!


The SPLC is not a reliable source, but I think what they have to say about Charles Murray checks out.


I found https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/indi... but:

- It reads like a hit piece, in that it states facts that are technically true but designed to mislead. For example: It says "Murray advocates the total elimination of the welfare state" but neglects to mention that he wants to replace it with universal basic income.

- The SPLC accuses Murray of using "tainted sources" in The Bell Curve, but the vast majority of the data was from early cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The "tainted source" is apparently Richard Lynn, discoverer of the Flynn effect. Anyone doing any intelligence research is going to depend on Lynn's research, and anyone doing such research in the early 90's is going to use his data. This accusation can be made even if Murray had come to opposite conclusions in The Bell Curve. Sadly, Lynn seems to have gone batty since his days as a researcher. Still, that shouldn't affect the truth value of the data he collected before his decline.

- Many of the accusations are guilt by association, such as condemning Murray for taking money from the Pioneer Fund. Apparently, the fund was started by a proponent of 1930's-era eugenics. As Murray has pointed out, the Pioneer Fund of today is nothing like its original incarnation.

- The SPLC piece never mentions The Bell Curve's conclusion that east asians tend to have higher IQs than whites. It's hard to label Murray a white supremacist when he thinks whites are not supreme.

All-in-all, I have difficulty believing the SPLC's piece on Murray. I don't have the time to vet every accusation, but the ones I have looked into seem without merit. Moreover: Every time I've given the SPLC the benefit of the doubt, they've let me down. Their hatchet jobs of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz have completely destroyed my trust in them.


If, as you've just admitted, the SPLC is not reliable, why do you think it checks out?


What's hard about this for you to understand?


>"The first thing to remember is that the differences among individuals are far greater than the differences between groups."

All this means is that there is some degree of overlap between the two curves; that not every member of group A is more intelligent than every member of group B. Which is trivially true; even the most virulent racists would agree without hesitation that Clarence Thomas is more intelligent than a mentally disabled white person.

The height differences among Filipinos is greater than the difference in average height between Filipinos and the Dutch. Yet we can still say that on average Dutch people are taller than Filipinos, and understand that the underrepresentation of Filipinos in fields that select for height is not the result of societal oppression.


If you want to reduce white supremacy to basic statistics, you can do that, but as intellectual three-card Monte games go, this isn't a very good one: it's pretty easy to see the trick.

If you believe that, in the aggregate, "white" people are intellectually superior to any other race of people, you're a white supremacist. That's not a value judgement; it's literally what it means to be a white supremacist. I guess you could be a mild, benevolent white supremacist? I can grant you that all white supremacists do not wear hoods and burn crosses?


> If you believe that, in the aggregate, "white" people are intellectually superior to any other race of people, you're a white supremacist.

Good, then we can agree that all these people who believe that Asians are smarter than whites aren't white supremacists.


This is unfair. You want to call people white supremacists based on the literal, objective content of their views, i.e. using the phrase in a narrow, technical sense, while knowing full well that calling someone a white supremacist will rally behind you a whole train of people who are happy to free-associate all sorts of horrible things with the phrase.


You think it's unfair for me to call people who believe in the objective supremacy of one race over another "supremacists", simply because people have very dim opinions of racial supremacists?


I just want to make the syllogism you're operating with clear here:

1. If two groups have statistical differences in IQ across the population, then the group with the higher average is superior to the other

2. Person A believes that Group 1 has a higher average IQ than Group 2

3. Therefore, Person A is a Group 1 supremecist

I would want to very strongly and categorically denounce point #1 in this list.

Point #2 is just a matter of scientific observation. I don't have strong opinions on it one way or the other. But point #2 only implies #3 if you believe #1.


Handwaving.

Literally the only reason the topic of "statistical differences in IQ across the population" comes up on this site is as a defense for why there's a microscopic population of African Americans and Latinos in our industry. The reason, the logic goes, is that the supposed racial IQ differences mean that there simply aren't enough African Americans intellectually qualified for the field.

There are plenty of reasons why a cohort of US persons of African descent could have lower recorded IQ scores than US persons of European descent. I'm not the one making the logical leap that the reason is a genetic disposition towards lower intelligence, rather than socioeconomic, environmental, or methodological issues. The white supremacists are the ones saying that†. If you're not, and you're not bringing the topic up unbidden as a defense of the status quo, I'm not saying anything about you.

I'm not interested in pretending that there's a good or rational kind of white supremacist. Several people on this site, and this thread, seem determined to do so. You can, too, and I won't stop you, but "good kind" or "bad kind" I'm going to call them what they are.

(much to the consternation of some of the best-known people doing the actual science)


Before Scott Alexander started http://slatestarcodex.com/, he wrote this post http://squid314.livejournal.com/323694.html:

> I declare the Worst Argument In The World to be this: "If we can apply an emotionally charged word to something, we must judge it exactly the same as a typical instance of that emotionally charged word."

Scott's post is full of examples, many of which I'm sure you'll agree are bad arguments. You are using this tactic with the term "white supremacy". Please note that doing so undermines your position and makes it clear to others that you are not arguing in good faith.

I try to behave such that if someone who held opposite views used the same norms, we wouldn't end up feeling contempt for one another. This means interpreting charitably, trying to understand why people believe what they believe, and avoiding snark and sarcasm. Most importantly, it means not misrepresenting other people's views. Throughout this thread, you have reliably failed at all of these things.

Could you imagine how two tptaceks with opposite views would behave? I'm convinced they would never get beyond name-calling and strawmanning. Both would feel certain in their cause and vindicated by their opponent's behavior. Worst of all, neither's beliefs would get closer to the truth.

Please, for the love of all that is good, be more charitable.


There are clearly people on this thread who think that it's possible to believe in the supremacy of white people over black people without all the ugly baggage of "white supremacy".

I. Don't. Care. I don't care if a white supremacist believes that Asians might be superior to whites. I don't care if a white supremacist thinks anyone who would wear a hood and burn a cross belongs in jail. These things simply don't matter to me.

Like I said: you are free to believe in the "good kind" of white supremacist. I don't differentiate.


'There are clearly people on this thread who think that it's possible to believe in the supremacy of white people over black people without all the ugly baggage of "white supremacy".'

No. There are clearly people on this thread who don't believe that statistical population differences tell us anything about supremacy.

Were we to throw off all the baggage of the entire phrase, the word "supremacy" still has an ordinary meaning in ordinary English. A statement about population differences is plainly not a statement about "authority, power, or status."

The only person in this thread who has argued that population differences imply supremacy is you. Over and over again. This is your word. I don't know how else to tell you that I don't even support your premise.

If you were anyone else, I would already have stopped arguing with you. But you are a person of authority in this space. Your tactics here are dangerous. I'm begging you to consider that.


I don't know whether you're writing normatively about positions you actually hold or descriptively about the positions of others, which makes it very difficult to engage what you're saying directly; everything has to be written through a layer of indirection.

So let me just come out and ask: on the matter of race and intellect, what is it you believe? Can you be specific about those beliefs in the context of American "white", black, and Asian people?


Recall that this entire subthread is the result of your claims about Murray. I am not an expert in the field, so I don't have strong opinions about the competing explanations for group differences in IQ. What I'm fighting against/for isn't any particular claim about intelligence, but rather your framing of one particular claim.†

I do strongly hold the position that a genetic explanation, should one exist, says absolutely nada about policy, "supremacy," how we should treat each other, or really anything else. I also strongly believe that a good faith inquiry into this question (and acceptance of whatever the science reveals) is a pursuit orthogonal to "white supremacy. This is so obvious to me that I feel silly even rebutting it.

Again, I'm not advancing one particular explanation for group differences. I'm opposing your treatment of the implications of one of those possible explanations.

Further, as I stated elsewhere in this thread, the statement "white people are smarter than black people" as a summary of population differences is statistically and biologically illiterate. This way of talking about these issues is unscientific and obfuscatory and it has no place in serious conversations on this topic.

My personal opinion, as a non-expert, is that the differences are probably explained by a complicated mix of factors, but that genetics likely play some role. If this seems wishy-washy, it's because it is. I'm including this footnote only to avoid the accusation that I'm dodging your question. My opinions here aren't worth much. Frankly, I doubt yours are, either, unless you've got a second career you haven't mentioned in your profile.


I'm sorry, you'll have to forgive me, but I'm still in the dark as to what it is you actually believe. Help me understand the difference you see between observations about population aggregates in studies versus observations about "races".


You want to lump (a) people who simply think, as a technical opinion, that there are population statistical differences with (b) people who desperately want an excuse to cleanse society of black people. They are not the same thing, and to pretend they are is to oversimplify truth in order to make a virtuous statement.

Some people argue that this is a good thing to do, but if you do this you can't complain about the phrase "virtue signaling," as someone prioritizing virtue over accuracy.


I'm sorry, but if you're still in the dark about what I believe, then I think you're willfully so. I have to be honest: I didn't really think you were arguing in good faith in the beginning, but I was hopeful that you might be brought into a reasonable back-and-forth.

I no longer believe that's possible.

Edit: Just to make this explicit: I don't have any eccentric or unorthodox views about the differences between "races." I haven't advanced any such views here, nor do I hold them privately. tptacek's implication, of course -- and this happens in every single one of these conversations -- is that I'm concealing some detestable opinion about race. That's why there's always this persistent pleading to clarify what you actually believe. I've stated quite clearly what it is that I believe. No more or less. If I haven't been clear, then we'll just have to attribute that to my failings as a communicator and call it a day.


That is a strange response to a straightforward question, but I can't say I'm unhappy to see this weird little thread die here.


What do you want? How is '''the differences are probably explained by a complicated mix of factors, but that genetics likely play some role''' '''a genetic explanation, should one exist, says absolutely nada about policy, "supremacy," how we should treat each other, or really anything else. I also strongly believe that a good faith inquiry into this question (and acceptance of whatever the science reveals) is a pursuit orthogonal to "white supremacy"''' unclear?

Fact: IQ results differ by race, even though 'races' are a badly-defined concept. Fact: Socioeconomic factors are a lot of this. Postulation: There might maybe be a genetic factor somewhere. Assertion: This doesn't justify treating people differently by race.

What is unclear? What do you object to? You seem to find the idea that there might be any, miniscule genetic factor to intelligence that is more or less common in a specific 'race' as equal to white supremacy. Am I misreading you?

(And note I didn't say anything about which way genetic factors might go. If they exist they might be opposite the socioeconomic factors, who knows.)


How can there be a genetic difference between genetically invalid (badly defined as you say) concepts? I.e. the concept of race is completely social, there is nothing genetic about it (a person commenting on HN is well withing education threshold to be expected to know this). Yet you allow that someone who believes there might still be genetic factors "somewhere" in these differences is not a (closet) racist ... because they don't call for mass murder and insist the supposedly slightly inferior group should "not be discriminated" (just calling them genetically dumber is enough)?

I would want to very strongly and categorically denounce point #1 in this list.

Well stated and I fully agree.


It's weird to claim you're simply using a technical term to categorize someone's views, but then choose such a charged phrase. Edit: rethought comment


The term is charged for a reason. If a white supremacist feels bad that they're being compared to Richard Spencer, I think they should do some soul searching.

There's a solid argument to be made that the quiet white supremacists do far more damage than the cartoon characters do.


"White supremacy" as a movement, as a phrase in common usage, and as a matter of common sense, implies a whole host of beliefs and policy desires that aren't held or sought by Charles Murray or his defenders.

Not holding those beliefs doesn't render you a "benevolent supremacist;" it means, very plainly (and using ordinary definitions of ordinary words) that you're not a supremecist.

It is plainly misleading and obfuscatory to apply that term to anyone investigating population differences in good faith.

Perhaps you mean to say that all such investigations are evidence of nefarious motives? I think that's wrong, but it's at least a coherent worldview.


  If you believe that, in the aggregate, "white" people are 
  intellectually superior to any other race of people, 
  you're a white supremacist.
Were the 52 professors who signed Mainstream Science on Intelligence in 1994 white supremacists?① Is the APA a white supremacist organization?② If so, with 117,000 members, it would be by far the biggest white supremacist organization in the US.

Thomas, I understand that this is an emotionally charged topic, and you want to attack Damore's argument from all possible angles, but group differences in intelligence has been settled science for many decades, and misrepresenting the facts is not exactly making us look good. It's a long-running conservative meme that people who are interested in promoting equality ignore science for ideological reasons, and this is, you know... exactly that.

Group differences in intelligence are obviously bad, and they seem to be narrowing over time by Flynn effect actions, but they do actually exist. Saying that anyone who measures a difference between groups is literally promoting the supremacy of the white race is pretty wild. What measured difference makes you a white supremacist? 10 IQ points? 0.1? If you measure a difference of 0.000001 IQ points, should you instantly lose your job for being A Racist, as you've argued elsewhere?③

===

①: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainstream_Science_on_Intellig...

②: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence:_Knowns_and_Unkno...

③: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14953843


>If you believe that, in the aggregate, "white" people are intellectually superior to any other race of people, you're a white supremacist. That's not a value judgement; it's literally what it means to be a white supremacist.

Is this 'any' as in 'a single group' or 'all other groups'?

Either way it's not true. You can think a race has better average X without thinking it's superior. A dedicated white supremacist will take a list of advantages that are supposedly inherent to non-white people and make a just-so argument about how that actually makes them inferior.

Edit: If you downvoted, please tell me where you disagree, I'm very curious.


"You can think a race has better average X without thinking it's superior."

Ironically, what this argument tends to reveal is the degree to which the upper crust fetishizes intelligence and believes in the primacy of IQ as the measure of the person. Google practically invented the big, scary interview process that proves you're smart enough to belong.

Is it any surprise that the winners of that genetic lottery believe in the supremacy of that measure?

And once accepted as an organizing principle, you really, really need to believe that there are no statistical differences between groups, because to discover them would, by the original logic, entail grotesque conclusions.

I can only imagine the dissonance this must generate.


This is more or less the response Curtis Yarvin gives when his racism, which seems (if you can hack your way through his prose) virulent, is challenged. To paraphrase:

"I'm not saying black people are worse than white people. I'm saying that white people are smarter than black people, and that our society is biased against those who aren't as smart as white people. Oh, the unfairness of it all".

I have no idea who you are or of this is what you mean; you're just an abstraction to me, a nick on this site I have no association with whatsoever and will presumably soon forget about. But if you're interested (you responded to me upthread), it might be useful to you to know how this kind of logic comes across to me.


"Society is biased against black people" is a perfectly accurate statement, so I'm not sure what that is supposed to show.

Can't you make an objectively-true equivalent statement about height? People with certain ethnicities are taller. Taller people are treated better. It's unfair.

It doesn't seem like the way that logic is constructed reveals any racism. Just the premise of "X are smarter than Y" is the problem. Kind of begging the question.


I have no idea who that guy is or why I'm being asked to defend him, so I'll speak only for myself when saying that the statement, "white people are smarter than black people" as a summary of population differences is statistically and biologically illiterate.

This is just simply not how serious people talk about populations.

Further, to conclude that such differences, should they even exist, imply anything else about the world (or how to treat the people in it) is morally incomprehensible.


I didn't read dionidium's post as an endorsement of the chain of logic, or of the fetishization of intelligence by the upper crust, at all. In fact, quite the opposite.

I don't know who you are either, but this comment comes across as rather harsh and over the top,


Except he didn't say that the differences we observe are 100% due to biology. I'm actually pretty shocked at how much of this thread seems to deliberately mischaracterize what he wrote.


Agreed. If anything, he was objecting to begging the question in the other direction. Most of the particulars are examples of nuances that (the author thinks) need to be studied instead of ignored.


> Except he didn't say that the differences we observe are 100% due to biology.

He did, if he didn't intend to he used the wrong language. He had a section called:

> Personality Differences

Where to his credit he did say: "on average" but then he failed to distinguish these differences as cultural or social. Rather he prefixed that part of the article with a section that stated:

> On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed....

I don't know how to read that otherwise. My understanding is that he IS saying that biologically women (on average) are less able to negotiate pay, prefer social work to STEM, etc. Now while those are perfectly fine things to consider stating them as fact is a bit of a leap. You have to prefix your work to make it less assertion and more speculation for people not to assume what I assumed.


You have to consider that Gizmodo has acknowledged having stripped the essay of several hyperlinks, probably lending support to his claims.

This comprehensive recap could be one of them : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...


Yes but that's still the soft science of sociology and the author of the OP should tread carefully before asserting this as literal fact. It remains a conclusion of incomplete results. Obviously better than complete speculation but still no stronger than the technology used by the culture this OP is rallying against.


It's arguably the culture that the OP is rallying against which relies on the "soft science of sociology" as a theoretical basis.

The OP's point on the other hand finds most of its supporting evidence in evolutionary psychology and biology.


He did mention that he is not denying diversity is important or that sexism exists. And the biological differences he mentioned are "POSSIBLE non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech".

His entire argument seems to be that we should stop denying biological differences exist too. And a non 50% representation is not conclusive proof of sexism in society.


How in the world did you determine that "on average differences" means 100% explanation? Full disclosure, I work in supply chain and statistics is part (maybe most) of what I do so maybe I'm being pedantic.


Blind interviews is a good idea that I think could/should satisfy parties on both sides. I mean it's really putting your ideas to the test. And either way you can take some comfort knowing that, if properly set up, the process will be fair. Now the correlation between a good interview and doing well on the job is another issue altogether.


May or may not be completely relevant, but seems like it's in the ballpark: a couple of months ago, a conference sponsored by GitHub was postponed because the authors of all the (blind) selected papers were male.

HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14480868

Reddit discussion: https://www.reddit.com/r/javascript/comments/6f8u2s/githubs_...


Yes, I can attest to this too, harkening back to the classical orchestral auditions. This is why every player is put on probation for 6 months to a year. Their colleagues then vote them into the orchestra or they get voted out. This is the part that is about how they actually do their job. Getting voted out is pretty rare, but I have known a few people who have been voted out of top ten orchestras after the probation period. I can't tell you how tragic it is for everyone involved, especially the players who vote them out, because every single player knows how hard it is just to get to the point of sitting in their chair. Players who win auditions are extremely motivated to show up with their music memorized and perfect for every single rehearsal, sectional, and concert. They are on their first date behavior. So if they fail, there is usually a great reason that has to do with showing up unprepared or being rude to colleagues on a regular basis, or playing louder than the section all the time, or in some cases, showing up to work drunk or something ridiculous. But even when people have a substance abuse problem, the orchestra usually tries to help them first. So, perhaps there could be a probation period after tech interviews the same way we have them? (Actually, my friend told me that the Boston-based company, Wayfair, does this. Do any other companies do this? I think it makes sense for both parties. It's a drag when someone has had to relocate and they don't pass through to tenure, but those are the breaks, I guess.)


"Grounded in reality?"

Could we get some sources for these claims?

In particular, I'd like to see values and standard deviations for "On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways."



That blog post doesn't go into biological reasons — read through it and for each bit of evidence, ask whether the relationship described could be explained by social expectations in early childhood. Talking about career preferences in high school students is much later than what people are talking about – socialization starts before they can talk!

I'm married to a neuroscientist and have spent a lot of time talking with other researchers. Nobody denies that there are measurable low-level biological differences (the hormone levels alone guarantee that) but I've noticed that everyone who actually does research in the area is extremely careful to point out that while you can measure e.g. statistically significant differences in the ratios of white and grey matter, nobody has linked those low level traits to higher-level cognitive abilities, much less success in a profession which combines many different cognitive skills. An additional key point which is often missed is that our brains are plastic and will change in response to what we do: if you found that, say, a group of men out-performed women on tracking moving multiple objects you would still need to ask whether that was biologically predetermined or simply caused by boys being encouraged to play sports, hunt, etc. which developed that skill and/or girls being discouraged from doing the same.


When you actually read the blog post, you'll see that it does quote research finding sex differences 1) as early as within 2 days after birth and 2) similar in baby monkeys' toy preferences as in human children.

I'll let you decide (Occam's razor is helpful) whether that is more likely the product of biology or "social expectations in early childhood" (within 2 days? in monkeys?).


You've made the 'monkeys do <x> ... draw your own conclusions' argument more than once and at this point I can't help but feel it's not an argument in good faith.

The person you're responding to went out of their way to acknowledge that there are indeed differences, so they are not in disagreement with this point.

Rather, The argument is that it's difficult to make a clear connection between these low-level 'nature' difference and the much higher-level issues we're discussing. That seems like a decent argument considering 1) how much of our world is socially-constructed, and 2) how often the argument '<group x> is inferior at <thing y>' has been used to maintain the status-quo by the status-quo, and more importantly how often it has been proven wrong.

To be clear, personally I'm in the 'genetic differences matter more than we think, in general' camp, to an extent that I don't always feel comfortable talking about it in public. And I do think there's something of a bias in the social sciences towards blaming nurture over nature.

However, first of all I'm not sure if, in practice, this bias is a bad thing for society. But even if it is, arguing that male babies act different from female babies and that somehow this explains many of or societal issues strikes me as extremely spurious and downright disingenuous when such an argument is used against people who already openly acknowledge that there is clearly a genetic element to the whole story.

Furthermore, while things might be different in SV, in my neck of the woods I'm pretty firmly in the SJW- or feminist 'circles' and I rarely meet anyone who truly believes that there are no genetic differences. It strikes me as odd that so many arguments primarily argue against the view that it's '100% nurture/cultural', when as far as I can tell very few people actually defend this point of view. It reeks of strawmanning.

(not that these people don't exist, I'm just saying they're a vocal, extreme minority in my day to day experience)


Thanks for incorrectly assuming I didn't - it really shows your commitment to honest discussion, as does ignoring the fact that those were asides while the core of the post demonstrates the conflation I mentioned in every major section.

As to that one link, one study is not conclusive – animal studies are notoriously prone to unintended experimenter influences – and that's especially suspect when e.g. it claims innate color preferences for the pink/blue divide which has been biologically predetermined for about a century.

Again, I'm not saying there aren't differences or that they can't be significant, only that the research thus far doesn't support the sweeping claims being made.


This is one of the best comments in this messy thread. Thanks for taking the time to write it.


When feminists say that women should have control over their bodies, do they literally mean that women should shape their own biology by restructuring society?


Do you really need scientific sources to notice the biological differences between two different sexes of a species?


I think the Left now does. I'm not trying to troll, but this new trend of pretending there isn't a difference has started to really bother me. Jordan Peterson attributes it to the influx of Postmodernism to Leftist ideologies. I don't know if I totally agree with him there but it's at least a starting point.


Are you asserting that height and muscle mass are significant determiners of success in technological careers?

We are discussing mental and psychological variables about which essentially all of the opinions presented in the history of humanity have been unadulterated crap. So, yes, I want scientific sources.


> Are you asserting that height and muscle mass are significant determiners of success in technological careers?

No. Well, actually, both might have some influence in social settings, but significant for success I doubt.

> We are discussing mental and psychological variables ... So, yes, I want scientific sources

There are pretty evident differences in that area you can see without any science. Gender ideologists try to explain them away, but it is not like they have any scientific basis for that. Given that the differences are obvious, a field given a convoluted theory would have to prove their theory, or rather to defend against the existing disprovals. Gender is completely incapable of doing that.

And there are quite some sources linked in this comment thread.

You know that Butler was only writing some thoughts of how she thinks it could be, right? Gender theory is not science by any definition. There can't be a scientific discussion about it.

> all of the opinions presented in the history of humanity have been unadulterated crap

There is a lot of absurd stuff floating around in that space, true. But to think that there is no difference at all because of that is just crazy.

And actually, the original story is only discussing mental and psychological differences as an aside. The google memo is about inegality and discrimination, now coming from a fascist ideology under disguise and spreading through societies. It is not about biological differences, it is not even really about any differences. It's class warfare with new means.


> There are pretty evident differences in that area you can see without any science.

Fortunate that these unnamed differences are so obvious as to not require scientific confirmation.


> And there are quite some sources linked in this comment thread.


Seriously? If you think that men and women don't differ by more than their genitals, then you have to ignore all modern science.


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Nah.

> In her preface to the first edition, Halpern wrote: “At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. ... After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles … I changed my mind.”

> Why? There was too much data pointing to the biological basis of sex-based cognitive differences to ignore, Halpern says. For one thing, the animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people. These findings continue to accrue. In a study of 34 rhesus monkeys, for example, males strongly preferred toys with wheels over plush toys, whereas females found plush toys likable. It would be tough to argue that the monkeys’ parents bought them sex-typed toys or that simian society encourages its male offspring to play more with trucks. A much more recent study established that boys and girls 9 to 17 months old — an age when children show few if any signs of recognizing either their own or other children’s sex — nonetheless show marked differences in their preference for stereotypically male versus stereotypically female toys

> Many of these cognitive differences appear quite early in life. “You see sex differences in spatial-visualization ability in 2- and 3-month-old infants,” Halpern says. Infant girls respond more readily to faces and begin talking earlier. Boys react earlier in infancy to experimentally induced perceptual discrepancies in their visual environment. In adulthood, women remain more oriented to faces, men to things.

https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-...


Who'd a known? Repeated observations in all types of human societies everywhere for thousands and thousands of years turn out to be true.

Thank god we have science to confirm that to us!


Anyone who knows anything about biology or genetics knows that it is absurd that there would be zero phenotypic difference between males and females. There are simply different factors driving each gender's reproductive success, and therefore the XX and XY chromosomal difference will push different traits.

Sociology and anthropology depts can't handle this because they aren't interested in science.


both "myths of gender" and "delusions of gender" were written by scientists.

the fact that you still think of sex as a binary difference between xx and xy shows how far outdated your ideas about the science of sex differences are. even "biological sex" (not even gender) is a spectrum influenced by a variety of different factors


Sex is in fact a binary difference, transgender folk are a tiny proportion of the population.


"Truth values are in fact a binary difference, fuzzy logic is a tiny portion of mathematics."

"Light switches are in fact a binary difference, dimmer switches are a small portion of all switches."

"Life is in fact a binary difference, brain death patients are a tiny portion of all patients."


"Truth values are in fact a binary difference, fuzzy logic is a tiny portion of mathematics."

Metastable states[0] are a tiny portion of all logic values. They exist and are inherently unavoidable, but somehow massively complicated systems that fundamentally rely on the assumption that values are either 0 or 1 still work.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metastability_in_electronics


In the context of there being measurable differences between the sets of males and females, 99% is binary enough.


"99% server uptime is enough!"


Indeed - we design systems to operate under the expectation that services are available. We handle their not being available as an exceptional case.

This seems analogous; we should design social structures (or allow social structures to emerge) that assume that individuals are male or female, but which handle the exceptional case of non-cisgendered individuals. Just like a software system that doesn't handle exceptions gracefully, a social system that lacks provisions for these is fundamentally flawed and can fail unexpectedly and potentially catastrophically.


Catastrophically how?

Society also lacks "provisions" for violent criminals[0] but it still handles them and is yet to fail catastrophically.

[0] I'm not equating these two categories of people, merely illustrating that your example of comparing software exceptions to people is deeply flawed.



The page you linked gives the proportion 1/100. Is there something I'm missing?


Sociology and anthropology being, of course, fields particularly noted for their peerless objectivity and rigor...


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No doubt you would. Why should I? Because appeal to authority? Or is there a reason why their frequently regrettable track records must not be considered an indictment of any sort?


So your comment is (rightly) getting downvoted. I think readers here tend to reject anecdotal arguments and rely on data. The critiques of sociology and anthropology are legitimate: those fields are not like technical fields and they lend themselves to weird conclusions that don't get peer reviewed in a way that's different from, say, math or physics.


Don't look at me when you say that. I have no problem with anecdotes; the problem I have is that some anecdotes are so readily considered more equal than others. We need not sidetrack ourselves into discussion of any direction we may observe this tropism to take, in order to recognize that no field may be reasonably regarded as rigorous which is so happy to discard those anecdotes which fail to conform with some apparently predetermined preference of narrative, and place value only on those anecdotes which support it.


A substantial amount of academic sociology is based on quantitative analyses of survey data. For example, here's an (open-access!) paper describing gender divides in US doctoral education: https://www.sociologicalscience.com/articles-v4-6-123/


Surveys are only useful for studying for what people believe, and only then what they're willing to admit. The discipline shouldn't make any claims about actual behavior when the only observations that could possibly support them aren't permitted.


I agree! People are very inconsistent. They change their beliefs, lie to people, are unsure about things, etc. A lot of sociologists would argue that this is a good reason to combine this kind of quantitative data with in-depth ethnographic observation of real behavior (e.g. https://shamuskhan.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/talk-is-cheap...). When we want to see how someone's opinion actually plays out in a real situation, that's usually our best tool.

Also, a lot of survey data captures demographic characteristics, not just individual beliefs-- think censuses. Surveys are generally considered a robust instrument for measuring things (like income, occupation, gender) that are relatively fixed over time.


that's because data isn't 100% appropriate for social sciences. you can't measure everything. shocking as it may be for STEM majors (full disclosure: i have a physics degree), people's feelings and subjective experiences matter, and forms of reason that are not-numerical (ie, philosophy, politics, law, etc) are rigorous and have value. it's weird that this is a radical perspective in this culture.


I'm not sure what the whole deal is about "STEM majors" and "computer science majors", but can it maybe not be such a thing? I don't see why it matters one way or another, and having never gone to school, I can't imagine how whatever intellectual canalization you seem to be hinting at would be applicable here in any case. It just seems to be adding a lot more heat than light, and I'm really not seeing what it brings to the conversation that makes that in any way worthwhile.


I was a STEM major (physics) and I work in tech. I'm attacking from inside, not outside. I think that there is a specific culture in STEM whereby white men who are incredibly gifted and successful in math/science/whatever think that their natural brilliance gives them the ability to speak on all social issues with authority, and that they can speak from a purely rational perspective. My point is that things like your upbringing, your social group, your race, gender, class, etc all have an important impact on how you think, and STEM people should keep that in mind. They should have more humility, and be more open to listening to the stories of people instead of just trying to think of things in terms of Numbers.


I mean I don't even know what you're attacking.

> They should have more humility, and be more open to listening to the stories of people instead of just trying to think of things in terms of Numbers.

Throughout my entire career, which now approaches the close of its second decade, I have known exactly one person who might even possibly match this description. Last week, he filed the initial paperwork to declare his candidacy for the House seat in his district, whose longstanding incumbent is probably going for a Senate seat next year. He's running as a Democrat, and his entire platform revolves around improving social welfare by eliminating inefficiencies without cutting benefits rolls - indeed, while expanding them. He's advocating a tax-neutral, net-positive-payout plan for a universal basic income!

He's doomed, of course. Even in Maryland - even in Baltimore, he doesn't stand a chance, because he is a man of unusual personality who does not make friends easily or quickly inspire confidence in strangers. But I love him for trying. And I have no idea in the world what you're talking about with this "numbers over people" culture among people in our field and those adjacent. I don't doubt your observations, although I do find them wildly at odds with my own experience. But my own observations do not in any sense bear out your analysis that is culture arises specifically from "STEM-ness" of people instead of some other quality, and I'm not interested in abandoning my observations for your own, either.

Are you sure that your analysis of this phenomenon's origin is not wildly off base? Because, you know, I think maybe your analysis of this phenomenon's origin might be wildly off base.


Stop mischaracterizing what I'm saying. I'm simply noting that biology is real, and informs a lot of what we do. I'm sorry, but "stories" don't mean anything to me, and again I think it's really strange that people who work in tech, who ostensibly should be more acquainted with data-based decision making, seem to use anecdotes to make what are basically political arguments.

I think I'm pretty much done with the Left at this point. I find this rejection of basic scientific inquiry to be really strange and dangerous.


> I think I'm pretty much done with the Left at this point. I find this rejection of basic scientific inquiry to be really strange and dangerous.

That's funny. I can totally see the same kind of comment in a thread about other topics that are unpopular in the Right.

Perhaps there is a pattern here.


>I'm sorry, but "stories" don't mean anything to me

are you human


Yes, and I'm a human who thinks that it's unwise to make policy based on anecdotes. A heretic, I am!


No, the critiques (at least that I've seen here) are ridiculous; HN is generally conservative STEM majors who have never studied anything seriously outside their tiny box of CS/engineering and possibly math/physics and think everything they don't understand is beneath them. It shows in this thread, it's almost painfully cringe-inducing to read. In order to make a reasonable critique of a field, you must first understand it, something which nearly zero HNers even make an attempt to do. They dismiss it out of hand without argument because it is not STEM and therefore not "rigorous" enough to even be considered by their superior STEM brains.

Are there problems in these fields? Sure, there are problems in every field. But I haven't seen a single reasonable point here or otherwise that provides a good reason for mistrusting the vast consensus among a wide variety of very smart people who have spent their entire lives studying these issues and instead trusting JavaProgrammer37 who stomps his feet and insists women just aren't smart like him, smart enough to write SQL queries.


Well, the author's personal feelings of being shut out of conversations around diversity (and the resulting irony) stand on their own unless we think the author is lying or deluded about that somehow.


Here's a wikipedia article titled "Sex differences in psychology" [1] that might have some of what you're looking for.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_psychology


Are the biological differences between men and women not rather straightforward?


Not really. There are claims that for example men are better at spacial reasoning (imagining/navigating a 2d/3d space, constructing physical things in their head before acting on it). Women are supposedly better at putting themselves into the perspective of other people, both emotionally as well as logically. Or so I've heard.

I'm sure there have been studies on these topics though, and I think that's what your parent comment is asking for?!

Although, making these out to be biological differences could be a stretch.


Boys are encouraged to build and to play ball. Girls are encouraged to perform and to play tea. Why would we expect the stereotypical difference to be biological at all? I'm sure there are some differences in tendencies, but I'm not at all sure they'll avoid being swamped by environmental effects, socialization, and individual variation.


Because it happens even in monkeys : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/

I've posted it elsewhere in the thread already, but this article is a good recap of research on the topic : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...


That is not a "good recap of research", it is a motivated collection of cherry-picked data points put together to suit the author's political purpose. Dig a bit on the author of the piece and you will get a feel for his objectives, and dig a bit into the actual points he is, poorly, attempting to make in the article and you will see that they seem to hand wave over a bunch of questions that any real researcher would examine further. Please provide real research rather than spamming this blog post as though it was actually a useful contribution to the conversation.


> a motivated collection of cherry-picked data points put together to suit the author's political purpose

How very ironic you should say that, given the author's interesting demonstration (with figures) in that very same post of the propensity of the other side to over-cite weak studies that fit the desired narrative, and under-cite inconvenient ones with orders of magnitude better sample sizes and methodology.

> Please provide real research.

Indeed...


That's a rather ad-hominem response/dismissal. Care to address the blog post's arguments?


Toy preferences are innate. I'm seriously struggling to understand how people can obviously realize that different breeds of dogs have different innate behavioral characteristics but somehow deny that humans (we're just another mammal!) can have the same kind of inherited characteristic patterns.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/icd.1986/abstract...


Lots of studies have shown that girls that happen to have received prenatal male hormones show strong preferences for more typically boy's toys and play behavior in spite of any degree of social pressure.

There are lots more but here are a few:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12760514

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15693771

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12414881


> Boys are encouraged to build and to play ball. Girls are encouraged to perform and to play tea. Why would we expect the stereotypical difference to be biological at all? I'm sure there are some differences in tendencies, but I'm not at all sure they'll avoid being swamped by environmental effects, socialization, and individual variation.

Yes, I think individual variation is the key here.

I know quite a few girls that didn't like to do activities things meant for girls and the same for quite a few boys. No matter how much pressure (from parents, teacher and peers) they received they just followed their nature and did whatever they liked more (e.g. the girls played soccer and the boys "played tea"). I have examples of that from my experience both as a child and now a parent and uncle.

Wouldn't this mean that perhaps there is something in the tendencies and predisposition that is not rooted in social coercion?

Often when people think about biological cause they think in terms of what a male or female brains should be, just by virtue of being labeled a male or female biologically (e.g. by some physical quality, including tests involving chromosomes)

But what if you, as an individual just don't match?

Does that make your abilities or tendencies less hereditary or less caused by biology?

The biology of the individuum is what affects the individuum, along with upbringing and literally everything else, including others prejudices!

Personally, a big advantage of this current wave of reverse bigotry is that individuals who would have been just put aside without even giving them a chance now can fare better because society e.g. is being trained at the fact that women can be just as good.

Often, that's what matters. I often hear that the end justifies the means; that if we actually try to have a nuanced conversation about this complex topic we'd just give misogynists and xenophobes a way to pursue their agendas.

And we definitely need more work if we want that people have less bias when confronted with a person of a gender that "doesn't match".

I wonder when will come the time that being fully open, objective and honest will be the most practical way of achieving this goal.


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Would you please not do this here?


Would you feel the same way if the author--instead of focusing on sex differences instead chose to focus on eugenics? What if s/he argued that the reason blacks/African-Americans were under-represented in tech/at Google was because of eugenics?


It would honestly not surprise me that it would be A-OK here. We've already had someone defending Charles Murray.


> and no doubt a cartharsis for many Right-leaning Googlers

And this is where I kind of break down on the whole argument. I've already made similar comments below, but I sort of what to expand on this sentiment. I do not think that the views of the author of this piece were political in any way shape or form. They are purely idealogical, and the ideology that he professes has no basis in reality. This is what we may criticize.

I will employ an extremely gross simile to illustrate my point. Suppose that some item exists in the world called a "whizzer". A whizzer spins extraordinarily fast. So fast in fact, that we can't even tell which direction it's spinning for sure. We can use rough guesses to determine the spinning, and support it with some evidence from the environment. If I claim that the whizzer spins left, and you claim that the whizzer spins right we have reached a state of deadlock. Would you call our disagreement in this case one of politics? Suppose I had some information that hinted the spinner spins left. (Analogous to evidence that women are actively stopped from entering technical fields due to sociological rather than natural factors, which exists in multitudes.) There is still no evidence that the whizzer spins right. Arguments that the situation of the United States' gender divisions are natural rather than sociological can easily be dismissed by looking at clear evidence. Women are not as discouraged from entering fields like biology, or medicine. These are just as technical and difficult as other STEM fields. This implies that the factors that affect this are sociological rather than "natural". This evidence is not indisputable and it does not tell the whole picture, but it points in a general direction.

If we return to the whizzers, let's suppose my evidence is very similar. It's not all-knowing, or all-answering but it provides a general direction. There's nothing "political" about this. The "other side" is simply not providing an actual basis of evidence. Your argument does not hold up to any burdens of truth. It's as if the person with no evidence that the whizzers spin right is furious that I should try and make decisions that assume the spinner spins left. That's what all the evidence points towards!

The argument that the email's sender makes is inherently flawed. There exist issues with the conclusions that they make because their reasoning is flawed. I am not demonizing a political opinion, or attempting to police your ability to think or express your opinion. The email fails to convince anyone because it lacks an accurate argument.

I am not trying to demonize you. I don't think this has anything to do with Right / Left. Look at the facts. Look at the data. Listen to women from the industry who time and time again have stories of all the crap they've had to wade through. When all this overwhelming evidence claims something and the only thing the other side can produce are appeals to cognitive bias and naturalism, arguing that this is "just how the world works" it makes no sense because there is no sense in the argument.

If this were "how the world naturally works", how could we have possibly normalized so quickly? Women were only allowed to vote very recently in this country, black americans were only recently systematically segregated. There are people currently alive who have seen both of these greatly disruptive forces in direct action. What argument can possibly claim that those forces have completely dissipated in the United States? What about the United States allows such forces to be dissipated so quickly? Why are these issues more prevalent in places like Silicon Valley than other countries when the United States was one of the latest to adopt the different policies?

The argument simply does hold up to intellectual rigor. It fails to answer those questions in a consistent and convincing matter. If you believe that those questions are flawed, then why is that? Again, there exists no refutation except one born from cognitive bias and a flawed world-view. That's why people are opposed to it. It just doesn't make any sense. The conclusion is not a logical continuation of the premise, and that is why people are upset. I don't know or care where you lie on the political spectrum - all I see is a flawed argument.

Specifically you say "reflective of inherent psychological differences". What inherent psychological differences? Do you truly claim that you can generally predict the way your daughter will think differently than your son from the moment they are born? Do you think that these are in way accurate or determinate of your son or daughters future interests and achievements? Do you actually believe that they will have a "fair shake" regardless of whether they are male / female / white / black? That their life will be entirely based on the way they live it, and not on the way the world looks at them? Do you further believe that we shouldn't try and correct such distinctions?

If you actually want to engage in argument, then attempt to address these issues. Instead all I see is a further appeal to bias by just grouping this as a "right-leaning" opinion. What makes this right-leaning? All this does is further divide idealogical issues as if they have to be "one side vs another". It's nonsensical and all it does is further group or divide people rather than address the objective quality of the argument.

EDIT: May I ask why I'm being down-voted? It seems that no one is even willing to acknowledge these questions, let alone address them. I'm attempting to engage with people at a fair and even level. I don't intend to lecture or degrade, but simply discuss. A resistance to this is concerning.


I didn't downvote, but if you want a "peer review":

* This is a longer post, which should be fine, but there is little organization to the different thoughts in it; this makes it harder to digest. Maybe do a bit of signposting or provide headings for your subsections.

* Since it's longer, your post would probably be better served as a top-level comment. Or a full-on blogged response submitted to HN as an article.

* Since it's longer, it's probably getting less attention; a few detractors are enough if everyone else is disinterested.

* You ask more questions than can probably be answered coherently in the HN format. It's possible that some are rhetorical, but it's not clear which.

* Some of your thoughts are strong, some are fine, some aren't all that strong at all. It's not worth breaking them all down. But, for example, you ask what inherent psychological differences exist. It's fairly easy (compared to debugging a core dump) to search around a little bit and get a cursory understanding of that position. Some people might consider that enough to downvote and move on. Given the length of your post, you might just leave that sort of thing out in the future.

* You seem to reject that gender issues don't include a right/left schism. I think that's an interesting position, but the burden would be on you to support it.

My reply is already longer than it should be, but I hope some of that is helpful. If not, it was meant well at least.


"Women are not as discouraged from entering fields like biology, or medicine. These are just as technical and difficult as other STEM fields"

It is not about being difficult. Biology and medicine require a vastly different kind of intelligence than Physics and Math (and computer science). Also, doctors work with people, while engineers work with machines. And the author argues that women, on average, prefer working with people. This can pretty simply be explained by the difference in estrogen and testosterone.

So no, it's not fair to say that there is no evidence that the whizzer spins right. And the author never denied that there are cultural factors. He is saying that there are biological factors too, which should not be ignored.


> Also, doctors work with people, while engineers work with machines.

You won’t get very far in your engineering career if you think this way. Are you going to argue women don’t use computers next?


Using computers and wanting to understand computers are completely different interests.

How about this. Doctors are more interested in people. Engineers are more interested in machines.

Of course, as one becomes a manager, they deal with people more. But am just stating the initial interest that gets one into the field.


One issue is that acknowledging potential differences between the sexes can setup prejudice that acts to fulfill those prejudices. This can lead to widening gender gaps possibly more that any real gap in performance.

So many do not blindly advocate equality because they believe it completely but do so to avoid the overly negative and reinforcing effects of prejudice.

Think of this as a form of "Noble lie"


You mean it's a falsehood cynically advanced by a power elite to maintain a social order which would otherwise be uprooted, and those responsible torn toe from nail, by the vast majority upon whom it inflicts grave injustice toward some greater goal whose tangible benefits somehow never make it as far as them?


You'll have to explain the missing logical steps as I do not see how you got to this conclusion.


There are no logical steps to miss. None are required. The concept of the "noble lie" originates in Plato's inexplicably popular power fantasy The Republic. Its purpose there is as I describe it here; I differ only in choosing terms rather less congratulatory than the old fraud used himself.


The world I live in is filled with various Noble lies and self deceptions and mass deceptions. It does seem necessary to me for the modern world that isn't constantly at war with itself to exist.

There is so many that I do not know where to begin and I am not going to begin. This one seems on balance like one of the less harmful ones.


Are you sure the modern world isn't constantly at war with itself? I am not. Nor am I sure that a culture of constant deception - inward and outward, individual and en masse - is less, rather than more, likely than the converse to produce such a regrettable state of affairs.

Certainly I envy you this confidence! I have not seen it borne out in practice. But I doubt we inhabit very similar-seeming worlds.


> Are you sure the modern world isn't constantly at war with itself? I am not

In the Western world in North America and Europe we are doing pretty well. The many big issues are here such as climate change and low reproduction and lack of economic growth and the widening gap between rich and poor is problematic but it isn't leading to any major violence locally. There are problems but society is generally safe.


At the moment, with relatively rare and relatively small-scale exception, yes. Does that mean a world filled with lies need not end in fire, and those excrescences of violence we do observe are aberrational? Or does it mean only that the war has yet to go from cold to hot?


> Does that mean a world filled with lies need not end in fire, and those excrescences of violence we do observe are aberrational?

Living in a world of lies does not by itself beget violence or unhappiness. Nobles lies in and of themselves do not beget violence.

I read once the book "world on fire", which seems somewhat relevant. I'd recommend it. Her other book called "triple package" is also very relevant.

> Or does it mean only that the war has yet to go from cold to hot?

I am not sure it is building up right now in any big way. I am unfamiliar with the war you keep mentioning.

Netflix and other mass distractions help us live peacefully as it allows us to accept our lot or be mostly in denial of it.


Chua tries simultaneously to document the destructive effects of neoliberal globalism, and argue that these effects are not inevitable. She succeeds in the former, at least. I see no reason to imagine that we in the West are immune from similar pathologies of our own - more resilient, perhaps, but I think not perfectly so.

Your unfamiliarity is clear in your prior comments - which is not the judgment it may initially sound like. You would claim Netflix as the opiate of the masses. It is not. Opiates are. You want to see a world at war with itself? Every headline about the opioid epidemic is showing it to you, if you will only choose to see. Those who die of overdose are among the battlefield casualties of the war I describe. Those who have not yet done so are among its walking wounded. There are many other sorts of casualties in this war, of course. But rather than complicate the issue, let's concentrate on these.

I doubt you are at all personally familiar with the effects of strong illicit opiates. I am only passingly so familiar myself, a happenstance for which I regularly make time to thank an evidently benevolent God. But even my little experience is enough to know very clearly that these are not drugs to which one turns because one is weak or stupid or deceived, or because one's life gives one scope for ambition or hope for self-improvement.

These are not drugs you take when you're happy - because their effect is to make you feel nothing at all. If you were happy, you no longer are. If you were sad, you no longer are. If you were pained, or angry, or bereaved, or guilty, or ashamed, or hopeless, or frustrated, or stifled, or desperate, or anything else in the world - you no longer are. You only are. You exist, and nothing in the world can touch you. Nothing in the world can make you suffer. For a while. Then the world comes back, twice as hard as before.

These are drugs to which you turn in a final bid for solace, against a world in which you can find no way to make a place for yourself - a world so full of lies, so polluted and corrupted and stuffed chock-full with them, that it has no space left for you. These are drugs you use to approach the solace of the grave as closely as it is possible to do while your heart still beats and your blood still flows. Sometimes, people overshoot, and we read "opioid epidemic" news articles about them. Mostly, people don't, and the world continues not to care about them. Only when they turn up dead do they become of interest.

I'm sure such experience is as alien to you as it is to me. We've both been assiduous in taking advantage of the opportunities that we've been able to find or make in life, and have consequently been about as successful as our talents and diligence make it possible for us to be. That makes it easy for us to ignore those aspects of life with which we have little or no direct experience - and I'm not talking about yacht ownership here. That makes it easy for us to tell ourselves, for example, the lie that the same opportunities open to us are open to all, or the lie that "society is generally safe". Yes - for us. Not for all. What is there noble in this lie? Do you imagine it's believed by those who live whole lives among the evidence of its falsehood? Do you imagine they are so much less than human that they fail to recognize this lie? Do you imagine they are not angry about it? Do you imagine they should not be? Even if you don't care for such people in their own right, which is your choice entire however you choose to make it - do you imagine there is enough heroin or fentanyl in the world for this anger forever to be without consequence?

The other day an NPR article linked here on Hacker News made mention of a Baltimore community organization distributing naloxone kits and training in how and when to use them. In the week I have free between leaving my prior professional role yesterday, and commencing my next on the 14th, I mean to attend one of this organization's meetings and ask if I may participate in this program, for the same reason I now carry glucose tablets in my personal first aid kit despite not being diabetic - that is, because it is not unprecedented in my experience to come upon someone in desperate need, about whom a world absorbed with constant lies has chosen not to care. There is that about choosing to walk and take buses and trains, rather than to drive: one may not so easily maintain a comfortable isolation from the world in which one moves.

You will therefore forgive me if I decline to agree that, on top of all the lies that have brought us here, adding one more to the mix is likely to help solve anything, or that there is anything noble in one more lie. I do not doubt your intentions are good. But in this world we are judged not by intentions but by results, and the result of all the lies that have made the world around us is not the steady, if deeply and pervasively delusive, state that you and Plato would have it be, but rather a positive feedback machine whose every gyration brings it closer to toppling than the last. We have seen this pattern before in history. It has proven extremely unlovely in its outcomes.

Are you sure this time will be different from all the others? Or is that just another "noble" lie?


I fail to understand the outrage but attribute that to the fact that few bothered to read

Rather than assuming those who disagree with you are shallow and hysterical (a contentious word choice, given the subject), perhaps consider why others might be outraged, you could try some empathy (though I know the article warns us against empathy).

The doc presents a point-of-view, grounded in reality. Furthermore it's not "anti-diversity", but rather anti-discrimination

I think it is explicitly anti-diversity in that it sees nothing wrong with the current order of things, if that order can be justified by failings in the weaker vessels that surround the author like empathy and neuroticism (as the author clearly thinks it can).

It does seem a remarkable coincidence that the natural order of things so neatly reflects the author's place at the top of the pyramid though, almost as if the rules had been written by people just like the author.

Since when is dialectics grounds for ostracism?

I doubt the author has faced ostracism, he certainly seems confident enough in expressing his disdain for a large number of the people he works with, without apparent fear of consequences. Since dialectics is usually taken as a search for truth, here are some things that the author believes which are not true:

Women are not more neurotic than men

Women are not less scientific than men

Women are not more interested in feelings and aesthetics than ideas (a curious dichotomy)

Women do not innately prefer jobs in social or artistic areas over say engineering


> I doubt the author has faced ostracism

Here's one of his colleagues threatening to quit "if HR does nothing in this case" : https://twitter.com/rakyll/status/893287112732291072

> here are some things that the author believes which are not true

You've left out "on average" (which is stated no less than 7 times in the document). It does seem to be all supported by research : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...


That's not ostracism.

The research you linked talks about girls not women and is worryingly slanted. Here's a rebuttal based on other research:

https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/slideshow/embed_code/key/3...


Sorry, but there's a whole host of psychological research that has long established behavioral differences between male and female. I find this new rejection on the Left of what are simply basic observations of biologically formed behaviors to be extremely bizarre. I'm really struggling to understand it because to me it seems like the same kind of science rejection we'd see on the Right if we were talking about climate change.


Sure, there are differences. For men, no one ever expects those differences to limit what they can do. Men can be firefighters, loggers, hairdressers, florists, politicians, engineers, interior designers, party planners, chefs, teachers. There aren't many professions where people would question why a man was doing the job instead of a woman.

What the left and feminism wants is for the same consideration to be given to women. That despite gender differences, if a woman can do the job, then there are no second guesses or carping about gender. That she's allowed to just be, just like men are. That there's a recognition that while gender differences exist, men can do jobs once considered traditionally feminine, and can do them well. And that we can recognize women can do jobs once considered tradtionally masculine, and can do them well.


"For men, no one ever expects those differences to limit what they can do"

Actually there are plenty of fields and jobs that are considered feminine. And where men are underrepresented and underpaid.

A study has shown that with the same qualifications, a woman is twice as likely to be picked for the same job than a man. And the longer we keep it politically incorrect to criticize feminism and the left, the larger that gap will become. Am not saying those aren't needed. But I also think it is time we have an opposing voice (like this article) to keep both in balance.


As a woman, the way I feel is whatever the differences are - are hard to prove and isolate outside of our society. Whatever they are makes no difference to me. Every person has a right to pursue their own happiness with their choosing. But delineating or using these differences to justify behavior does not feel appropriate in a work place. If a company could not find many female engineers to hire (I am one) then ok. No need to create a table on why / why not that stands on weak ground anyway.


Except they aren't difficult to prove, and this is what really really bothers me. We've got hundreds of thousands of years of innate, biologically formed behaviors that we have because they were evolutionarily advantageous. I'm not saying we should use these differences to discriminate, what I'm saying is that it's pretty easy to observe that they inform behavior and career preference.


They are difficult to prove because they are exceedingly general and abstract. Try this one from the article:

"Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing). These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas."

I have to say there could be other reasons for this. A big one is that people gravitate toward things where other people like them already are. They have a tendency to emulate. It takes unique people to break out of molds and do things that others don't expect of them. Or that aren't familiar or socially comfortable to do. Same for men.

Now it could be true this is related to an innate trait. But who cares? We're talking about 50% of the population and the differences between people are aplenty. Companies have no business in deciding what's the right thing for any group anyway. Whatever people's motivations are - biological or something they came up with yesterday ultimately isn't anyone else's business.


Try this one from the article:

Sure, it has been studied to death. Here's a good summary:

http://sci-hub.cc/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00320.x

Check out the Table 1 on page 1104, for summary of different studies. Of particular interest is the people-things orientation the parent poster mentions, with mean effect size across multiple studies so large (d = 1.18) that it almost never occurs for non-tautological research questions.


Do you have any peer reviewed citations for those claims? If this is as certain as you're assuming, it should be easy to point to the underlying mechanism and evolutionary underpinnings.


Ha. The Evolutionary Psychology wiki is probably a good start, but if you're skeptical of evolution I'm not confident anything I'd link would convince you.


Skeptical of evolution? That's a telling misrepresentation — ask for scientific evidence for random unsupported speculation and be accused of not believing in science?

Again: do you have any citations? If this was as well as established as you're claiming they should be easy to provide.


Sure, let me google that for you...

Quit being weird and pretending males and females are the same.


Why? Evolutionary psychology (even if true) is completely unenlightening.

Anyone can be an evolutionary psychologist!:

"Men do [thing] because they evolved to."

"Women think [this] because women who didn't did not pass on their genes."


Not going to engage further if your summation of Evolutionary Psychology is that it's "unenlightening".

I can't stand this bizarre trend on the Left that holds up "science" as a vanguard in one context but dismisses it in another if it's politically convenient.


The fact that you whine about anyone disagreeing with you being some bogeyman you call "the Left" (which does not exist of course) is telling; instead, you should consider your discussion partners as people instead of the enemy, perhaps then you will provide arguments that are not you just stating the thing you desperately want to be true over and over again and we can all learn something.


Because Evolutionary Psychology is not science. It makes no predictions. It has no theories. It is untestable. It entirely relies on just-so stories.


What you keep referring to as "biologically formed behaviors" others see as "formed by society".


Right, I know, and my response is that those people are wrong. Yes some behaviors are socially formed. Of course. But "Society" has existed for a trivial amount of time relative to human history. Again, this is weird to pretend behavior isn't informed by biology. I just don't understand it.


I think you have a penchant for turning probabilistic norms (women do score higher than men for neuroticism, on average from puberty onward, for example) into straw men.

> Women are not more neurotic than men

That's not the same thing, so no.

> From what I've seen it's exactly the opposite;

Finland is a case study in cultural gender equalization leading to gender gaps becoming more pronounced over time. You might want to look up Jordan Peterson, who is rather high profile, in regards to this topic. I think it's obvious that this document was formed after seeing a bit of his youtube material.


Women are slower and weaker then men, demanding separate sports rankings to be able to compete. Seems almost dualistic to think their minds would be 100% identical.


This comment isn't complete without the observation that society can survive a near-complete annihilation of men, but not women.

Equality is a meaningless term unless we specify what needs to be equal. In my worldview, men and women ought to be valued and respected equally because both are equally created in the image of God.

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