As Mr. Hume told us a few hundred years ago, nature simply is, and doesn't tell us what ought to be. As such I have trouble understanding why we are approaching the issue from this angle.
Instead of obsessing about biology, we should care about how we want our workplaces to look. And I would welcome a diverse workplace instead of male or female monoculture. We can shape how our society works, we're not slaves to nature.
I find this discussion funny in the context of say Israel having countless women serve in the army for decades now. Someone must have forgotten to tell them about their biological limitations. Having worked in China for a while, where as a result of the one child policy pretty much everybody is expected to start a fruitful career, women just worked and had children at the same time. Someone must have forgotten to tell them that this is impossible.
"But it is crucial to distinguish the moral proposition that people should not be discriminated against on account of their sex — which I take to be the core of feminism — and the empirical claim that males and females are biologically indistinguishable. They are not the same thing. Indeed, distinguishing them is essential to protecting the core of feminism. Anyone who takes an honest interest in science has to be prepared for the facts on a given issue to come out either way. And that makes it essential that we not hold the ideals of feminism hostage to the latest findings from the lab or field. Otherwise, if the findings come out as showing a sex difference, one would either have to say, "I guess sex discrimination wasn't so bad after all," or else furiously suppress or distort the findings so as to preserve the ideal. The truth cannot be sexist. Whatever the facts turn out to be, they should not be taken to compromise the core of feminism.
The nature and source of sex differences are also of practical importance. Most of us agree that there are aspects of the world, including gender disparities, that we want to change. But if we want to change the world we must first understand it, and that includes understanding the sources of sex differences.
-- Steven Pinker, The Pinker/Spelke Debate https://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/debate05/debate05_index.htm...
And have you read Alexander Scott's piece on how mistaken Grant is about the actual state of science? http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger... Basically the argument is that Grant has failed to actually read the science he cites, because it the actual results from that science don't say what Grant say they says, especially as it relates to Damore's memo's worldview.
And then you can read Grant's reply to Alexander, and Alexander's reply to Grant. http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger... All pretty interesting.
And the outcome of all that, for me, is a strong reinforcement of the Pinker quote that mpweiher quoted: feminism must not be held hostage to the science, because otherwise many scientists will see things that will require them to become non-feminists.
I'm more disturbed by the visceral reaction to a memo that was meant to be internal, made enough effort to stay somewhat centrist and isn't really calling out any individual, but mostly calling for a re-evaluation of their processes based on empirical data. Even if his thesis may be in error, or may have said things that bother some.
The problem must be fixed before Google gets into the equation, not at the Google level.
Not if Google attracts women that would not otherwise be applying at other tech firms.
completely agree with Pinker's sentiment but it is very important to note that for him understanding nature is emancipatory.
For him understanding our natural limitations is a means to figure out how to overcome them. For people preoccupied in this debate scientific discovery about differences seems to be used in the way some mad 19th century eugenistics used it, as a quasi religious justification of the status quo.
This is exactly the wrong way to approach the topic, and precisely how the googler attempted to portray the existing evidence. This produced the outlash.
"We want more diversity. I want more diversity"
"What we're doing, it's not working"
"Maybe we're doing it wrong. Maybe we're missing something"
"Here are things [well-supported by the science] that we might be missing"
"Here's how we might use this knowledge to make things better"
If you want to have a cool-headed discussion don't style yourself as a martyr and accuse other people of silencing you. This is not the way to have that discussion.
While he used the technically correct term, its use without explaining the term was definitely unwise. I explain here: http://blog.metaobject.com/2017/08/the-science-behind-manife...
> accuse other people of silencing you
Considering they fired him, not exactly a baseless accusation.
I find this comment funny in the context of the fact that only 3% of IDF soldiers in combat roles are women. Would this be an acceptable percentage in software?
It unfortunately isn't that simple. About a century ago, one of the fathers of social psychology, no less, and an opinion leader at the time, offered the following quote:
> In the most intelligent races, as among the Parisians, there are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of women, as well as poets and novelists, recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely. -- Gustave Le Bon
There's more to 'the weird fetish about "biology" on both sides of the debate' than just wishing a better society into existence. There's a bias that feeds on deep cultural history that must be shed light onto and overcome.
1) It's all to common for people to reinterpret a claim of the form "biology has significant effects on the behavior of humans in the aggregate" into "we can assume biology is a limiting factor on individuals". Since the latter is an indefensible position this technique is used to preemptively invalidate any argument that actually only claims the former. This is what you've just done here, intentionally or not and it's an unacceptable intellectual dishonesty.
2) You're also dramatically misattributing the attempt to determine "what ought to be" to only one side of the argument. One of the article's key points is that the pro-diversity advocates take it for granted that "what ought to be" in the world of tech employment is a 50/50 split between the genders based on the biological basis of sex-at-birth ratios. The truth is that the natural, not unjustly-influenced equilibrium is not known to anyone on any side. Choosing any specific ratio (even 50/50) necessarily implies defining what the genders are or should be. (Including how many genders there are and which ones you accept!) For example, saying that the ratio should be 50/50 is to say that in this respect
women should not differ from men, even by their own choices.
That point about equilibrium is very interesting; makes me wonder about civilization fitness and competitiveness for those that discover the natural equilibriums and exploit them to their advantage. Sort of like a Star Trek Next Generation episode where some planet's society was able to measure all the traits in their children and direct them to where they were optimized. Makes me want to dig up that old plotline and see what the writer's thought about such a ordering of society.
We have grown a little too soft it seems. Our (western) over-emphasis of freedom of choice is actually segregating us. We're giving in to our worst instincts and then claim that they are biological facts that we cannot escape from. That is not a good idea.
I have to wonder what you think is meant by the words egalitarian and developing.
This is very much present in developing countries, whereas people in large swathes of the developed world seem to be preoccupied lamenting their own insecurities and limitations on all sides of the political spectrum.
I think a good deal of Westerners would do well to spend some of their time in a developing country that is on the economic upswing if they still think that the rest of the world is lacking in political or cultural regards.
Except they are not, by pretty much all measures. It's just that people are less free to choose what they want to do.
A lot of studies have probe the opposite (recent studies, not old ones).
> I have trouble understanding why we are approaching the issue from this angle.
Because you have cases like Norway, one of the most genre equality countries, where the ratios or men/women in tech are even worse that less genre equality countries. And the most accepted theory for this is based on biology (actually other theories fall apart because they don't have any evidence).
> I find this discussion funny in the context of say Israel having countless women serve in the army for decades now.
The biology also explain this. Skills are not unique and their values are diffuse. Even if the average men is stronger than the average women, if you select a man and a woman is not always the case the man is stronger than the woman.
You can say biology doesn't matter but the facts are that there is a strong correlation and should be taken into account. So I suggest to not to ignore it and read about the topic.
You should familiarise yourself with the philosophical basis of the is/ought distinction.
There is no good reason to assume that scientific inquiry, which tells us a fact about the world in any way tells us what we should want or should do.
Scientific evidence is a tool to evaluate whether we are effectively pursuing our normative values. Science itself will never be able to set those values for us.
don't assume I am not. You could be making a mistake
> there is no good reason to assume that scientific inquiry, which tells us a fact about the world in any way tells us what we should want or should do.
actually the scientific community has this into their theories. There are two factors: biological factors and the environment. At they beginning they weren't sure about the biological factors so they make test in one day old infants. And there is a high correlation between genre and interest even with one day old.
Given that, to most of us, the is/ought distinction makes the sentence "nature simply is, and doesn't tell us what ought to be" a tautology, and given that you say 'a lot of studies' have demonstrated otherwise, I'm super curious what you mean. Could you explain, please?
That is totally not what "is/ought distinction" is about, at all. Perhaps start your reading with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem , although I'm sure there are better sources.
The idea is that the answer to one of the following two questions is of no use in deciding the answer to the other one:
Is it the case that X?
Should it be the case that X?
Aside from your confusion about what the word "ought" means, I think the rest of your (now-deleted) comment is straightforwardly correct.
Your response is useful. Thanks.
I don't want this to be out of context. Here exactly my original comment:
I assumed in his context he means you are a biological entity but there is not correlation with the abstract entity (the mind). Because of that you can state your personal interests are not linked with your DNA in any way. But this has been probed to be false. Scientist have observed a high correlation between the testosterone and the social skills and interests. As the testosterone that is generated based on our DNA you can link you abstract entity with your physical entity. So scientist can predict how social are you going to be or whether you will be more interested in dolls or mechanical objects before you have even be born.
This is the biological factor, and then you have the cultural factor, the one you call "the ought to be". So genetically you have a predisposition to be one way, but this can be shaped by the environment, not only because you can reason about your behavior and change it but because the environment also modifies the DNA and so the levels of testosterone (and more things). How much can you shape the biological predisposition is a good question to answer. For example: I could say that being gay or straight is a biological factor but I doubt any environment factor can change that, maybe you will fake it for the shake of the social acceptance but not changing it.
EDIT: I forgot to say that the testosterone has an influence in the plasticity of the brain.
On the flipside, there's far too many people who do the opposite and ignore what "should be" using "what is" as the excuse.
But it’s difficult to claim that women are equals in the IDF (even the IDF admits that less than 4 percent of women are in combat positions). Many are in “combat-support” positions that can involve anything from opening the gate of the army base to cleaning guns—and which, by the way, command a lower salary than combat positions. And tellingly, there is only one female general in the entire IDF. 
Gaddafi famously had female bodyguards, but perhaps for very different reasons.
Many muslim countries have female special forces (again prehaps fro very different reasons)
Almost makes me want to build a better debating platform.
 - http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html
I'd considered this at one point. I marinated on the idea and decided it's not worth building (for me). The right structure for argument doesn't work in environments like Twitter/Facebook because the costs are asymmetric. It's very cheap to turn into a troll and very expensive to think through a thoughtful, balanced, nuanced argument. The platforms themselves don't afford or encourage the latter and incentivize the former.
I do want to build a way to database and store lots of the most useful facts I gather on all of the topics I care about from every platform I learn/work on.
I’ve thought about this for a long time. I think the trick is to realize that most people DON’T want to have a debate. It takes a lot of self-control, forethought, and careful speaking to actually sit down and rationally argue. Realizing you’re wrong is really hard and painful, and most people don’t intentionally seek it out.
If people wanted to have productive debate, that’s possible on virtually every communication platform (except Twitter due to its word count). Tumblr, Facebook, HN, Reddit — they all have public posts and a reply system. It’s all about the context and goals of the people debating. Do they genuinely want to learn, or are they here just to argue?
The best quality debate can be found in places where people actually want to change their mind (some subsets of the rationality community like LessWrong). My favorite layman’s version is /r/ChangeMyView which does a tolerable job. I think the goal should be to build a debating community, where the technology underlying it is only a small piece of the overall construction.
>But the internet industry is also part of a wider elite culture that is trending in the opposite direction, becoming more feminized and feminist, and inclined to view male-dominated enclaves with great suspicion.
>But Damore also made reasonable points about different ways to pursue diversity and the costs and benefits thereof, in an earnest and dialogic style that a healthy corporate culture would have found a way to answer without swiftly giving him the ax.
That first quote is pure perception from someone looking through conservative glasses. And the second is just a farce. There's no "healthy corporate culture" that would tolerate a memo like this. It's a corporation, it's work, the idea that someone should be able to send a manifesto which not only criticizes their employer but does it while they're facing a lawsuit and is explicitly political is crazy. Leave that stuff for the other 8 hours of your day.
Prediction: this will be viciously misinterpreted on twitter as Douthat calling for women to stay at home and raise babies.
Pardon me, but this is in(s)ane.
WHO ELSE BUT WOMEN BEARS CHILDREN?
Apologies, but I had to get that out of my system.
"Women are the only part of the human species capable of bearing children"
versus defining them by that role:
"Women are childbearers"
... where the latter construction has a strong connotation that that's all or even primarily what they are. I think that's problematic.
I'm not sure, but I think GP might have perceived that in the writing they're referring to.
From TFA: "Women bear children; men do not". There is no other mention of this gender difference.
Why on earth would you bring up "Women are childbearers" and this interpretation of "defining them by that role"?
However, his very next paragraph is about the lack of childcare on Apple's new campus and what it says about SV. I think any reasonable, charitable reader would have to infer from that that he is not expressing an interest in women leaving the workforce to raise children. My prediction is that the least reasonable, least charitable voices will intentionally misinterpret and misrepresent what he has said.
I didn't get that interpretation at all. The way I understood it, he was saying that there are differences between men and women -- some biological in origin, some social -- and the solution requires we acknowledge these differences instead of pretending they don't exist.
Ouch. Extremely out.
Even if you accept that there are biological differences between the sexes, the hypothesis that stereotypically female attributes/desires are not as compatible with tech jobs strikes me as very wrong.
Second, he doesn't say that "female attributes/desires are not as compatible with tech jobs", at least not as you define them.
These are his suggestions for improving diversity:
"Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
○ We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming
and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles at Google can be and we shouldn't deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).
● Women on average are more cooperative
○ Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive. Recent updates to Perf may
be doing this to an extent, but maybe there's more we can do.
You are saying this is already the case at your workplace. Awesome, you already have what he suggests. Why is what he suggest wrong-headed??
It just shows that NYT has turned itself into an opposite of Breitbart, instead of aspiring to become more unbiased news source. I'm actually surprised that they even let this guy write this piece on NYT.
Except, Google “gender imbalance construction” (for instance) and you'll find lots of concern for it. Same for fisheries and most of the other fields at issue. (Maybe not coal mining, where total jobs are evaporating rapidly.) People who hang out on HN are more likely to notice concern in tech because it relates to what brings people to HN in the first place, and also is more likely to be on-topic here. And the concern over tech may be more visible because it's a white collar field connected to middle class aspirations and that is viewed as more interesting to prime media demographics, and this gets more media attention.
> Where are all the women clamoring to get into those fields?
Mostly, out clamoring to get into those fields, in venues that don't get a lot of attention on HN.
> Where are all the women wondering why women aren't clamoring to get into those fields?
Doing that, in many of the same venues. (Yes, there are both women trying to eat into the fields and people, not all women, analyzing the social factors that lead to them not trying in greater numbers.)
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14973457 and marked it off-topic.
by excluding women even from registration, the government held that “every man, regardless of any disability, must register, but that all women, regardless of competency, cannot,” a distinction which created the “myth that all men are more competent than all women.”
That's the biggest (as far as I know) women's interest group and they support women being a part of the draft. Here's some more resources:
Health-care workers experience the most nonfatal workplace violence compared to other professions by a wide margin, with attacks on them accounting for almost 70 percent of all nonfatal workplace assaults causing days away from work in the U.S., according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Enloe, who has written extensively on women and the military, said she was just starting her research at the time, but as she recalls, "The local chapters were really angry. They were full of women activists who disagreed, who saw the draft as something to oppose."
So why the switch? Enloe thinks it had more to do with NOW's then-recent defeat in getting the Equal Rights Amendment passed than it did zeal for military service. The amendment, which pacifist Alice Paul originally penned in 1923, simply states, "Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." After Congress passed it in 1972, NOW led the unsuccessful fight for its ratification at the state level during the 1970s and early 1980s.
Speaking in defense of the NOW brief back in 1981, Smeal told The New York Times that wherever she lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment, male legislators frequently said to her, "When you women fight in a war, then we'll talk about equal rights."
And of course opposition to the draft for women was the primary reason for the defeat of the ERA.
"Experts agree that Phyllis Schlafly was a key player in the defeat. Political scientist Jane Mansbridge in her history of the ERA argues that the draft issue was the single most powerful argument used by Schlafly and the other opponents to defeat ERA. She concludes, "Many people who followed the struggle over the ERA believed—rightly in my view—that the Amendment would have been ratified by 1975 or 1976 had it not been for Phyllis Schlafly's early and effective effort to organize potential opponents." Legal scholar Joan C. Williams argues, "ERA was defeated when Schlafly turned it into a war among women over gender roles."
Oh, and >90% of workplace fatalities are men.
The references make the whole difference.
His report (and tweeting) was so partisan that I got really concerned with the integrity of the NYT as a whole. This new piece restores some of my confidence in them, even though it is just an opinion piece.'
Btw - is it just me, or is he way too friendly with the people running the company he is assigned to report on?
(Not that columns can't be well-reported stories in their own right)