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[flagged] Men Have Always Used 'Science' to Explain Why They're Better Than Women (gizmodo.com)
15 points by jdp23 on Aug 8, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments



> In the now-viral document entitled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” Damore asserts that women are biologically ill-equipped to handle the rigors of the tech industry.

Did they even read it? He does not assert anything like that.


I found this by just looking for the word "biological" in the original: "I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership."


Right. That's not the same as asserting that women are "ill-equipped to handle the rigors of the tech industry".

He's talking about distributions, and why women might be naturally under-represented.


I cannot see any possible interpretation of those claims that does not necessarily imply women's being ill-equipped to do the work.


I don't know what the Google chap was referring to specifically, but unequal gender representation in leadership roles is definitely skewed by unequal gender choices over child rearing. It strikes me that there's a perfectly sensible argument to be made that a material part of this inequality has a biological basis. I think there's next to no sensible argument to be made that most maturity decisions are made due to some lack of leadership ability or potential.

Or put another way, if someone makes the case that there are biological or cultural effects that impact on choices people make then I, for one, am willing to listen. Not least because there may be opportunities to mitigate those choices (I have had some success, for example, with mothers returning to the workforce in leadership roles).

If someone makes the case for biological or cultural reasons why someone is ill-equipped to do most 21C jobs in a developed society, then I usually assume they are just bigots as I've seen little to no evidence for this.


I think it's a pretty tortured reading to look at someone talking about innate biological differences and think "choices about child rearing."


He's talking about preferences, so why wouldn't you think about the choices people make?


To be more precise, he is implying that its possible a smaller fraction of women are both equipped and inclined to do the work than the fraction of men who are both equipped and inclined to do the work.


Just to play devil's advocate, it might imply that women don't want to do the work.


I guess it is possible that he's is claiming they are capable but their biology makes them not want to do it. I don't think it's a very likely interpretation, and even if it is a correct interpretation, I don't really think it is a difference in kind.


I've explained this elsewhere and I'll explain it again here. The author does suggest that biological reasons may contribute to fewer women preferring/being capable of (he does not mention the exact mechanism, and he does not claim to know the exact mechanism) working in tech at Google at present. The author goes on to say that Google should seek to review its work processes so that the average women will better prefer and be better able to do productive work in tech. What the author is against is positive discrimination for women which he says leads to gender tensions (which probably doesn't solve the root of the gender disparity).


One is a descriptive claim. The other is a normative claim.


They're both descriptive claims.


And I can't see how one would interpret that as meaning "ill-equipped to handle the rigors of the tech industry".


It says 1) that women are innately different from men in some unspecified way and that 2) this difference may explain the gender gap in technology. I think "women are ill-equipped (or worse-equipped than men) to do tech jobs" is a statement that naturally follows from those claims.


Third or fourth person here to tell you that you're incorrect: There's a huge leap between "biological differences may explain the gender gap" and "women are ill-equipped..." and here's why:

First and most obvious, do you know the difference between the words "may" and "are"? "May" expresses possibility. "Are" expresses existence. They are almost total opposites.

Second and most important, "biological differences" does not automatically equate to women being "ill-equipped". That's just in your mind. It could mean so many things and you're just cherry-picking the one that aligns with your personal view.


How do you interpret it, then?


Lets give one example of an interpretation.

Small preference can cause major effects. For example, if you have a group where everyone are voting on food choice and preference to eat taco get 99.9999...% the preference rating of pizza, how much taco will be eaten if you go 10 rounds? 0% Taco. the infinitive small preference will cause each round to have pizza with higher preference than taco, regardless of how close the actually preference of taco vs pizza.

If different groups of people rate jobs with different preference, then even a infinitive small preference can cause segregation. That preference is not a judgment of the groups ability to perform the job.

Not that I think that is the cause of gender segregation. Personally I view incentives and self-doubt to be much more realistic causes, but that theory (which has pretty decent observational data to support it) are currently not very popular on either side of the political spectrum.


The differences are not "unspecified" The research he cites shows that women are typically more agreeable and less aggressive.


OK, so it's specified elsewhere in the essay. Does that change the argument in some way?


> I think "women are ill-equipped (or worse-equipped than men) to do tech jobs" is a statement that naturally follows from those claims.

It doesn't. You and the article make a leap that amounts to putting words in Damore's mouth.

On the flip side: in fields where women are over-represented (veterinary medicine), is this because men are ill-equipped to be vets or is it that most men opt not to take this career path?


Well, it depends. Are you claiming there is a biological difference between men and women that explains the gap in veterinary medicine? If so then yes, I would say that is your claim.


Perhaps there is, yet this still wouldn't make men "ill-equipped" to be vets. Only different enough that most choose not to be.

Can you see now how you and the article are misrepresenting the original statement?


Well, frankly, no, I still don't see where you're coming from at all.


Ill-equipped:

I'm ill-equipped to play basketball at a professional level: I'm not particularly huge, I have weak knees, and I broke my arm as a child in a way that prevents me from shooting correctly.

However, I love basketball and have spent many hours of my life improving myself at it. If I was well-equipped to play professionally, I probably would do so.

Choose not to:

I am well-equipped to walk the Appalachian trail. I have done multiple-day hikes before, and am confident I would be capable of achieving this.

However, taking seven months out of my life to walk across some mountains doesn't appeal to me. I choose not to do so.

Does that make the difference clear?


At a minimum, he is claiming that women are biologically predisposed to not want to be in tech jobs or be leaders. I don't see that as analogous to "I don't want to do something."


The point is there's a difference between saying I'm biologically predisposed to some preference, and I'm biologically ill-equipped to achieve something.

If you don't see how important this difference is, consider this: if someone is biologically ill-equipped to do something, it's easy to justify not hiring them. If they're predisposed against interest in something, it's easy to simply hire the ones who are interested (their mere application is already a strong indicator against whatever biological predisposition).

edit: That's all to say that saying someone is "biologically ill-equipped" is clearly problematic, while saying someone is "biologically predisposed against interest in x" is maybe problematic, and if so, much less problematic than the former claim.


Gizmodo doubling down on misrepresentation, I see.


People have always used whatever comes to hand to explain why they're better than other people. Science, morality, manifest destiny, God's chosen people, physical characteristics, literature, history, geography, geology, climate, technology, law, banking, on and on. Pick a group, pick a reason.




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