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As women have more equal opportunity, the more their preferences differ from men (sciencemag.org)
534 points by seagullz 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 501 comments





This has been observed since Scandinavian countries pushed very female-friendly work laws, only to have differences in gender preferences more marked than ever. The book The Nordic Gender Equality Paradox submits two pieces of explanation to it, which are that 1/ One of the reforms was to offer sumptuous parent leave, encouraging parents to distance themselves from work for a significant duration, but which made the mothers gain less experience than the fathers who usually don't take the leave and 2/ Those reforms incurred strong taxes and diminished spending power, more especially making child care less affordable, again distancing mothers from work.

I don't know that book, but it's wrong on childcare being less affordable.

Atleast in Denmark and Sweden child care is heavily subsidized, to the point of being free for very low income parents (in dk). So there is no way it can make economic sense for mothers not to work. And stay at home moms (for more than 1-2 years) is rare compared to the USA.


You still pay the opportunity cost, even if you are getting a monthly income. Why should I hire the person who was away for a solid year on parental leave over the guy who has been working diligently during that time?

Forcing parents to have equal amounts of parental leave, as we do in Sweden (well, we incentivized it,) is a form of imposed equality of outcome. Equality of outcome is often said to be some disease of modern feminism, but really, what's the alternative?

Going against our primal instincts is essential for a productive society. "Man strong - hunt food, woman caring - raise child" or some religious justification of similar dubiousness is _not_ enough.

At the end of the day, it's going to be a balancing act of imposing on individual freedom such that individual freedom is at all possible. I personally am more inclined towards letting people be who they are, but that's what created gender inequality and racism in the first place.


The alternative is equality of opportunity. If some people in society want to do some activity knowing they won't build job experience while doing so, let them, even if other people don't want to and become more employable as a result. That's freedom.

Whether e.g. women on average tend to take more parental leave is only a small subset of those sorts of situations in society.

I (a man) took a months-long parental leave fairly recently which surely hurt my job prospects, how could it not? But I chose to do it anyway. Should other men that didn't make that choice be forced to do the same to even things out?


A similar but slightly different anecdote - I'm a 34-year-old man, and my wife stays home with our two children. We're very aware that this has hurt her earning potential, which means that if I were to die suddenly she'd be in a real financial crisis. To offset that disparity in earning potential, we've had to purchase significant life and disability policies on me.

This, addressed at the macro level, probably calls for the societies to function in ways that incorporate exercise of sufficient sense of solidarity and empathy.

A relevant argument is made strongly here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBSUkDXekMM


I can't agree with much of anything in that video. The question is immediately reframed as a strawman ("childcare is not work"), but that's not at all what I'm saying.

My household absolutely derives value from my wife's labor. What is impacted here is earning potential; if my wife were to need to seek employment outside the home in order to earn income, her income would be substantially less than it would have been if she had been gaining relevant experience during this time in our lives.


The lecture and the Q&A where the points were made predates your comment here and is not necessarily about the pros and cons of an individual on the short term, assessed under rather unfair political-economic regulation.

The analysis is at the macro level, with a view to why/how a society can pursue reforms towards fairer socioeconomic reality, instead of being submissive to the prevailing order. Slavery, for one, seemed unmovable too at one point in history.


Money isn't everything. If you can afford it spend as much time as you can with your kids if you have the chance.

If you are a mere 'Salaryman' there's no way your loss of income is worth more than the experience and relationship you gain.


Equality of opportunity is a complex topic that sounds good to everyone but also means different things to everyone. The reason is that opportunities are, themselves, often the result of earlier choices.

For instance, the opportunity for a desirable job may be the result of earlier experience attained, which may be the result of choices about how much time to spend on work versus family or other pursuits.

It gets even more complex when you take this back to the time of birth. Differences among parents represent a huge difference in opportunity for their children. But it's hard to imagine this changing dramatically: parents work very hard to give their children whatever kinds of benefits they possibly can -- social, financial, cultural, educational. If you could ever truly prevent parents from giving their children benefits that not all children have, it would remove almost all of the incentive for most kinds of success, and the consequences would be unimaginable (and probably dystopian).


As the GP you're replying to: All of this is correct.

Commenting on this & the thread at large though there's a general confusion here between the narrow question of whether the right way to subsidize e.g. parental leave should be done at the employer level, and whether it's worthwhile to do so at all.

Many here are assuming that an objection to the former is equivalent to an objection to the latter.

That's not the case at all. It's possible to be a proponent of radically progressive social policies that would massively benefit parents raising children and be 100% against those policies having any negative downstream impact on companies trying to hire them as workers in the future.

E.g. one way to do that (just spitballing here) would be to recognize that a new individual in society is likely to have a long-term positive revenue impact for the government. Some percentage (e.g. 10%) of their taxes would be paid directly to their parents, and this amount could be paid on birth on the basis of median income in the country and adjusted past the age of 18 accordingly.

This would give parents a massive subsidy lifetime subsidy, and a huge incentive to steer their children towards lucrative careers which would have a positive impact on economic growth.


This aligns with my understanding. I applaud every experiment in this space. We just don't seem to know enough about ourselves for folks to speak as confidently about these terms and their impacts as we do.

As I'm raising my kid I'm amazed at how important just keeping her curious and oriented towards the unknown is. Just teaching her how to manage her own emotions and external frustrations. Even at a very young age I see parents conditioning their male children to physically _push_ through problems and frustrations but the girls are so often taught to communicate and understand their feelings _before_ acting. This then seems to really influence the types of activities they are introduced to and ultimately excel at.

If I'm being honest with myself when my emotional intelligence finally caught in my 30s it was a bit embarrassing. I just didn't have a good skill set for dealing with frustrations which weren't physical.

</ramble>


> Why should I hire the person who was away for a solid year on parental leave over the guy who has been working diligently during that time?

Maybe I'm coming from a place of privilege but that point of view makes me incredibly sad.

I can't imagine being able to discriminate based on parental leave


But it isn't "discriminating based on parental leave". It's "discriminating" based on experience. The reason why someone takes a year (or whatever) off isn't the issue.

Does this feel unfair in some sense? Yeah. But would it be less unfair to artificially punish the person who didn't take time off? Questionable...


> Does this feel unfair in some sense? Yeah. But would it be less unfair to artificially punish the person who didn't take time off? Questionable...

It's not even about punishment. Calling it discrimination is like saying that hiring based on years of experience discriminates against younger people. It's the wrong point at which to solve the problem.

We know that taking a year off impacts employment prospects. If we want to compensate for it, what should we do?

The implied solution is to force employers to hire less experienced workers. But that has all kinds of known problems. The quality of their work will be lower. It creates an incentive for businesses to cheat and benefits the ones that do. The cost is not uniformly distributed, which creates risk and surprise for smaller businesses that may not be able to absorb the sudden cost.

What problem are we trying to solve here? We want to encourage parenting and help parents, so do that. Have a social insurance program for parental leave equivalent to unemployment insurance. Have a generous tax deduction for dependent children that compensates for the resulting lower salary. Do things, in general, that spreads the risk across all taxpayers rather than creating asymmetric costs for the employers who happen to employ parents, so that we avoid giving employers a perverse incentive to find ways to offset the cost.

It's not a problem if you make $5000/year less in salary if you also pay $5000/year less in taxes. Or $10,000/year less in taxes.


You make very valid points about determining the actual outcome we prefer and channeling solutions to achieve them.

There is some nuance. For example, a $5k tax credit might help me level the playing field today, but that $5k difference still exists for social security calculation.


> There is some nuance. For example, a $5k tax credit might help me level the playing field today, but that $5k difference still exists for social security calculation.

Sure, so identify the problems and fix them. The way social security works is illogical. It's supposed to be a safety net, so why do we pay in proportion to past income rather than giving everyone the same amount? Do the affluent somehow need a larger safety net? If anything they should be expected to have more of their own savings.


The system is perfectly logical, the more you pay in over your career (based on income), the more you receive annually upon retirement. The real question is whether this is the optimal setup for broader society.

I guess there may be some situations where one year of experience more or less makes a big difference, but it doesn't seem like that big a deal? It would be like hiring someone one year younger.

If you're getting X% merit increases every year and miss one, it will look forever as if you're underpaid relative to your peers. So people who take a long parental leave will have a permanent "pay gap" unless either the company pro-actively bumps them up (pay for the absent time as if they were present) or the employee overachieves to catch up (in which case they still have a pay gap relative to their overachieving peers).

Of course, there's also ramp-down and ramp-up time on each side of the leave. I'd expect a leave of 12 months is probably closer to a total productivity loss of 18 month, which will drag pay down further if there's a reduction to a second merit increase. If you take years off, as many do, staying home until the kid enters kindergarten, then you're probably looking at a massive relative gap when you start back.

But yeah, taking a year for parental leave is not a death knell for most professionals' careers. It will realistically result in a long-term salary depression relative to peers, though.


Since I started out working for startups, I guess I'm used to people changing jobs so often that you can't really generalize about salary like that. Like, I can't imagine judging someone by their previous or current salary versus age. (Or even knowing either data point with much precision.)

You're right that it's not cut-and-dry. A year out of the workforce doesn't guarantee a lower salary for any particular individual. It does bias toward a lower salary, though. This is the case whether you're job-hopping or not.

For women it makes a big difference as there is generally a choice to make between 25-35 as To whether they’d like to further their career or take time out to have a child.

Most women also reasonably choose to prioritize family over career when their children are very young further inhibiting them from advancing their career during that time.


I wish this were true, but in technology (my field) one year can make you fairly outdated and unprepared to perform strong interviews. And in some tech industries such as frontend web development, one year is practically a lifetime.

It occurs to me that you're kind of equating a year of holidays with that of having a baby, which ensures the continuation of our species. In our (HN) case, that is putting a few more technologist offsprings into the mix for what that's worth.

I can assure you looking after a baby the first year is not leisure time.


I am in no way saying that taking care of a baby is leisure time, or anything of the sort. I'm just saying from the perspective of an employer evaluating two candidates, if all other things are equal, and one took a year off and one didn't, and the employer chooses the candidate who was at work continuously, they weren't specifically discriminating against "parental leave".From that point of view, the reason doesn't actually matter at all, as they are just comparing two candidates.

Of course in reality human nature being what it is, some people probably do actually care. And rarely are "all other things exactly equal". I'd guess most employers would be more favorable towards someone who took a year off to raise a baby, as opposed to taking a year off just to lounge around.


>I'm just saying from the perspective of an employer evaluating two candidates, if all other things are equal, and one took a year off and one didn't, and the employer chooses the candidate who was at work continuously, they weren't specifically discriminating against "parental leave".

Gender aside, this is still discrimination based on a persons “experience”, as you call it, or very simply: their employment status.

This is against the law. Plain and simple. Look at some of the laws enacted over the years, starting in 2011 [1].

[1]: http://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/discrimina...


> Gender aside, this is still discrimination based on a persons “experience”, as you call it, or very simply: their employment status. This is against the law. Plain and simple.

I'm not a lawyer, but that doesn't sound right to me.

Consider four people who graduated at the same age, then took different paths:

* Experienced Eric worked for the same company for 11 years, is still there, and is considering a new job.

* Younger Yenina worked for the same company for 10 years, is still there, and is considering a new job.

* Late Larry searched for a job for 1 year, worked for the same company for 10 years, is still there, and is considering a new job.

* Unemployed Ursula worked for the same company for 10 years, got laid off, and has been looking for 1 year.

The law you quoted appears to say it's illegal to discriminate against Unemployed Ursula for being currently unemployed, so she should have the same shot as Younger Yenina and Late Larry. It doesn't say her year of unemployment must be considered equal to Experience Eric's extra year of work.

(There are also age discrimination laws that say you can't prefer Younger Yenina simply for being younger, gender discrimination laws that say you can't prefer Late Larry simply for being male, etc.)


>The law you quoted appears to say it's illegal to discriminate against Unemployed Ursula for being currently unemployed, so she should have the same shot as Younger Yenina and Late Larry. It doesn't say her year of unemployment must be considered equal to Experience Eric's extra year of work.

The argument made prior to this is not that an unemployed person is equal to a continuously employed worker but merely that unemployment should not and cannot affect your qualifications for position X. The law is pretty general as it states an employed person is anyone who does not have a job, is able to work, and is seeking work.

If Eric, Yenina, Ursula, and Larry are all able bodies, placing Ursula in her own category based solely on a gap year is in itself discriminatory.

The parent comments are taking the gap year into account—something that can be elaborated on, but should never be a deciding factor. The general consensus ITT is that Eric automatically is a better fit for position X than Ursula based solely on their employment history.

That argument in itself shows biases toward length of employment and current status, with the latter being something that should be irrelevant in a hiring process.

Edit: to show an example, most job postings on P&G have this disclosure:

>Qualified individuals will not be disadvantaged based on being unemployed.

That one line is what everybody is arguing againat, that unemployment automatically declines your qualifications.


> The argument made prior to this is not that an unemployed person is equal to a continuously employed worker

Isn't it? Maybe that's not what you meant to say, but even now as I re-read your earlier comment I think that's what you said. Based on the downvotes and jimjansen's reply, I'm not alone. jimjansen's reply in fact seems to have taken you to mean that you simply cannot consider someone's experience at all, which is a totally unreasonable position and consistent with your wording. I tried to be more generous in my interpretation but simply can't interpret your earlier comment in way that's consistent with the (correct) idea that one can legally hire Experienced Eric rather than Unemployed Ursula because of his additional experience.

(By the way, unfortunately I think these discrimination laws are basically toothless because in real life there are many factors that legally can be considered, they're all subjective, and employers are under no obligation to explain their reasoning. So you can almost never prove discrimination unless they are dumb enough to tell you about it.)


>But it isn't "discriminating based on parental leave". It's "discriminating" based on experience. The reason why someone takes a year (or whatever) off isn't the issue.

The commenter clearly stated their point. Businesses don't care why you have a one year gap. They only care that you have a one year gap.

In no way did they call having a baby a vacation.


This is what is taught in our schools. Grievance studies. If someone can take offense by reading between the lines and constructing a strawman, you must conclude that offense was intentional and attack the offender. Benefit of doubt, presumption of innocence is gone.

on the other hand, there are already quite a lot of us on this planet. not every single parent is doing a Good Deed by bringing yet another life into this world.

There are too many, but look at where that population growth is coming from.

Looking at the bigger picture we should be doing everything we can to encourage family growth within our own ranks. I'd argue that most people on HN etc would make excellent, above average parents if only because they are so engaged.

Sorry to go further off topic.


Many people have posited that a shrinking population will have a more deleterious effect than a booming one.

We’ll see in Japan in the next two decades. Europe is next.


This idea that putting aside the amount of parental leave candidates took when evaluating them for promotion is somehow "punishing" people who didn't take leave seems like a real stretch to me.

I don't think it'd be difficult to let people enjoy the benefits the company has agreed to provide without punishing them, indeed, this strikes me as the only reasonable way for the company to behave. Ideally, as time goes on, all employees with avail themselves of the full suite of benefits making this discrimination againts those who use their benefits will become moot.


Its still indirect discrimination and is there really much difference between a woman with nine years and a man with ten.

> Maybe I'm coming from a place of privilege but that point of view makes me incredibly sad.

Why?

It makes me sad that anyone would want to force business to take on risk that it wouldn't otherwise in the name of "equality".

Choices have consequences, if you choose to stay out of work for a year to raise your child then you will be less employable.


1. Have you ever wondered whether there's other human values - perhaps kinder and more loving values - than venal self-interest and capital accumulation?

2. The word 'choice' is not really apposite here, given that one sex, by the mere lottery of birth, carries the burden of pregnancy (and, culturally - with a similar determinacy - women are expected to rear their children in their early years).


it's not just unfair to the business though. if i have five years experience as a c++ dev and you have four years plus one year as a stay at home parent, it is unfair to me if the hiring process treats us both as if we have equal amounts of experience.

>it's not just unfair to the business though. if i have five years experience as a c++ dev and you have four years plus one year as a stay at home parent, it is unfair to me if the hiring process treats us both as if we have equal amounts of experience.

In one negotiation book I read, they call "fair" the "F" word. It means different things to different people, and throwing the word around doesn't further discussions much.

Getting to the C++ dev position, as a person who hires, I've never cared how much experience a person has. I care about how much skills and knowledge he can demonstrate. And an extra year doing C++ is information-free. It tells me nothing that sets him apart from another candidate who has one less year.

I mean, seriously - in my former C++ job if I ranked people by their C++ coding abilities (which includes SW design, etc), there was probably no correlation with years of experience. My manager even complained to me privately that people who had over a decade of experience were performing noticeably worse than those who had 5 or less years.

I've never actually encountered a case where a few months off, or even a year, made any real difference. In my company people occasionally take a few months off every so many years (sabbatical). Their performance does not degrade. A former coworker of mine left the job and wandered the world for 10 months, and got rehired back to his old job. His performance was not impacted (in fact, they prioritized him over someone else external to the company because he was already familiar with the job, whereas an external person would slow things down as he ramped up). I've seen people change careers (e.g. transition to marketing), do it for 1-2 years, and decide to return to engineering/software - no measurable impact.


Is it actually unfair to you that someone put in the appropriate effort needed to raise a functioning member of society? Lot's of people in this thread are failing to value parenting appropriately.

I think it is the opposite. Lot's of people in this thread are conflating parental responsibilities as being somehow equivalent to professional career development.

This is like saying a year of attending a trade school to become a plumber is equivalent to being a first grade teacher for a year.

1 year of experience + 1 year of experience is already more years of experience than 1 year of experience + 1 year of parenting. And it isn't too rare that it becomes 3-5 years of professional experience being more valuable to a company than 1 year of experience + the last 2-4 years of parenting when a parent tries to re-enter the work force.

You either have an impressive resume beforehand or accept that you traded career advancement for having children. Children are a choice and it isn't fair to people who chose not to have kids to further their careers to be brought down to "fair ground" by people who chose to have kids instead of furthering their careers.


first off, i don't actually agree with your implicit assumption that an arbitrary parent is doing some charitable service that i ought to be grateful for. i may benefit marginally from an additional birth by the time I reach old age, but the actual parents seem to benefit more, unless my peers are just bullshitting me about what a rewarding experience it is.

if you're in a position where you can afford to shoulder the financial burden of having children, that's great and I wish you the best. if not, don't expect the small sliver of childfree folks to make up the difference for you. if we actually get to the point where society can't replace itself, maybe we can talk again.


The part about "parents seem to benefit more" is questionable. There ARE benefits, but I'd say good parents are doing a service as much as they are exercising a privilege.

It’s nonsensical and of no benefit to society for the child-free to absolve themselves of any and all stake in how families are supported.

that is a strongly worded, yet totally unsupported claim. is there an argument that goes with it?

"if you're in a position where you can afford to shoulder the financial burden of having children, that's great and I wish you the best. if not, don't expect the small sliver of childfree folks to make up the difference for you. if we actually get to the point where society can't replace itself, maybe we can talk again."

It's exactly as rigorous as your argument. We've both submitted opinions to be considered. I'm not expecting more rigor nor inclined to offer more because I think we've both put out enough worth considering. But if you want to bring more rigor I'll read it.


i guess it boils down to you wanting me to help pay for you to raise your child(ren) and me not wanting to. an impasse indeed. there are many more of you than there are of me, so you will likely get your way if you wait.

More like I want you to pay for your fair share of having an educated workforce available made up of a generation that are contributors and not takers.

>an educated workforce available made up of a generation that are contributors and not takers.

When this is this is the case let me know. All I see is system pumping out special snowflakes that only know how to bitch and complain and scream at the slightest amount of discomfort or offense.


Look outside your bubble.

You are an extreme miserabilist and a hateful person - please stop and think about what life is about.

Personal attacks will get you banned from HN. Please remain civil, regardless of how bad another comment is.

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


But the business is not hiring them to "raise a functioning member of the society", it's hiring to fill the role of c++ dev. Your one year at home with child might count as "work experience" if you were applying for a job as kindergarten teacher, but for other jobs it is a disadvantage.

> 2. The word 'choice' is not really apposite here, given that one sex, by the mere lottery of birth, carries the burden of pregnancy

Welcome to life, it isn't equal, and never will be. Maybe we should stop trying to make the playing field level and just appreciate and celebrate the differences.


'Welcome to life, it isn't equal, and never will be.'

Right, that is 'life' in the sense that it is, to some partial extent - and I say partial because women regularly successfully reintegrate back into the work force, and many employers don't have your dim view of things - the existing state of things. But humans, if you had not noticed from the ideological and political revolutions of the last three-hundred years, can change and improve society. It is simply factually and politically absurd to say that X is reality at the moment, so X should or must always be reality. You would not say that of the various inequalities - of sex, race and class - of the past, so why say it now?

'Maybe we should stop trying to make the playing field level and just appreciate and celebrate the differences.'

There is nothing intrinsically valuable in 'difference', e.g. a master is different from his slave, but that hardly justifies the difference. So no, I don't think we should bathe in the glory of our inequalities, and chastise people who think we could do better.


>There is nothing intrinsically valuable in 'difference'

There is nothing intrinsically valuable in equality.

FTFY


I said what I meant - obviously - so you didn't 'fix' anything.

I was arguing against your suggestion that inequality - and the ways in which society is gendered to the disadvantage of women in particular - is a natural part of 'life' that we should just fatalistically reconcile ourselves to. Maybe I was wrong, and you don't object to equality on empirical grounds (although perhaps they were never serious, anyway), but because you're an anti-egalitarian reactionary.


> Maybe we should stop trying to make the playing field level and just appreciate and celebrate the differences.

Funny how I never heard this argument when the anti-poaching agreements between tech giants were revealed. Maybe we ought to have celebrated the unfair differences between man and employer?

HN's capacity for empathy seems rather limited until they (we?) are at the pointy-end of the stick. Drifting back towards the topic, I believe in the hacker spirit of experimenting/striving towards how things could be, instead of being satisfied with the stolid status quo.


We're all building a future together here, and "life isn't equal and never will be" is a dire, shitty attitude to take.

You said I have fluffy unicorn ideology in another thread here, and I think that's bullshit, especially in the resource-rich 21st century. As resource-rich as we are now, the future's gonna be even brighter.

If you just want to recreate the "life is unequal" structures in the 22nd century, why fucking bother at all?


You can get outraged and mad, and kick and scream all you want.

But it is completely and utterly stupid to "fight for equality". If you want to waste your time and energy, feel free. But people are born differently, some have better bone density, some have a high metabolism, some can build muscle faster. Some people are stronger, faster, smarter, etc. than others.

This makes the world INTERESTING. I am glad there is resistance. I am glad that people need to fight for a better job, or higher pay. How rewarding is it when you finally get that better job, or get the raise. How fucking proud and good do you feel when you claw your way to the top and reap the reward? You want take that away and just hand out the same rewards to everyone? Nah, sounds like a great way to have a dull life and meaningless world.


Not outraged, not mad, not kicking and screaming, I think your attitude is damaged.

"Completely and utterly stupid to fight for equality."

"I'm glad people need to fight for a better job."

Retrograde and sad, and a recipe for a continually miserable world.

Give everyone enough, give everyone what they need, and let's see what humanity is actually capable of. Any other attitudes, any other goals belong, rightly so, in the dustbin of history.


Why should celebrate some people being underpaid for their efforts?

Most businesses are small businesses. Think restaurants, cafés, small retailers, etc...

Most are owned by individuals who have families, employ individuals with families and cumulatively small businesses such as these employ a rather large percentage of the labour force.

For many individuals and their families, the fact they can put up a small amount of capital and start a business is the only way they can ensure a future for themselves and their children.

Not all business owners are already rich SV venture capitalists or multi-millionaires. And his point is valid - how much risk do you force upon blue-collar small business owners who are already operating on small margins?


>It makes me sad that anyone would want to force business to take on risk that it wouldn't otherwise

I think the conflict is between those who value people more or businesses more. In the US, businesses are often seen as a core and fundamental part of a society. In many other countries, it is not. That's why you get responses like "Businesses exist to serve people, not the other way round".

>Choices have consequences, if you choose to stay out of work for a year to raise your child then you will be less employable.

There really are not many jobs where things change fast enough in one year that your ability to do the job is adversely affected. Including SW. I've looked, and it's hard to find a SW job that involves cutting edge technology (AI may be the exception these days).

I get the sense a number of people feel that the person who worked instead of taking the time off should be given extra credit for that work, but I do not find the argument compelling. At least where I work, he does get something extra for it - a higher pay. People who go on parental leave in my company do not get the same income while they are off as they did at work - they get a percentage of their salary (I think it is tax free so it's "about the same" as their salary). But everything extra (i.e. bonuses) is prorated - they get nothing for the time they are off.


I do not believe there is any data to back up this assertion. Indeed, it's exactly this kind of discrimination that people are looking to combat.

Looking around my office there is a person here who's about a year younger than me but I don't think it's a given that this one year difference makes them somehow less experienced than myself. We're both adults in our forties with many years of experience each, quibbling over a year hear and there strikes me as pointless and counter productive. There are other, more important, differences between us.


You could argue that women are less like to die young from risky activities and should be preferred. I know a director level guy who had to agree to give up his sports bike as a condition of promotion to director level.

Even having less time off from sports activities - broken legs from five a side foot ball cost a surprising number of days off.


The risk of dying in your 30s in an accident is minuscule, while IIRC 87% of women have kids.

Also, companies can get insurance on an employee death (although limited to X% of highest paid employees): https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/an-employee-dies-and...

I might be wrong, but I don't think a company can get insurance on an employee getting pregnant.


But it is on an actuarial basis

This is probably a point in which state should step in, at least if private greed starts getting out of hand.

Sure, businesses in principle don't value employees that are parents, it's a pure cost for them. But from a higher vantage point, life is not just about commerce. Parenthood may be a problem for business, but it is a critical function for both nations and societies. Unless you propose that the primary driver for society should be accumulation of wealth by whatever means necessary, this is one aspect where capitalism should not be allowed to reach its natural endgame.


It makes me sad to think that business is put above human needs. Overall business will thrive no matter what kind of rule set you impose. If you or another individual stops doing a specific business because you don't know how to deal with new rules, the whole point of capitalism is that somebody better than you would take your place and do what you cannot.

Trying to protect business, to me, has always seemed like a problem of personal greed being leveraged over the community's interests. Those who are individually benefiting by the current systems don't want to change it because they could potentially lose their current advantages or be superseded by others who are more willing to do more.


I find this response, and the downvotes on the parent comment, incredibly sad.

If you want to live in a libertarian fantasy world with no safety net, you are free to create one, and try to attract citizens to your country.

Even in prehistoric times, it was generally understood that there was societal benefit to letting women take care of children when they were extremely young and that perhaps letting a new mother skip some of her normal chores so she could breastfeed would be better for the tribe as her baby could grow up to be a hunter and help bring in more food and resources.


Parental leave is not a safety net. Parenthood can be planned - it isn't some random catastrophe that befalls you for which you need an insurance safety net.

Note that I do support strong parental leave policies, and advocate for such wherever I work.


> Parenthood can be planned - it isn't some random catastrophe that befalls you for which you need an insurance safety net.

While you're obviously right that one can plan to become pregnant, that doesn't make unplanned pregnancies a non-issue. So, that safety net is beneficial.


Whether an unplanned pregnancy results in parenthood is a planned choice.

A couple in their early 30's just meet up after getting home from work. The wife, nervous, approaches her husband and says, "I have something to tell you". She pauses, taking in the moment, and him. "I'm pregnant".

Is that an easy moment for you? If she has an abortion, then chances are higher that she could never have a child again. It's not just a "choice". Christ.


It's not always a choice. And even where there is a choice, it's not an easy one.

>Even in prehistoric times, it was generally understood that there was societal benefit to letting women take care of children

In prehistoric times a village raised a child, not an individual.


> If you want to live in a libertarian fantasy world with no safety net, you are free to create one, and try to attract citizens to your country.

For better or worse, you just described the early industrial United States. And people flocked from all over the world to come to it.


That might a lot to do with the highly available and relatively untapped resources and cheap land. Britain was more industrialized and progressing faster than the US at the time, but only received a fraction of the amount of immigration, but it was also highly settled with much more expensive land and most resources already claimed/owned and being tapped to fuel their industrialization.

HN moderators, you should check the biases of the mod brigade.

I'm out of this conversation. Immediate downvotes because I don't agree with the toxic alt-right views that seem to dominate conversations like these.

I'm done with this discussion; seems we can't have a meaningful one.


"people disagree with me so they must be alt-right"

Please.


Boo for whining about downvotes and accusing everyone who doesn't agree with you of being alt-right.

You're being intellectually dishonest here. You expect to be able to share your point of view without critical response but you insult others for expressing theirs.


You shouldn't express points of view through moderation. Replying to the comment is the appropriate way to express differing points of view.

I agree. Unfortunately that's not the HR stance. I can't find it now but PG stated years ago that downvotes are appropriate for expressing disagreement on HN.

Also, I'm not sure votes count as moderation. Moderation is generally something that exists at a level above community feedback.


"toxic alt right"?

I express anything not patently left and i'm instantly vote brigaded into oblivion. You're living in a fantasy world if you think anything here is "alt right".


Businesses exist at our leisure -- not the other way around.

As we build and refine our society, it's entirely up to us to determine how best we want to put businesses to work, to improve society.

Anyone who wants the benefits of owning a business can be subject to those rules. Anyone who doesn't want to play by those rules can go solo or work for someone who does.


> Anyone who wants the benefits of owning a business can be subject to those rules.

Oh, those benefits of running a business. You know, like working more hours than everyone else, putting your own money on the line, being the last to get paid. Here's some hard facts:

1. Most businesses are small businesses

2. Most people are employed in small to medium businesses

3. Most businesses fail because they lose money

If you push for more and more requirements of businesses to fulfill, only the biggest corporations will be able to survive, because those are the companies that can deal with all the regulation, all the legal risk, who figure out all the tax loopholes, who have the best standing with banks, etc.

You'll eventually kill all the competition from the bottom. There won't be any more artisan bakeries or coffee shops, there will be McDonalds and Starbucks. Everywhere. No more innovative software startups, only Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM and Apple.

> Anyone who doesn't want to play by those rules can go solo or work for someone who does.

Good jobs don't fall from the sky. Big corporations also happen to be really good at making people redundant.


McDonalds is primarily a franchise operation, with the actual restaurants being owned by what could (if you squint) be considered "small businesses".

The financial resources required to buy and run an McD franchise are pretty hefty, so it's not exactly going to first timers, or people who don't already know how to run a franchise.


I'm aware of that, though not so much of the details. I'm trying to make a point of the blandness of the food. In a way, it's the worst of both worlds.

Many small businesses I've seen are also incredibly exploitative. I don't believe we should be defending these practices; if a small business really can't afford basic human decency, maybe it should not exist? And maybe the effort should be refocused on asking how to allow small businesses to afford being humane while not losing ground to large corporations.

What are the biggest hurdles (challenges) to starting and running a small business?

What would you change to encourage, empower small businesses?


I'm coming from the same place, except I don't think it's privilege, I think it's wanting to build a world where anyone can take a year off for anything and not have that held against them if they later want to go work for someone.

We're living in an era where, resource-wise, we could be post-scarcity, but politically, it's all locked up in a shitty, shitty system.

I want to keep imagining a world in which people are truly free, and not just free to keep grinding away at a job because the alternative is starvation or privation.


> I'm coming from the same place, except I don't think it's privilege, I think it's wanting to build a world where anyone can take a year off for anything and not have that held against them if they later want to go work for someone.

Do YOU want to have surgery from a surgeon that hasn't performed in year?

Your idea is fine utopian, fluffy unicorn, ideology. But practically it just won't work. This doesn't have anything to do with politics or a shitty system. It is just the facts of reality, if you are out of practice of your profession for year your skills won't be as sharp as someone who hasn't taken a year off.


>Do YOU want to have surgery from a surgeon that hasn't performed in year?

There can be something like a transition period. The world is not binary. Surgeons get sick. They get injured. They take time off. Just like everyone else. The reason they took time off should not be relevant.


The reason should not be relevant.

The fact that they did could be (in some cases), IMO.


Many people here have echoed the fears and complaints I've heard on this topic. Simply that somehow taking parental leave at all puts you at a disadvantage. Or puts you in a position where you have to explain yourself.

I feel like what is being done here is to [ironically] force an equality of outcome on every metric _except_ the one that swings the argument.

The very nature of equality of _opportunity_ means to me that it doesn't matter at all that I took time off. Am I qualified? Do I have demonstrable expertise? References? Education? A unique perspective?

You may be generally curious about my year off but the idea that it somehow invalidates _any_ of my other qualifications feels silly and limits my opportunity based on external factors which don't impact my ability to do the job. It's just that you don't seem to fit the world view of others so it's suspect.

_This_ is the complaint: that a talented professional coming back to the work force loses out not because of ability but because of violating social norms.


I'm not at all curious about your year off (other than as incidental conversation if you choose to bring it up). I am curious about your experience and competency, both overall and in terms of recency/currency, as I believe both of those are strongly correlated to your projected contributions to my company.

A pilot with 5K hours of experience is more experienced (in the pilot job market) than one with 4K. I don't care that you could have had that extra 1K hours if you'd worked an extra year instead of doing something else. I only care whether you do or don't (as it pertains to this dimension of the evaluation).


The point I'm trying to make is that you do seem to be making this A > B comparison without caring about the quality of those hours. Again, it seems to present the argument in a way that echoes the concerns I've heard. "A" simply starts off with an advantage in how you keep presenting it.

There doesn't seem to be room in your opinion or examples for a pilot with 3k hours flying commercial vs someone with 5k hours flying as a hobby on the weekends. 3k is simply less that 5k, right? You don't care _how_ they spent those 5k hours...simply that they have them?

If you agree that this is a ridiculous over simplification in order to prove my point then we may be on the same page.

The very nature of your comments makes me envision a women on the other side of your hiring decision wondering why she couldn't get you to focus on the _quality_ of the work and stop fixating on the _quantity_ of time spent doing it. Because that is exactly what I'm trying to do now.


> You don't care _how_ they spent those 5k hours...simply that they have them?

I didn’t go deep, because this isn’t an aviation forum, but sure the quality of hours matters. Retract, multi, instrument, PIC, dual given, high-performance, turbine, jet, 91, 135, 121, etc all matter. Smash-n-goes in a 172 aren’t the same as flying the line/signing for a transport jet.

Anything past the FAA ATP 1500 hour mark, the quality matters. Before that, quantity dominates for airline candidates.


Blerg. Then also an apology. You did say that your post was in your _opinion_. I chose to engage. You were kind enough to respond and expand on your opinion. If I missed that and used a needlessly harsh tone then please know that was not my intent. At least not originally.

No sweat; it's impossible in a typical HN-length post to cover every possible expansion of an argument; I took no offense to the post that ended up flagged/dead [by others] and hope I gave no offense with my own.

>A pilot with 5K hours of experience is more experienced (in the pilot job market) than one with 4K. I don't care that you could have had that extra 1K hours if you'd worked an extra year instead of doing something else. I only care whether you do or don't (as it pertains to this dimension of the evaluation).

This example, along with ones others have given, all reduce to the same thing: You are not interested in determining the skills of your candidate - you are interested in determining experience. Presumably with a dubious belief that your metric is a good proxy for those skills.

>I am curious about your experience and competency

Yet your example only addresses one of these.


To the last point, I believe that, ceteris paribus, competency increases with experience and decreases with time out of the daily exercise of those skills.

Of course everyone tries to evaluate absolute competency (ceteris non paribus) in an interview. I’m not suggesting that anyone stop doing that. I am stating a belief that experience is positively correlated and perhaps a necessary precondition of competency. If that's the case, considering experience as a component of the overall evaluation is indicated.


But we don't want surgery from an overworked surgeon either.

I completely agree. In fact the whole residency thing in the medical profession, is an awful, awful, system.

Surgeons can and do take a year off from their practice, and return to work. I would absolutely be patient #1 after some surgeon's sabbatical.

I also find it deeply depressing that "a person should be able to take a year off work" is now utopian, fluffy unicorn ideology on a forum for forward-thinking technologists.


The year off isn’t the fluffy unicorn bit. The fluffy unicorn bit is that you think your choices should have no consequences.

If you want to take a decade off work, you certainly have that right. But that doesn’t mean employers should pretend that you have an extra decade of experience, just as your choice to forgo a degree doesn’t mean an employer should pretend you earned a doctorate.


Ah so discriminating against the posh kid who took a "Gap Yah" is ok now.

Presumably we should discriminate against all 4 year graduates as they took an extra year to graduate's who do it in 3.


> Presumably we should discriminate against all 4 year graduates as they took an extra year to graduate's who do it in 3.

We do. All things being equal, the person hired a year earlier will have higher pay. As they should, since they have an extra year of experience. Assuming equal candidates, the one with more experience will do a better job (second system syndrome notwithstanding).


What's absolutely amazing to me is that one of the biggest complaints about unions you see is how pay is tied to seniority; the worker who's there the longest gets the most pay, not the one who "deserves" the most pay.

And here people are arguing the exact same thing!!! One extra year of time working means higher pay!

That's exactly what a lot of union pay scales are structured like, but that's evil unions; this is somehow just right???


You’re misunderstanding. Rewarding for merit will bias towards higher pay for experience. More experience will in general lead to higher merit and thus higher pay.

Also HN, despite the meme, is not a hive mind. Some here are in support of unions and don’t consider them evil.


Oh, you totally should be able to take off for a year. The same way you can elect not to go to university. Or look in the laser. You just have to live with the consequences. And in many, many professions, a year or so out of practice means that you are measurably worse. Maybe (but likely) worse than before you left, but almost certainly worse than you could be if you would have used that year to get better at what ever you do.

In software, a year off might mean you get better. If you have more time to work on your own ideas and explore new paradigms instead of cranking out fizzbuzz all day in between commutes, you can become better.

Totally. Same goes for sabbaticals in science, for example. It really depends on what you are doing in that year though, and how fast your particular field is moving.

Are you still going to be worse after a month of work?

Are companies that short-term-oriented?


Depends really on what work you are doing. Garbage collector, probably no. Helicopter pilot, probably yes.

>Are companies that short-term-oriented?

Publicly traded ones. There are only 3 months between Earnings Reports.


> I also find it deeply depressing that "a person should be able to take a year off work" is now utopian, fluffy unicorn ideology on a forum for forward-thinking technologists.

There is nothing stopping you from taking a year off work. Go right head. You won't get paid, and they won't hold your job, and you will have gap to explain when you are interviewing for a position when you want to return. Don't expect the world to bend backwards and ignore realities so you can take a year off.


Scandinavian countries do not go that far. This privilege is only granted to parents. The goal is NOT to give people the right to go on un-paid leave for any reason, but rather to promote gender equality as well as encourage people to have children. (The latter to prevent birth rates to fall too far below the replacement rate.)

The Scandinavian economic model relies heavily on high work life participation for funding, so encouraging people to take time off for other reasons would not make sense.


Also, maybe it’s good for the newborn to have a parent around during their most formative time.

Taking a year off probably isn't "being held against you" per-se. But after that year, you're competing against all the people who didn't take a year off. And in many contexts that year of honing skills, staying abreast of industry developments, etc., is valued enough to tip the scales.

I'm surprised nobody thinks that people who come form a leave may be more "thirsty" to catch up with their time off and filled with a good energy. Am I alone to think that? People also reflect a lot while on their leave and may end up knowing what fits them better upon returning to work.

Agreed. To arbitrarily rule against someone who took time off is very short-sighted. So please don't think that I'm exactly defending that mindset or the practice. Just trying to point out how (some|many|???) prospective employers might view the situation.

What on Earth are you actually proposing, that all else being equal someone who takes a year off work should earn the exact same pay or get the same job as someone who spent that year working? You are falling down an extremely slippery slope.

> Going against our primal instincts is essential for a productive society.

I’m debating with myself about that statement. Is the goal of society a high amount of productivity, or stable, happy families and relationships? It seems means and ends are getting mixed up.


That's a very interesting question. I would say the point in society is to organize and through this organization improve overall prosperity and happiness in the society. A chaotic society will be outperformed in most metrics by an ordered society. Order is therefore beneficial to society, and to individuals by extension.

Stable, happy families are those that don't need to worry about the necessities of life, don't need to worry about their income stream going up in smoke. This is where productivity enters the picture, because a given society can lose the productivity race, and therefore its prosperity. It results in negative impacts on the population of that society.

This paints the financial crisis in new light, where a societal function has been so rotted from the inside that it is able to damage every globalized society on earth. These people should be made examples of, but sadly, the power is so indirect, and the nepotism so strong.


> Why should I hire the person who was away for a solid year on parental leave over the guy who has been working diligently during that time?

I think all the other answers to this have been arguing either yes/no, but it's really the wrong question.

If you have 2 candidates, you should take into account their experience, but you shouldn't otherwise penalize the parental leave taker. So by taking parental year you put yourself one year back in the experience cohort.

There is nothing discriminatory or gender specific about this. If it turns out that women take more parental years than men, we return to your question of incentives and equality of outcomes, to be decided separately.


The highest paying companies in the field don’t care about counting individual years of your experience and probably would hire a fresh grad over senior engineer any day, so as long as you crack the leetcoding interview, what difference does it make if you spent the last year on a parental leave?

What is the opportunity cost of the mother going right back to work and spending no time with their newborn? Does society absorb that cost?

The father could do that task.

Certainly could, I just finished doing that for my kid. Which still doesn't answer the question of how it benefits society to push parents back into the workforce after birth of a child. The entire "opportunity cost" argument here is focused on the parent's ability to maximize wages or skills, in reality there are other "costs".

"At the end of the day, it's going to be a balancing act of imposing on individual freedom such that individual freedom is at all possible."

That's quite the rhetorical pretzel you are tying yourself into there.


The idea of freedoms being mutually exclusive is quite well established. To the point of being trite; imposing on individuals' freedom to reduce other people's freedoms, improves individual freedom. Hence laws against murder, etc.

[flagged]


It's fair for dangerous jobs to pay more, and I've never heard a feminist argue otherwise. The feminism I support simply asks for equal opportunity to various industries and for "care work" to be valued appropriately. Taxing people to pay for family leave is not a "concession" from society, it's more like balancing values and one that pays dividends.

You've heard feminists complain that women make something like 77 cents for every dollar men make and that that is unfair. If you hold all else constant and fix the gross pay ratio, men will be doing more dangerous work and not getting paid any extra for it.

Some dangerous jobs pay more. Roofing and logging are incredibly dangerous, mostly male dominated, and still pay garbage. Oh sure you take home a decent amount of money, but most that is because they work a ton of overtime.

I'm a feminist. I've never once asked for or expected equality of outcome. But equality of opportunity? I absolutely want equality of opportunity. And you should, too. Equal opportunity benefits everyone because it allows the market to allocate talent more efficiently.

Professor Iris Bohnet of Harvard wrote a great book called "What Works" that offers some creative solutions to the issue. Here's an interesting article about a small change implemented by orchestras in the 1970's discussed in the book: https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2013/oct/14/...

Finally, on a personal level, I've found that even the most well-reasoned argument will be ignored when the person making it comes across as an asshole. I'm not saying you're an asshole and I'm certainly not saying that your argument is well-reasoned. But I am saying it's something you should take into account next time you feel compelled to air your opinion.


If you had followed your own advice and left out the snark and implication that I spoke up when I shouldn't have, I'd be far more likely to take that as object-level advice. As it stands, your advice comes across more as trying to police what people are allowed to feel and say. I'm rather sensitive to that sort of behavior, so I'd like to apologize in advance if I'm misreading you here.

As far as the actual object level goes, we're likely far more in agreement than you think. I absolutely want a fair system for everyone, and I'm well aware of the efficiency involved in market processes and price discovery. "Equality of Opportunity" is a lofty goal with relatively few pitfalls (we certainly don't want to punish parents for fair attempts at providing their children with opportunities), but I think we're basically on the same page here. And outright sexism is obviously unacceptable.

I think a big point of divergence between my opinions and mainstream feminist thought here is what we believe is behind differences in group outcomes. In my view, prices as a signal of supply and demand has much more explanatory power. Higher paying jobs are higher paying for a reason - they are more competitive, require longer hours, are more dangerous, more risky, require more intensive training, are less fulfilling, or otherwise less desirable in some way. The wage market is certainly not perfectly efficient, and discrimination does happen, but supply and demand plays a huge role in my opinion.

As far as I can tell, feminism tends more to see differences in group outcomes more as evidence of discrimination and other systematic problems in the system. While these problems aren't 100% solved, in my view they're getting a grossly disproportionate amount of attention.


What if I don't stop believing them?

Your comment is written in such an off putting manner that I wonder if it must be satire.

You've dictated, generalized, and disparaged with every sentence.

Even if I wanted to agree with the presentation is so ugly that I recoil.


Stop believing feminists when they say they want equality of outcome.

Every time someone says this, they follow up with something about a feminist agenda that no woman I've ever talked to actually follows.

what they actually want in practice

Which is what?


> They don't - they completely ignore how men die at work at ten times the rate of women, put in more hours, take more competitive roles, and generally tend to make more sacrifices in pursuit of well-paying jobs and careers.

Instead of becoming frustrated with feminists for not defending mens' rights, why don't we get together and start to demand safer work environments, shorter workdays, less competitive roles, and fewer sacrifices?

We all would benefit from this. It serves the feminist agenda by creating work environments where more women can contribute, and it serves the masculine agenda by creating safer, less demanding work environments for men so that we can spend more time not working. I fail to see how this is a bad thing.


A lot of these folks won't take things easy just because the job is made easier. They're quite driven and focused on optimizing for overall pay. What matters is how dearly they can sell these tradeoffs.

If someone wants to work 60 hour weeks to make the most of things, forcing their job to be 40 hours just makes them pick up a less lucrative side hustle with their free time. Or if their risky job is made too safe, the risk premium disappears and in order to collect it they must retrain if able.


Do you have any evidence of this phenomenon from beginning to end as you describe it? It sounds fascinating.

If you take studies that compare the gross earnings of men and women and control for some of the obvious differences in decision-making, the gender gap tends to disappear. For example, I remember hearing of a study that looked at something like "single, childless people aged 25-34 with a college degree and living in an urban environment." In this narrow demographic slice, women made something like 2% more money than men.

And then if you look at the US census data on occupations by gender, you can easily notice a trend in which jobs have what gender ratios. Roughly speaking it's something like "if the pay and requirements are equivalent, which is a more preferable job" often lands on female dominated fields.

Education, training, and library occupations: 73.1% female Healthcare support occupations: 86.5% Law enforcement workers including supervisors: 19.7% Office and administrative support occupations: 70.8% Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations: 5.1% Production, transportation, and material moving occupations: 22.8%

The one big outlier to this pattern that I noticed was "Computer, engineering, and science occupations" at 25.7%. This also is a considerable category outlier in terms of skill requirements and competitiveness. "Management occupations" seems like it should also have some of this effect but to a lesser degree, and sits at 40.3%.

Source: American Community Survey, table S2401

Another interesting tidbit is comparing S2401 with S2402 - comparing all workers with only full-time year-round ones. I haven't done a full look, but one thing that jumped out at me is that excluding part-time or part-year workers drops the overall workforce percentage from 47.5% to 43.1%. It might be confounded somewhat by school teachers being considered "part year" and mostly women, though.


I’ve read similar studies about the pay gap that states the gender pay gap gets smaller but most notably doesnt disappear except in extremely small examples like you stated. Could you link me to studies that says they disappear entirely or become meaninglessly small?

“Roughly speaking it's something like "if the pay and requirements are equivalent, which is a more preferable job" often lands on female dominated fields.” Could you explain what you mean by a preferable job? Because I think an office administrative job probably sucks a ton of dick. Education also broadly sucks as a career, especially given the political climate. Healthcare support super duper sucks, but the only healthcare support I know about is those assistants for the elderly which involves a lot of really unpleasant work, or nursing which is also really unpleasant and involves stuff like cleaning up vomit and shit.


Suckier jobs will do things like make you dirty, risk life and limb, be highly stressful and/or competitive, have little to no extrinsic social rewards built in, require extraordinary amounts of training and preparation to enter, or require extended periods of time away from home.

>Office Administration

It's a desk job that gets you home at a consistent time, and requires little specialized training. It's got sucky aspects, sure, but at that level of candidate competitiveness it beats out a lot of other choices.

>Education

It's got a ton of extrinsic social reward in it. People like and respect teachers, and you get to see the result of your work when your students do well.

>nursing

Again, lots of extrinsic social reward. The people you care for get better and appreciate you, and you're part of the mission to help people get better. Keep the unpleasant cleaning and remove the thankfulness and you get janitorial work, which is male dominated.


Education and nursing do indeed require high amounts of training and preparation to enter, and education in particular is extremely competitive. Where are you getting this conjecture? Nursing is also dangerous- one risks horrific infection regularly and is exposed to human body fluids! I’m really thinking this might be a bunch of conjecture based on the ideals of these female-majority jobs, and perhaps not the reality of them. I’m also unsure how it reflects the proof of the original claim, that feminists are broadly not claiming they desire equality but something else, and once they achieve employment parity they will make moves towards inequitable employment.

Not motivated enough to research it right now, but last time I read about this I recall different choices made by men and women account for much of the pay gap, but there is still a residual gap even when you account for men and women performing the same job after everything else is taken into account.

Yes, I’m aware of this evidence. What I’d like is for the parent I was responding to to back up their very strong claims about the goal of feminists and the sorts of long form feminist employment change they’re claiming. I’ve never personally witnessed any study corroborating this phenomenon, but I also am not heavily researched in this area and am therefore welcome to innovative new data.

It is worth noting that Nima Sanandaji, the author of that and many similar books, is a proponent of small state, free markets, low tax, self determination and responsibility.

In other words, he is a libertarian type, that doesn't support the welfare state, and by extension doesn't support requiring employers to offer maternity and paternity leave.

He has also argued that Scandinavia is doing well due to the free markets, in spite of its social policy, in his book Scandinavian Unexceptionalism.

PS - Just trying to give some context. "Nordic Gender Equality Paradox" isn't an apolitical academic study, it is a book trying to push a certain political agenda.


I downvote you because the research withstands your attempted ad hominem attack. If the result is good we should not cast dispersion just because the researcher has a particular bias.

In fact those times when your ideology does not line up with scientific results are precisely when you should sit up and take notice that perhaps your ideology is failing you.


I wasn't commenting on academic research, I was commenting on the book The Nordic Gender Equality Paradox by Nima Sanandaji. Which is what the comment I was responding to was about.

You downvoted because you either didn't read the comment I responded to or didn't read my own in the context for which it was given.

Nima Sanandaji isn't a researcher and doesn't product academic, scientific, or sociological research. He's a political commentator who writes books and produces opinion pieces for political think-tanks.


As far as I know the research doesn't say much, and therefor doesn't withstand much either.

They can't tell you why preferences are different. It is all implied. A much more straight forward explanation is that developed countries have long histories. To become developed you need to have developed industries for a long time without too many wars. The idea that the preference of Indian women, were many industries are being developed as they get into job market, is remotely comparable to the preference of Swedish women were industries have already been developed for centuries isn't credible. It simply isn't an equal comparison. Yet, that is exactly what people are drawing these conclusions from.


> that doesn't support the welfare state, and by extension doesn't support requiring employers to offer maternity and paternity leave.

The second doesn't follow from the first. I generally support the welfare state, but I don't think that employers should pay for it directly; doing so significantly hinders smaller companies where a single ill/pregnant/vacationing person can cause a serious productivity disruption (especially if unplanned), even if they don't have to pay for it! Instead, I think the society/government should pay for social security, via taxes, that way it works like a very distributed insurance policy.


If anyone is looking for the book, evidently it is sold out, but you can download the ebook for free from the author:

http://nordicparadox.se/

Download is near the bottom of the page. PDF here: http://nordicparadox.se/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/The-Nordi...


I think this phenomenon was known a while back as the gender equality paradox[0]. It's always nice to see more data on the topic.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-equality_paradox


It's not much of a paradox surely.

Those countries introduced equality systems because the imbalance.

Now of course those same countries with the imbalance have those introduced systems.


Ah but why would those differences become greater after the introduction of the equality systems? That's the paradox.

It is only a paradox if one has calcified their thinking about the desires of women _in general_ in a particular way. If one starts from the presumption that men and women are exactly the same (in terms of desires and methods), than it is indeed a paradox. If one retains the traditional perspective, a much disliked but surprisingly defensible position, of the disparate desires of men and women, these results comport well with the presumption. Why you end up where you do is either confusing or predictable based on how you start, particularly in the world of unverified assertion.

> If one retains the traditional perspective, a much disliked but surprisingly defensible position, of the disparate desires of men and women, these results comport well with the presumption.

It's odd though how so often this "traditional" viewpoint is eager to suggest, "These are the preferences of women and their outcomes," when it's suggested women result in a net disadvantage, but is a crisis when men see these outcomes.

An excellent example of this is how a 6-10% wage gap is considered an acceptable outcome of biological differences and choice, but a 10% average difference in primary education among young men is a crisis, with multiple think tanks suggesting society caters too much to young women and that being a young man is "a liability."

This position is so common you can find it represented internationally in both the US and several European nations. It shows up in think tank materials like PraegerU videos and on America's Fox news.

In the context of the paper at hand, it seems particularly poignant how much effort goes to making one case but not the other.


>but a 10% average difference in primary education among young men is a crisis

I don't know how a PragerU video convinced you that this is considered a crisis outside the right-leaning think tanks but I haven't heard a single soul talk about it outside that sphere. It's easy to prop up what a political opponent labels important as something a lot of people care about but I certainly don't see this issue come up in entertainment or the public sphere at all yet the wage gap shows up everywhere.


It was on Fox news not even a week ago, and I've seen UK news segments on this as well.

I am fairly sure some of the audience here is acutely aware of this line of thinking. Note, for example, how many people are assuming I'm talking about the more common complaint of college statistics. I never once mentioned college or university. They think they know the argument I'm presenting even though I used language that in fact didn't present this population at all. The majority of respondents to my post have read into the argument, because they're aware of a variant of it, and have filled in the perceived gaps.


It is a general courtesy to indicate when you have retroactively edited your post.

More to the point, you were responding to a comment that had already introduced the caveat "outside of right wing circles," thereby rendering your observation a bit redundant.


1. I didn't substantially change the content of my post, only expanded on it in an obvious way.

2. "Outside of the political block with control of 2/3 of your government and an unpredictable split on the remaining third" is an absurd restriction to place on me for this conversation. Of course I ignored it. It was a disingenuous attempt to exclude politics from a subthread I had started specifically about government policies.


> An excellent example of this is how a 6-10% wage gap is considered an acceptable outcome of biological differences and choice, but a 10% average difference in primary education among young men is a crisis, with multiple think tanks suggesting society caters too much to young women and that being a young man is "a liability."

That's just so wrong... (1) it's not that 10% wage gap is considered an acceptable outcome, it's that wage gap (as a sexist discrimination) is a bogus concept in itself - obviously people with better/worse education, more/less experience that spend more/less time working are going to be paid more/less - e.g. noone complains about the much greater wage gap between old and young workers; (2) 10% education gap is a problem, just like it was a problem when less women went to school compared to men... and even that's mainly a problem because for a society it's beneficial to have highly-educated people, so it's worth considering the possibility that we're actually doing something "wrong" when it comes to education everyone and that maybe we could be doing something better (especially given that it's generally accepted that there is no difference in intelligence between the sexes).


(1) Young, talented people do this all the time. If your idea of how to dismiss this criticism is to suggest wage gaps themselves are fake and that somehow men are inherently more valuable to the workforce at an intrinsic level, you're going to have to do more than compare it to seniority-based compensation schemes.

(2) Tom, to be crystal clear: I think both dismissals are equally bad things to do. My point is that people, you included by the look of it, will suggest it is natural to see differences when said differences disadvantage women. But if a similarly important disadvantage befalls men, it is "a problem" which implies it must be corrected.

Why can't both things be bad?


Jordan Peterson said it best: There is no wage gap. There is an earnings gap.

So, nobody is suggesting that wage gaps are fake. They're asserting it as undisputable fact. Find a place where men and women of equal experience, time at work and so on are being paid differently because of their gender and you have an easy lawsuit on your hands. In practice this doesn't happen because such discrimination doesn't happen.

Women nonetheless earn less because of choices they make, like choosing to work in HR instead of software engineering. This is not a crisis.

Re: (2) you seem to be cherry picking. It's been shown that female primary school school teachers are biased towards girls and some researchers have even started suggesting that this is partly responsible for increased female grades over time. Regardless, virtually nobody is claiming the total and absolute dominance of women in primary-age teaching is a crisis or a problem that needs solving. In fact it's trivial to find cases where men appear to be disadvantaged relative to women and there's absolute silence from the media, from politicians, etc.


> Find a place where men and women of equal experience, time at work and so on are being paid differently because of their gender and you have an easy lawsuit on your hands. In practice this doesn't happen because such discrimination doesn't happen.

There are hundreds to thousands of such lawsuits every year. And within a month of California rolling back forced arbitration, more popped up. Including 2 high profile class action lawsuits.

Maybe instead of listening to a man who thinks synonyms are clever life advice, you should research the actual subject. Comments like this suggest you don't have any understanding of the subject at all.


» There are hundreds to thousands of such lawsuits every year. And within a month of California rolling back forced arbitration, more popped up. Including 2 high profile class action lawsuits.

Why can't we require all employers to disclose, if not to the public then at least to all employees, contractors, and associates, everyone's compensation information? Why do we allow this information to be private?

I've talked to a few people who are "woke" but when I bring up transparency, almost everyone balks. Almost everyone thinks they are above average when it comes to salary negotiation but I don't know why they prefer to drive blindfolded.

They say things like privacy but salary is public information for public sector employees.

Thoughts?


There's a list someone is maintaining here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gender_equality_lawsui...

It only has one in the last three years. Moreover, a quick news search for 'gender pay discrimination lawsuit' shows that most news articles discussing such things are actually more about #metoo / sexual harrassment stuff and always only allegations, it's much harder to find reports of actual findings of systematic discrimination. And in the rare cases it has happened, it's always arguable because the jobs are usually not directly comparable e.g. high level executives where personal performance can vary wildly and people are comparing across quite different jobs but claiming they're equal.

Your reply doesn't give me any new information to work with, and my own experiences and checks says this doesn't happen. In cases where men are getting paid more than women, it's usually because they're being more effective, not because their boss explicitly decided women should get paid less.


10% less education is similarly important to 10% less pay? One is opportunity, one is outcome...I think that's the idea

A person who is paid more has many more opportunities in their life should they choose to exercise that power (and in the case of poverty, the lack of money can literally determine your opportunity to live.

So I'm not sure I could possibly agree with your assertion as written.


> An excellent example of this is how a 6-10% wage gap is considered an acceptable outcome of biological differences and choice, but a 10% average difference in primary education among young men is a crisis, with multiple think tanks suggesting society caters too much to young women and that being a young man is "a liability."

You're comparing a difference in wages to a difference in population. The maximum range of a population difference is 100%, e.g. 0% of men go to college and 100% of women, which would be a scandalously large difference. The maximum range of a wage difference is arbitrarily large, e.g. a $200,000 doctor makes 1000% of what a $20,000 fast food worker does and that is not at all unexpected. It isn't even maximally large of the differences that exist in practice -- compare the compensation of Fortune 500 CEOs with part time migrant workers.

Moreover, if you want to see a large difference, what's with the gender balance in the prison population?


> You're comparing a difference in wages to a difference in population.

This is not actually correct (and in fact, I'm not talking about college and these numbers are not correct for college participation!), but even if it were, we can formulate wage problems in terms of populations.

> Moreover, if you want to see a large difference, what's with the gender balance in the prison population?

And it's a popular argument among MRAs, literally headlining much of their materials, that women receive much better treatment in the prison system than men. This is just another example of my argument: it's a problem if there is a bad outcome for men. It's not a problem if there is a bad outcome for women, it's "choice."


> This is not actually correct (and in fact, I'm not talking about college and these numbers are not correct for college participation!), but even if it were, we can formulate wage problems in terms of populations.

But then the numbers are completely different. If you look at something like gender balance at the 20th or 30th percentile income level for full time employees, there are more men at those below-median income levels than women. Then men are underrepresented around the middle, but women are highly underrepresented at the top. The people making millions or hundreds of millions a year bring the male average way up but that does nothing for the bottom 90+% of men who on average are actually making less than the average woman.

> This is just another example of my argument: it's a problem if there is a bad outcome for men. It's not a problem if there is a bad outcome for women, it's "choice."

The argument is that there should be consistency. If it's a problem in one case then it should be a problem in every case. We have laws against employer sex discrimination and a slew of programs to try to help women advance their careers. The wage gap is smaller now than it was 20 years ago, and smaller 20 years ago than it was 40 years ago. What analogous thing is actually being done to keep men out of prison? What progress has been made there?

You're also apparently claiming that going to prison is a choice in the same way that choosing a profession is. There is theoretically a choice whether to commit a crime or not, but in the Three Felonies a Day sense there isn't, and committing a crime is demonstrably not a prerequisite to going to prison anyway.


> But then the numbers are completely different. If you look at something like gender balance at the 20th or 30th percentile income level for full time employees, there are more men at those below-median income levels than women. Then men are underrepresented around the middle, but women are highly underrepresented at the top.

This is an excellent deflection, and it's also a relatively recent phenomenon. A surge in health care worker requirements which involve a lot of traditionally gendered roles has caused this outcome.

If you control for that, this effect is substantially less pronounced.

> The people making millions or hundreds of millions a year bring the male average way up but that does nothing for the bottom 90+% of men who on average are actually making less than the average woman.

And once again, we get to a phrasing of the problem that implies that it's a problem when men are at a disadvantage but inevitable when a woman is at a disadvantage.

> The argument is that there should be consistency. If it's a problem in one case then it should be a problem in every case. We have laws against employer sex discrimination and a slew of programs to try to help women advance their careers. The wage gap is smaller now than it was 20 years ago, and smaller 20 years ago than it was 40 years ago.

And these laws are largely toothless because of forced arbitration and Non-disparage agreements. The month California nullified these, a flood of class action lawsuits against major employers opened up. New York is considering such a law as well. I wonder if other states will have the courage to actually let the law come into play>

> What analogous thing is actually being done to keep men out of prison? What progress has been made there?

This is a common MRA talking point I encounter. I absolutely agree with you that incarceration rates are absurd and dehumanizing. It's a travesty of justice and in many cases a systemic attack on citizen's rights. This does not have any bearing on our current conversation, and we as a society _MUST_ be able to pursue more than one social justice issue at a time.

> You're also apparently claiming that going to prison is a choice in the same way that choosing a profession is.

No, you did that. I claimed it was the same as doing poorly in primary school. To be clear: I think that argument is as absurd as suggesting that it's strictly women's choices that disadvantage them.


> This is an excellent deflection, and it's also a relatively recent phenomenon. A surge in health care worker requirements which involve a lot of traditionally gendered roles has caused this outcome.

But that's the essence of the disparity. If you controlled for gendered roles, there would be no significant gender wage gap in any direction.

> And once again, we get to a phrasing of the problem that implies that it's a problem when men are at a disadvantage but inevitable when a woman is at a disadvantage.

Once again, the problem is the lack of consistency. If it's a problem that there are more men at the 99th percentile than women then it's a problem that there are more women at the 70th percentile than men. Either they're both problems or neither of them are.

> And these laws are largely toothless because of forced arbitration and Non-disparage agreements.

Something has been causing the wage gap to decline over time.

> The month California nullified these, a flood of class action lawsuits against major employers opened up. New York is considering such a law as well. I wonder if other states will have the courage to actually let the law come into play>

Arbitration agreements became popular when plaintiffs attorneys realized that defending against an unmeritorious lawsuit costs millions of dollars in legal expenses and companies would pay thousands of dollars to avoid paying millions of dollars. Arbitration agreements were a flawed attempt to defend against that practice. Eliminating them eliminates their flaws while reintroducing the problem they were adopted to solve to begin with, so what's your alternative solution for that?

> This is a common MRA talking point I encounter. I absolutely agree with you that incarceration rates are absurd and dehumanizing. It's a travesty of justice and in many cases a systemic attack on citizen's rights. This does not have any bearing on our current conversation, and we as a society _MUST_ be able to pursue more than one social justice issue at a time.

It does have bearing on our current conversation because it's the same issue. If gender imbalances are a problem that needs to be solved then they are a problem across the board regardless of which gender they favor in a particular context and they should be addressed in a consistent way. It is disingenuous to say that we should address imbalances that disfavor women today and imbalances that disfavor men at some indeterminate future date that in practice never comes. Neither or both, not one without the other.

> No, you did that. I claimed it was the same as doing poorly in primary school.

Which is essentially the same thing, when the argument for why boys are doing poorly in primary school is that they're being disciplined too often and disproportionately.

> To be clear: I think that argument is as absurd as suggesting that it's strictly women's choices that disadvantage them.

They are meant to be equally absurd. The point is that there is no universal gender adjustment that always applies in the same direction and with the same magnitude. You can't just average everything together into a scalar value and expect it to be meaningful or usefully inform policy.

If you have 17 male prison inmates, 80 male truck drivers, 100 female medical professionals and 3 male billionaires, just averaging their incomes by gender provides a very distorted picture of what is actually going on.


> But that's the essence of the disparity. If you controlled for gendered roles, there would be no significant gender wage gap in any direction.

Only if you ignored them. If you pass out a net economic benefit there is a gap. It's not as big as some stats name, but it's very much there.

Heck, the very study we're discussing asserts these metrics grow!

> Arbitration agreements became popular when plaintiffs attorneys realized that defending against an unmeritorious lawsuit costs millions of dollars in legal expenses and companies would pay thousands of dollars to avoid paying millions of dollars. Arbitration agreements were a flawed attempt to defend against that practice. Eliminating them eliminates their flaws while reintroducing the problem they were adopted to solve to begin with, so what's your alternative solution for that?

This wasn't ever really a problem to begin with. Forced arbitration is always worse for the workers and it's good that it's gone. They're as unethical as non-disparage agreements and no-competes.

> It does have bearing on our current conversation because it's the same issue. If gender imbalances are a problem that needs to be solved then they are a problem across the board regardless of which gender they favor in a particular context and they should be addressed in a consistent way. It is disingenuous to say that we should address imbalances that disfavor women today and imbalances that disfavor men at some indeterminate future date that in practice never comes. Neither or both, not one without the other.

Then treat them as such. Stop making excuses for one but not the other. I'm the one saying either both phenomenon need to be examined for systemic influence factors. You can't simultaneously dismiss one problem as "choice" and the other as "a problem" and retain any integrity.

> Which is essentially the same thing, when the argument for why boys are doing poorly in primary school is that they're being disciplined too often and disproportionately.

The stats I was quoting do not imply this. I've not heard boy children are disciplined in school more than girls.

> If you have 17 male prison inmates, 80 male truck drivers, 100 female medical professionals and 3 male billionaires, just averaging their incomes by gender provides a very distorted picture of what is actually going on.

Personally, I don't believe you're accidentally ignoring the number of women engaged in the strenuous but uncompensated labor of homemaking who are conveniently stricken from such discussions but if considered along with male homemakers destroy the average you're distribution you're attempting to describe.


> Only if you ignored them. If you pass out a net economic benefit there is a gap. It's not as big as some stats name, but it's very much there.

Pay gap after controlling for occupation is 2%. This is statistical margin of error territory.

https://www.payscale.com/data/gender-pay-gap

> Heck, the very study we're discussing asserts these metrics grow!

...when you give women more choices. What do you propose, stop offering free childcare etc. in the hopes that it causes more women to choose a career over having children?

> This wasn't ever really a problem to begin with.

Litigious trolls and wasting millions of dollars on unmeritorious litigation is an actual problem that actually happens.

> I'm the one saying either both phenomenon need to be examined for systemic influence factors. You can't simultaneously dismiss one problem as "choice" and the other as "a problem" and retain any integrity.

Who is claiming that? People argue that each thing could be true, but who is arguing that it's true for women and not men?

There is a valid conditional argument that goes like this. a) It's a result of choices, therefore not a problem. b) If you don't accept a) and continue to believe that it's a problem for women, then it's also a problem for men in the same way.

That is no inconsistent state there. If a) is true then it isn't a problem for either gender, if b) is true then it is a problem for both genders. At no point is it true for one gender but not the other.

Moreover, what seems to actually happen is that people say it's a problem for women and move to take steps against it without even considering that it could be a problem for men, and then no steps are taken against the problem for men. And if someone points that out, they get called inconsistent even though what they're asking for is consistency.

> The stats I was quoting do not imply this. I've not heard boy children are disciplined in school more than girls.

https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-06-22/boys-bear-th...

> Personally, I don't believe you're accidentally ignoring the number of women engaged in the strenuous but uncompensated labor of homemaking who are conveniently stricken from such discussions but if considered along with male homemakers destroy the average you're distribution you're attempting to describe.

Only if you assign a value of zero to the homemaking work, which is obviously unreasonable. The homemaker's household is the "employer", but because the "employer" and "employee" share finances, the credit and the debit both go to the same account and cancel out. That isn't the same as being uncompensated. If the work was uncompensated there would be an outstanding balance at the end. It's like how a programmer who writes software for personal use is neither getting it for free nor working for nothing -- the cost is in labor and the payment is in software.

And in addition to receiving the value of the homemaking services, the household also has the benefit of not paying any of the taxes that would be owed if the same labor was performed on the books, and not pushing the household's tax return into the higher tax brackets.

So what's the market value of a 24/7/365 on-call polymath with a job description requiring them to do absolutely anything that comes up? (There's a reason families can only afford it when the other spouse makes a lot of money.)


> Pay gap after controlling for occupation is 2%. This is statistical margin of error territory.

That's actually a discredited stat, but a persistent 2% discrepancy is definitionally not an error as you so slyly present here.

> Litigious trolls and wasting millions of dollars on unmeritorious litigation is an actual problem that actually happens.

So do meteor strikes on datacenters. It's not worth actually fortifying your roof; it won't make a difference anyways. Arbitration is a bad rule, it's an anti-worker rule, it's bad for the tech industry, and it's also a very expensive expectation for small companies to try and support.

If you think it's a net win, you're either siding very strongly with large corporations in exclusion of everyone else or you haven't actually examined the financials of a small tech business.

> Moreover, what seems to actually happen is that people say it's a problem for women and move to take steps against it without even considering that it could be a problem for men, and then no steps are taken against the problem for men. And if someone points that out, they get called inconsistent even though what they're asking for is consistency.

If the problem is, "Now men have less systemic power and advantage" then no, you shouldn't expect payback for that. I thought folks were all in for the meritocracy here.

> Only if you assign a value of zero to the homemaking work, which is obviously unreasonable. The homemaker's household is the "employer", but because the "employer" and "employee" share finances, the credit and the debit both go to the same account and cancel out. That isn't the same as being uncompensated. If the work was uncompensated there would be an outstanding balance at the end. It's like how a programmer who writes software for personal use is neither getting it for free nor working for nothing -- the cost is in labor and the payment is in software.

This is an absolutely absurd argument. Not only do your prior salary distribution arguments ignore homemakers, you now reveal they do so on pure sophistry. You cannot eat cancelled debt, children are not clothed on those ideas. And women shouldn't be entirely beholden to their households for life.

If women end up with no money in pocket at the end of the day for what everyone agrees is difficult work with long hours, but then you IGNORE them in your salary distributions to say, "Why can't we focus more on how men feel about all this," that makes you look pretty misogynistic.

> And in addition to receiving the value of the homemaking services, the household also has the benefit of not paying any of the taxes that would be owed if the same labor was performed on the books, and not pushing the household's tax return into the higher tax brackets.

You are speaking as someone who has not run the numbers. Even modest minimum wage would radically outperform your minuscule tax benefits here. And again, I note that you only speak to "the household" and not to the actual individual women, a tic in your prose suggesting exactly the scenario you're envisioning and how women must struggle to successfully escape it should they feel the need to.

> So what's the market value of a 24/7/365 on-call polymath with a job description requiring them to do absolutely anything that comes up? (There's a reason families can only afford it when the other spouse makes a lot of money.)

Why don't we require private interests that benefit from this essential labor to fund a reasonable working wage for this then? I am genuinely all for this. And then suddenly your aforementioned male salary woes become very prominent in the distributions, and women aren't compelled to stay with abusive partners because they don't have the resources to leave. We can focus on your evidently very urgent problems, and women get compensated fairly and may freely choose how to apply that (taxed, surely) compensation to their household.

No one disagrees on the societal benefits of strong parental involvement in childhood development. No one disagrees that this has a powerful effect on local, state and national economics. This is perhaps the single most unquestioned axiom in the politics of the developed world! The only question, raised here and elsewhere, is how equitable the arrangement is to women.


I feel as if you are making an apples to oranges comparison (but I don't perceive any ill will so I am responding in good faith and with no intention to politick) in terms of gender pay gap and decreasing male inclusion in higher education.

I am glad you used the more accurate numbers of 7-10% in terms of male/female pay. From my perspective, the innate differences between the sexes explains this gap quite well: men are motivated from a very young age, in addition to their general biological proclivity towards competition, to seek approval through public acts to gain status; women are motivated from a very young age, in addition to their general biological proclivity towards hording value, to seek influence through private acts to gain status. There are plenty of specific examples that run contrary to my assertion, but in general, men seem adapted to the corporate system which would lead one to expect them to dominate therein. Regardless of classical dominance hierarchy, there is massive combined interest actively working to inject as many females as possible into high paying, white collar jobs.

In terms of higher education, the decrease in male participation is a significant problem because male participation in higher education was tenuous at best even before female inclusion began. Though higher education was indeed a "boys club," it was a very small club. Just because it was "all" male does not extend it into being "all male." The moment the gates opened for females, they took over the majority in public universities within a decade. They continue to dominate in education to this day. Metaphor is a dangerous game, but I think one should worry more about bad students getting worse than good students getting more attention.

In my opinion you make a very salient point about the difference in the reaction of people to the two problems. I see them as similar because both endeavours (more females in corporate && more males in education) are fighting both a biological tendency as well as cultural norms, no simple task in a world of consensus, and I don't have to elaborate and how very far away from that we are.


As far as I know it doesn't actually say that. The comparison is between countries, not before and after reforms. The paradox is supposedly that countries with higher equality have higher gender differences. But it isn't really a paradox since correlation isn't causation.

What's curious to me about this stance is no one questions if the measures taken, when coupled to there outcomes, don't suggest failed policies.

"Well we made policies and they didn't do what we expected, therefore women are making choices!" seems to me (with an American bias perhaps) to be a failure in the design or implementation of the policies, rather than immediately blaming women.

I'm surprised how credulously people engage these policies


I agree with your skepticism, but it's important not to fall back on the other end : i.e., "I know there's no difference between men and women therefore the policies are wrong !"

Second, I don't think anyone is blaming women here. Choosing (or being pressured by the environment) to have more 'gendered' (whatever that means) career path is not necessarily a bad thing.

It can become a bad thing if it hinders opportunity, but not before


> I agree with your skepticism, but it's important not to fall back on the other end : i.e., "I know there's no difference between men and women therefore the policies are wrong !"

An awful lot of women have negative things to say about that situation, so maybe I should just quote them?

I don't think I am falling back on the "other side" here. I'm pointing out that the effectiveness of these measures seems quite low according to the data. It's odd to assume that the entire effect is therefore determined uniquely by "women's choice." Is there evidence of that?

It's one thing to say, "Keep an open mind." It's another to hedge off what's at least an equally likely scenario from discussion at all, which with the flood of downvotes I'm getting certainly seems like what's happening to me


"I'm pointing out that the effectiveness of these measures seems quite low according to the data"

No ... the data shows that there is actually more equal opportunity, and yet there is gender divergence.

The objective was never to 'equalize choices or outcomes' in fields - it was to provide access and opportunity, which is happening.

It would be really, really hard to argue against the flood of data points indicating women have considerably greater choice, flexibility and support especially in places like Sweden ... and then to have women doing different things, highlights the apparent paradox.


> No ... the data shows that there is actually more equal opportunity, and yet there is gender divergence.

Actually, it shows that there are more of these "opportunity metrics." But we need to ask how reflective of reality these metrics actually are, don't we? If the metrics are bad, that's also another explanation of this "paradox." If someone says, "equal time for paternity and maternity should cause this outcome", but it didn't... well... then we need to examine every reason why that might be? It could be that the law is counterproductive, that men are choosing not to exercise rights, that women are choosing to exercise their rights differently, or that the measures themselves were not actually effective (either by not addressing root causes, or by not actually being deployed effectively).

Why is this question controversial?


I think it's controversial because of the implied assumption that given equality measures, there would be basically equal outcomes ... and that if we don't see that, then for some reason should be skeptical. I don't think we should be. I think we should mostly trust the data.

After my long while on this planet, I'm of the inclination that gender is existential and that only a huge degree of social coercion would lead to some kind of equal outcomes.

In other words, the data I think agrees with many people's intuition, and that the continued quest to fix outcomes is maybe kind of more ideological than not.

As you point out, there are other ways to look at it, and surely we could dig deeper on this ... but we have a number of studies that are pointing towards the same thing.

I think we're probably going to have to accept that the world is gendered, and that this will mean some deviations here and there from a specific kind of aesthetic egalitarian which is neither possible, nor in the case of most people I think even aspirational.

I think most fields that women want to actually break into, they'll be able to do that in sufficient capacity even if it's not 50/50. But I also believe that in 100 years, the vast majority carpenters will still be men, that women will still be choosing to be primary caregivers to children more of then than men, and that we'll probably still be arguing about this.


> I think it's controversial because of the implied assumption that given equality measures, there would be basically equal outcomes ... and that if we don't see that, then for some reason should be skeptical. I don't think we should be. I think we should mostly trust the data.

I'm curious: do you know what these metrics actually are? Have you investigated how they are defined or what they're measuring? If so, do you find them sufficient? I ask out of genuine curiosity, because I'm having a lot of trouble fidning metrics that are not ad hoc or that don't have a lot of tricky assumptions about household income.

> I think we're probably going to have to accept that the world is gendered, and that this will mean some deviations here and there from a specific kind of aesthetic egalitarian which is neither possible, nor in the case of most people I think even aspirational.

One of the reasons I'm making a point of objecting to this is that folks like you are essentially reading this as a confirmation of a whole host of biases, which will subsequently (and have historically) been used to disadvantage a bunch of people. There isn't a question if "the world is gendered." In fact, the only people who assert this are in fact trans-exclusionary radical feminists and they're quite radical indeed.

So the question is not, "Is the world gendered?" But, "Are the measures we're taking sufficient to assure that talented individuals in any given field are not unduly coerced by social pressure to give up that work."

> I think most fields that women want to actually break into, they'll be able to do that in sufficient capacity even if it's not 50/50. But I also believe that in 100 years, the vast majority carpenters will still be men, that women will still be choosing to be primary caregivers to children more of then than men, and that we'll probably still be arguing about this.

This does seem like a significant simplification of the argument at hand. It's somewhat misleading as it stands to suggest that we should actually see 50/50 splits, and again in fact very few people suggest this. They suggest that systemic biases actually impact a variety of people to coerce their behavior in order to cater to these patterns. For example, women are multiply penalized by their choice to have childbirth, and men face systemic disadvantages if they want to be primary caretakers.

I'm not sure who you're retorting with this, but it isn't a common sentiment that the world is not gendered, just that gender is more nuanced than folks like to admit. I don't think anyone genuinely expects to see 50/50 splits in every profession, but we might expect to see more than 0.05% representation in boardrooms while also facing a storm of controversy about how male executives receive millions of dollars for sexually harassing women and abusing their power over other people's jobs.


> It's odd to assume that the entire effect is therefore determined uniquely by "women's choice." Is there evidence of that?

I don't think anyone is claiming choice is the "entire effect" but I do think there is evidence that choice is the overwhelming effect. Let me ask this, do the women you know complain about an under-representation of women working at Discount Tire or in the field of Underwater Welding?

In America, during WWII a large number of women went into these types of occupations because of war time necessity and they showed they could perform the required duties just fine. But after the war most returned to traditional domestic roles. Are you saying that was not, by and large, their choice?


It wasn’t their choice. Most women wanted to keep their jobs after the war and were refused rehire.[1] I would argue that the history of female employment demographics is highly complex and has a multitude of factors, with each factor constituting of many sub-factors. The study in this thread provides an excellent evidence of one behavior, but the amount of heuristics that feed into this behavior is up for massive debate and question, many of which are politically unattractive on both sides, resulting in dissatisfaction of any academic research into any one influencing factor and also any research into a holistic heuristic evaluation... by focusing on this example, you may be over-simplifying the behavior the study is representing.

[1]http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/7027/


They where forced out :-(

FWIW, I upvoted your grand-parent comment but downvoted this.

People are trying to have an open discussion here, and I agree that we should keep as open a mind as possible. Part of that precludes the notion of falling back into another ideology, which the parent to this comment is warning about. They are not blaming you of doing it, just warning.

There exists many theories as to why this is happening, we should identify the data we have and determine the most plausible theories based on evidence and research. That's the only rational way forward.


I'm confused. Can you identify where I didn't do that in the comment that you decided to disagree-by-downvoting?

I'm quite tired of being warned of drawing conclusions I did not draw, while taking 10-15 karma point penalties. From my perspective, I'm receiving overwhelming feedback that even questioning these programs at the level of efficacy is unwanted and I should be silenced.

I can't really work out how these votes are actually reflective of a disruptive presence in the conversation, unless the idea is to avoid asking that question in any capacity.

> There exists many theories as to why this is happening, we should identify the data we have and determine the most plausible theories based on evidence and research. That's the only rational way forward.

Then I find your response to be disappointing. If the goal is an open debate, shouldn't we actually question these base assertions that underly and inform the statistical machinery of the study?


At first you asserted: that it's possible that these outcomes could have been a byproduct of a failure to remove barriers to men and women going into workforce's which are majority dominated by their opposite sex.

In fact you asserted that point quite strongly, and the reply was to the effect: "It's possible, but lets not just assume, since many people are already doing that"

At which point you double-down on defending your original position with no data, instead pressuring the commenter to provide you evidence.

You are not being downvoted for having an opinion, you are being downvoted for how you go about having your opinion.


Well, I don't agree with that at all. I'm surprised by the lack of skepticism towards the policies themselves.

Can you count the number of other people in this entire discussion asking the same question? For awhile, I think I was the only one!

It's quite obvious to me that you and others do not want to even enterain these questions, to the point where you're offended and candidly talking about disagree-by-doenvote for considering a fairly obvious question.

This is a discussion forum. But you're not pointing to a way in which I was hurting the discussion. You're talking about muting my questions using downvotes because you find the idea of considering them as a tough experiment offensive.


I've given you time to cool off, and for the conversation to die down so I can reply candidly.

>Well, I don't agree with that at all.

That's fine, But that's how I saw it and how others probably saw it so I was providing insight. It's my subjective opinion and you don't really get to decide that I was wrong. I would advise choosing your words better if you think you were misunderstood.

>I'm surprised by the lack of skepticism towards the policies themselves.

I'm not going to ask for evidence of this because I find it to be condescending. However the reply to your first comment was stating explicitly: "I agree". And, frankly so do I. So that's at least 2 people in this thread alone.

> Can you count the number of other people in this entire discussion asking the same question?

None when you originally posted, again, that you brought up the topic is not a problem. The response was just a warning that there are people who wish to throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to this.

The response should be not: "I seriously question the validity of all metrics." it should be "How do we define what metrics work" and "this metric is broken because it doesn't account for <x>". Unless you disagree, in which case I'm curious to know why.

>It's quite obvious to me that you and others do not want to even enterain[sic] these questions

Very happy to entertain these questions, but they're not presented that way in your reply. Somehow it seems you got offended of being branded something you weren't (which, I too get frustrated with) and replied in a tone which was not entertaining the question, merely deriding those who would not tell you exactly what you wanted to hear.

>to the point where you're offended and candidly talking about disagree-by-doenvote for considering a fairly obvious question.

I commented explaining _exactly_ why I downvoted you. I didn't disagree. Your tone was not conducive to a discussion, merely sowing derision on those who would not tell you that all metrics are bad. This is not how you discuss. How you discuss is by saying "These specific metrics are bad due to <x>." or "What are the metrics by which we measure?" NOT "Well, if it's the case that the more 'equal' we are the more unequal we become is; then all the metrics are bad" because the latter reeks of ignorance and while that's fine as an opening question it does not hold up if that's all your follow up comments are concerning.

I can't tell you how _not_ offended I am. Just take my word for the fact that I couldn't really give a shit, I'm here to have my world view opened up not force my opinions down anyones throats.. unless it comes to systemd. I get offended by systemd.

>This is a discussion forum

Exactly, so let's have a discussion and not beat each other over the head with accusations and a lack of research. This goes for all of us and it includes you.


> I can't tell you how _not_ offended I am. Just take my word for the fact that I couldn't really give a shit, I'm here to have my world view opened up not force my opinions down anyones throats.. unless it comes to systemd. I get offended by systemd.

This is an extremely normal thing for a person who is not mad and not offended to write. Your self-imposed nihilistic stoicism is cracking.

You're mad because you don't find my tone sufficiently deferential. I don't mind.

I my estimation, my mistake was engaging you further at all. You basically admitted to rules violation for downvotes and then defended it as saying, "You were not sufficiently receptive to my backhanded agreement."

But that's an unreasonable expectation. I don't expect you to understand why that is. Just like I don't expect you to understand what usecases systemd is actually dramatically superior for.

In the interests of the integrity of this forum and in not wasting our time further, I'm going to use a user script I have to block further posts by you for 3 months. Perhaps next time we engage each other it'll be over less of a life-or-death issue, and I can approach it with an attitude you find less frustrating. Thank you for your time, all the same.


Wow, I've responded cogently, earnestly and in good faith to everything you've posted.

This behaviour is pathetic. Please do not treat people like this in real life.


To this reader, nothing you've written is cogent, earnest, or in good faith, fwiw. I'm seeing a lot of projection, dissembly, disingenuousness, and now insults. Mods, are you seeing this or what?

I would be very interested to see what a moderator thinks about my conduct.

But the systems have further increased the imbalance rather than decrease it.

The link doesn’t say that though.

And if it has happened, how would 'systems not working well' make it a paradox?


Which is a good thing right?

What are the goals here? the top level responses I see are using this as an opportunity to talk about why experience is lacking, or as if this is an ironic outcome showing how its all a waste of time to get to the same result of the domesticated housewife.

I think at this point, focusing exclusively on the highest selective evolution of "merit" and skill is the flaw. If we are trying to grow the economic pie and cater to the most people, then hiring/career growth practices based on "the best" at the theoretical best academic or refined practice will have diminishing returns for companies. And this isn't saying that there is no circumstance where women or some other subgroup would be able to conform to the strict merit based regime in proportional numbers as incumbent groups. It is saying that the barking up this tree is flawed to begin with, if you can address a greater market by having a variety of views of the market.

Now that we have participation in the workforce, it would be more productive addressing how goods and resources are appropriated amongst people that help in any way, how incentives are aligned with the growth of the effort.


It's the expected outcome. Male dominated/inequitable societies will cater to male preferences.

It's insane to think that increasing gender equity would turn women into men. Instead it allows women to be women, which is a good outcome.

Unfortunately SJWs/affirmative action would have you believe that equality is sameness. Forcing women to be men is not equitable.


This summarized my view as well. If you plot the share of women's majors over time, computing's decline coincides with an increase in medical and law school enrollment. If, say, a woman wanted to be a doctor or lawyer but knew society wouldn't respect women in these roles and chose computing instead, was that a good thing? I'd say no.

I like to joke with people, there is an extremely simple way of solving the gender gap in tech: universities can just mandate that a certain percentage of women major in computing related fields. Just select 30% of women by lottery and forbid them to choose a major other than computing related ones. Of course, most reasonable people are against such a measure.


I'm all for facetious humor but this is a bad joke for this thread

Perhaps "joke" is the wrong term, it's more of a thought exercise. The point is to illustrate the fact that equal representation at the expense of agency is not a good thing - which absolutely is relevant to the discussions going on in this thread.

It's not a joke or even a thought experiment. The Soviet Union basically did exactly that and had >50% female participation in CS courses.

I wonder how it adjusts for culturally pushed gender differences. Women could have the same opportunities as men but be expected to have different tastes, be subjected to different experiences growing up, etc. which could affect their choices in latter life.

I'm fairly visual-spatial. I now make little websites and take photos and play SimCity. But when I was a homemaker, this largely got expressed as an interest in clothes and household decor because those were basically the avenues open to me. It wasn't particularly fulfilling.

I thought dressing well and being pretty would get me a happy marriage. It didn't. I thought having a nice home would get me a satisfactory social life. It didn't.

I liked being a mom and I liked being home with my kids, but a lot of the rest of it wasn't really what I expected or wanted.

I spent a lot of years pursuing some mirage where I thought X would get me Y and being disappointed. I also spent those years sorting out why my life didn't work and resolving a lot of issues.

There are ways in which I'm very stereotypically feminine and have a history of reading to others as very feminine. But I actually don't enjoy cooking, never learned to sew or crochet or similar, etc.

I've worked hard at sorting this for myself so my life can stop making me crazy. It tends to be a lot of drama when I try to comment on it. No matter how carefully I say "X research resonated with me personally and was useful for me personally in making my life work better," inevitably other people will jump up and say (in essence) "Well, that isn't true for me and you are evil and bad and wrong for saying this is true for women generally and you don't represent me!!!!!" type nonsense.

It's insane amounts of drama that is essentially unrelated to whatever I actually said and it makes it nigh impossible to have any kind of meaningful discussion.

I think some of what I've learned over the years does generalize. But I am increasingly reluctant to try to say anything about such because that's even more drama than saying "X made sense for me as an individual trying to sort my own life."

Based on those experiences, the odds seem long against there ever being research that really seriously sorts this for "the world."


"I thought X would get me Y and being disappointed."

This is most of us, most of the time, in most endeavours, and I don't think it's a gender thing.


I wasn't suggesting it was a gender thing. I was suggesting it was a thing I struggled with in my youth. That's it.

Good work figuring this out for yourself. Part of me wants to say “use your voice to tell your story so others like you don’t feel alone” but having experienced some similar things in my own life, I understand how it’s usually not worth going to battle.

I still wish folks would stay over more often, though.


> inevitably other people will jump up and say (in essence) "Well, that isn't true for me and you are evil and bad and wrong for saying this is true for women generally and you don't represent me!!!!!" type nonsense.

Your detractors are engaging in the No True Scotsman fallacy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman One of the issues is that identity is, for most, a very emotional construct and anything which threatens that will illicit an emotional threat response - anger, lashing out, attacking. The best response is to, as much as possible, simply ignore those responses and continue doing what you'd like to do - the same as researchers will hopefully continue to do. In old adage form - "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink."


My firsthand experience has been that simply ignoring such responses tends to lead to the individual in question behaving in an increasingly unhinged fashion and actively hounding me as if they will not be satisfied until I reply to them in specific.

But perhaps that isn't really an argument for not simply ignoring them. It's just the reason I have tended to not go that route historically.


As one of my peers noticed one time: "I can't solve other peoples problems for them, but I can choose to leave them out of my life when they refuse to solve their own issues."

You do sound fairly exceptional. Would you rather not be?

I tend to feel about my life like that comment about democracy: It's the worst thing ever... Except for all the rest.

Also: Hell is other people.


[flagged]


My mother had a great social life. It involved inviting people over, serving dinner, having the ability to allow people to stay overnight as guests.

Replicating the nice dining table and means to allow for overnight guests failed to magically cause guests to appear. I never figured out what piece of the puzzle I was missing. My mother put a lot of emphasis on being able to serve her guests and make them comfortable and she was always surrounded by adoring friends and relatives. I tried to do the same. Somehow, that didn't get me a lively social life.


> I never figured out what piece of the puzzle I was missing.

You might then be interested in doing some research on the 60s term "vibes". It could be that it was your mother's vibes, more than the house decor, which must have made her socially attractive.

But yea I see what you are saying in essence. It has been part of your "social conditioning" (if we do X we get Y). In (traditional) India, one stellar example of the male social conditioning is that "if I get a good paying job, I'll get a pretty wife".


I don't know why people are reacting so negatively. It's a normal occurrence for there to be "people persons" who are great at creating and maintaining a social life and doing these kinds of events, and many of us introverts being unable to replicate that... (Actually, I personally am able to create a lot of friends, but it's mostly through the introvert's favorite venue - online chats)

Maybe you spent so much time trying to create an environment, you forgot to make friends?

That said, modern generations are more about going out and doing things in short social engagements. People 'feel' very busy, and the idea of an overnight stay may be too much commitment for someone that doesn't feel they have a strong friendship with you.


There were many differences between my life and my mother's life. I don't actually want to hash this out further. It would be nice if the entire internet would not make wild speculation about why I failed to replicate the extraordinarily wonderful social life my mother managed to have.

Well maybe if you just tried harder, it would work! /s

I'm right there with you. People are much different than they used to be; it's normal now to not even know your neighbors, let alone talk with them. I've had people decline dinner invitations, and former friends outright ignore my messages. I mean, I hope I'm not the problem but the thought crosses my mind. It sucks, especially if you want those relationships you saw your parents have but no one else around seems to.


I don't understand why people care so much whether preferences are biological or cultural. (Well, I understand it if we assume they are being dishonest, so assuming that something is not biological allows them to claim that it can be changed to whatever they think is morally superior. The debate whether being gay is cultural is a good example.)

If I am given a true freedom to choose, to decide according to my preferences, what does it matter what is the reason for these preferences? What does it matter, how did I acquire my tastes? They are MY tastes.


I don't understand why people care so much whether preferences are biological or cultural.

Basically because if it is cultural, it may be a form of brainwashing and the expressed preference may actually be something they loathe, but don't feel empowered to reject.

Whether or not you think this matters for purposes of making policy, it matters a whole lot for purposes of an individual figuring out how to create a good life for themselves.


"the expressed preference may actually be something they loathe, but don't feel empowered to reject"

But we can ask them, right? We can ask e.g. nurses and computer programmers whether or not they loathe the choice of their profession. If there is e.g. relatively more computer programmers loathing it than nurses then you have an evidence of culturally pushed preference (towards computer programming, in this case), regardless what the gender ratio in those fields is.

"it matters a whole lot for purposes of an individual figuring out how to create a good life for themselves"

I already responded to that, basically I don't think it matters for an individual: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18381148


No, you cannot just ask. It's more complicated than that, as Amartya Sen laid out in many publications on his capability theory. People have "adaptive preferences".[1]

For example, if you ask a women in a very poor rural region of India whether she wants to become an engineer, she might value the possibility far less than she would if that career choice was a realistic, valuable option for her in her current situation. Other typical examples would be slaves who prefer to remain slaves because they are not in a position to really imagine life as a free man, women who state that they prefer to wear a Burka, because they have been raised that way, or a peasant in feudal times who would only have very modest aspirations because he could not possibly imagine living the life of a nobleman whose higher rights were given by God.

More generally speaking, the underlying problem is that the so-called "preference satisfaction view" is false.[2: p. 4] That's the idea of classical welfare economics that people prefer what's best for them. As Broome puts it, nobody really believes it, but it forms the basis of many arguments and theorizing.

So you cannot just ask, although surveys can be used as (potentially fallible) indicators.

[1] https://www.iep.utm.edu/sen-cap/#SH1b [2] https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/ethics-out-of-economics...


Maybe people don't always prefer what's best for them, but I believe that even when they don't, they are the best arbiter of that. In other words, maybe they don't know what's best for them but then neither does anybody else.

I mean, when I talk about asking, you can make education part of the asking the question. I am certainly not against more education, like showing what is it like to be engineer.

I might disagree with women who decide willingly to wear burka, or decide to be slaves, even if they have a different choice, but as long as they make it freely, I have to respect that choice.


Go ahead and respect it! But the question was whether we can look at those expressed preferences and declare that our job is done and employment opportunities are fair. And the answer is absolutely not.

If I understand you correctly there is a short reply to your kind of critique in Section 5 of the first link I gave, under the subsection titled "Illiberalism". It's a viable critique that has been (and still is) discussed extensively, of course.

Interesting. I will have to think about it more, but I can't say I completely agree with Rawls either. I don't agree that economic value of things is completely subjective, either.

It seems to me that these problems should be addressed with education first, rather than by imposing someone else's preference on people (which is my main worry here). Therefore, that some rural Indian women might decide differently is not really transferable to decisions made by well-educated women in western postindustrial societies.


I'm not sure why you think that women saying they don't enjoy their careers in programming means they are being forced into programming. If you want to measure that, ask them that question directly. Most of the women I know who are dissatisfied with their programming careers have that opinion because (for example) they are constantly harassed and HR does nothing about it, or because people working with them regularly assume that they don't have the intellectual capacity for their jobs and treat them like children, not because they don't like the act of programming; with the way you are proposing to measure preferences, there would be no observable difference between those two things.

With the wast majority of the population (using Swedish data) working in industries that is gender segregated, there is plenty of studies asking why student switch program, people switch job, and people switching profession. In that there is an interesting pattern found a rather long time ago, which is that those in minority position has a significant higher ratio of leaving a profession compared to the majority. Equally for both male and female dominated professions.

So I usually look for common explanation for gender segregation that work both for women and men. 87.4% gender segregation for men and 87.6% for women is rather extreme, but it is also quite obvious that either there is a common cause or a massive coincident that both men and women end up working in mostly single gender work places.


I don't think we really disagree here. I am all for asking the question about preferences directly, and respecting the individual preference, whatever it is.

"Learned helplessness" is a thing. If people have been told their entire lives from birth that X is strictly Verboten and they can only answer Y to that question, they may literally be unable to tell you that. They may not really understand it themselves. It may be literally unspeakable and even unthinkable.

Is it a thing, or is it something made up by psychologists and social activists with an agenda?

It would appear to be unfalsifiable. If someone is sure they don't want X, and you're telling them they really do want X it's just that they've learned to be pathetic their whole life and now their entire thought process is inferior to yours, that seems not only like pseudo-science but actually a dangerously extreme belief.


It might well be a thing but I am not sure if I can truly (or should) help somebody who explicitly says that there is no problem and they don't need help. Assuming they are deemed to be legally competent.

I don't know what all else has been said to you here, but I am absolutely not asking you to help such people.

You said you don't understand why other people care so much about sorting out what is biological and what is cultural in origin. A few people (me included) engaged you in discussion to explain why other people might desire to get a better handle on this.

I have no idea why you jump from that to some idea that you personally are being expected to do anything for anyone other than let such research exist so that those who do care and need it can find such info.


I guess it's fine if you decide to help people who don't want the help according to their own preferences, but if you want to make the society at large to help (e.g. through some customs or laws), then I should have a say in it, as a society member.

Because if it is purely cultural then aiming for 50/50 gender parity across all industries is a reasonable goal.

If it is not, it is a 'terrible', 'terrible' idea to approach gender equality from that angle.


Why would 50/50 gender parity across all industries ever be a desirable goal? Coal mining is male dominated -- should we push more women into becoming coal miners?

> Why would 50/50 gender parity across all industries ever be a desirable goal?

If women and men "are indeed biologically identical in their job preferences" you could argue a good measure for real equality of opportunity would be 50/50 parity across industries. Because given a fair shake everyone would be evenly distributed across all industries (since we have the same preferences).


"job preferences" is not the same as job aptitude.

In a free market system people are going to be pushed into the jobs for which they have the most aptitude (or out of the workforce if their aptitude is too low/lower than machines) regardless of their preferences.


You could, but I don't think it's fair. Shouldn't it be: If women and men (or any other classification) are indeed biologically identical in job preference, willingness to work in the first place, and aptitude, the quota in each job should reflect the basis distribution?

Just assuming that all of these are the equal might hide the actual problem we want to fix. Or might point to asymmetries we might not want to fix.

Of course, the 50/50 gender parity has also a different motivation, trying to address the culturally influenced preference. The argument goes like this: Because of historical reasons, some professions are male dominated. Girls are not interested in these professions because female role models are missing. So if we force the promotion of female role models, this historically created bias will vanish.


Coal mining is a historic industry; we should not be pushing anybody into coal mining (Looking at you, Australia)

I’m assuming you picked coal mining because it’s an example of a dirty, dangerous position in an industry that’s rightfully stigmatised by most modern countries.

If you’re suggesting that we shouldn’t push women into dangerous jobs but it’s okay to push men into them, then I would counter that we should make dangerous jobs safer for everybody and no, there’s no fundamental reason that women should not have the opportunity to work in these industries.


> If you’re suggesting that we shouldn’t push women into dangerous jobs but it’s okay to push men into them

No I didn't suggest this.

My question was not about energy policies. Let's substitute coal miners for waste collectors (colloquially referred to as garbage men, because 99% of them are male), and ask the question again.

Garbage collection is male dominated -- should we push more women into becoming garbage collectors?


If I'm reading https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat18.htm correctly, ~82% of waste collectors are male.

On the other hand, ~42% of meat processors are women; that is certainly a dirty, dangerous unfun job.

The real male-dominated industries are lawn care, sewage treatment, and repair and maintenance. Coal mining is too small an industry to report demographics, but mining as a whole is "only" ~88% male.


We shouldn't push anyone into anything. Why is it ok for a man to be a garbage collector and not a woman? That sounds like gender inequality to me. You can't have it both ways.

I don't think anyone is saying that's it's "not OK" for a woman to be a garbage collector. Some are saying that the fact that women are generally not garbage collectors is a problem.

I honestly don't know where I stand on that. While I absolutely believe that much of the disparity in preference is cultural, I'm apt to believe that some of it is biological. Further, I'm not sure eradicating that cultural bias is beneficial.


Its also highly paid at least in the west even more so when you get to supervisory roles eg £2k for a single 10 hour weekend shift for a pit deputy.

I think the question "why is parity a desirable goal" is valid and important. I don't think we need any examples to support the question, it stands on its own.

It's worth noting that the "Why don't feminists try and push for gender parity in coal mining?" is a very tired question (and rather silly meme) and it's got without a variety of answers from casual feminists. A cursory Google search for this question on Reddit has thrown up a variety of answers:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskFeminists/comments/3bjr41/why_ha...

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskFeminists/comments/2rpbil/why_ar...

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskFeminists/comments/3inzi0/lookin...

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskFeminists/comments/97f59k/are_fe...

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskFeminists/comments/63lydf/why_do...

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskFeminists/comments/5z79oe/are_fe...


Most of those answers boil down to 'because they are more desirable', is there any specific one you think nails the answer?

Not any specific one, but I'll try and summarize the points:

* Feminists really do fight for representation in these jobs[0][1][3] to the point where one of the largest sexual discrimination lawsuits was brought up by women trying to get into the coal mining industry.

* Women already have significant representation in such jobs and especially in other low wage jobs, such as textile manufacturing (in sweatshops, for instance[2]), nursing, fast food work, oil drilling, childbirthing (and other thankless reproductive labour), janitors/sanitation etc.

* These jobs are generally seen as undesirable anyway, and there isn't a social push for men to enter them. It's expected that with less push for dirty (and trade) jobs in general, there would be less of a liberal feminist push for them too. This is consistent with the fact that second wave feminists argued for any involvement of women in the workplace, even blue collar jobs, but now such activity is less prominent.

* It's a class issue too, and the perceptions, biases and elitist attitudes which prevent entry to such jobs for both men and women have been challened by intersectional and Marxist feminists.[4]

* Part of feminism is challenging essentialist and elitist narratives about women and their capabilities, which managers in such industries cite in arguments against hiring women

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/25/your-money/sweet-smell-of...

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/AskFeminists/comments/3am8ri/if_the...

[2] http://www.feminist.org/other/sweatshops/sweatfaq.html

[3] http://the-exercist.tumblr.com/post/105284613217/is-that-so-...

[4] Sean Sayers, "Marxism and Human Nature" discusses this elitism at length as both a gender issue and a class issue


Your two comments don't really answer the question I posed. The first one denigrates it and attempts to outsource the task of answering it to Reddit. The second one is, I guess, mostly a recitation of various things feminists have done or not done in relation to this question, among other issues. But nowhere do you make a clear statement about whether you would advocate for pushing women into these jobs, and why or why not.

I didn't know the question applied to me personally. I'm not entirely sure myself, which is why I gave various reasons (some conflicting) for what other feminists think. I'm not even sure I'd advocate 'pushing' women anywhere, I think that we should try and counter bias that may set in from society or parents from a young age, and also make clear that various opportunities are available to all, including opportunities in jobs which are unfashionable nowadays.

That's a fair response, thanks.

I used the word 'push' because I was responding to a comment which identified 50/50 representation in all occupations as potentially a reasonable goal. It would surely take a big push to achieve gender parity in garbage collection, which is 99% male in the US!


> Because if it is purely cultural then aiming for 50/50 gender parity across all industries is a reasonable goal.

If that's the case, then I see how it could be an attainable goal, but what is the basis of asserting that differing are something undesirable?


It honestly changes the way we work with something.

Biological differences aren't things we can easily change right now. Skin color or the shape of one's fingernails or the length of one's legs. Some biological things have real world things that go with it. Skin color, for example, could put you at greater risk of skin cancer or a greater risk of low vitamin D. One simply accepts and lives with these things and works with them.

If they are cultural or from nurture, it means that as a society, we can change things. It isn't that your tastes are an issue (mostly), but that society notices that, perhaps, men don't spend as much time with children or that women are doing things differently. In these cases, we can do things like start treating boys and girls more similarly. We can teach them similar things in school. In short, we can change how we nurture and change society (albeit slowly in some cases).


But, in some other cases where something is most likely a biological difference, but changing the culture could meaningfully change the outcome for a sub-population, we do tend to choose to resolve the biology part. For example, we medicate for ADHD and back pain, when we could presumably build a society where people don't have to work as information traders while sitting at a desk all day if they want good money.

Regardless of whether the differences are biological or not, the real question is are the outcomes they lead to meaningfully bad or debilitating; are women more vulnerable as a result of them (I think they are but I suppose it's debatable). And if they are, should we change the value society assigns these choices so that people who make them have better outcomes, or should we change the people who make the choices (either through force or education or medication). If we are choosing to change the people (I guess we are), then if we find out or even guess that the root cause may be biological, our responsibility is not to shrug and go "well, guess 50% of the population can keep being depressed and poor, it's their choice", it's to find a biological solution people could choose to take to make themselves more suited to society's reward system. Isn't it?

(Obviously the women who already do like programming don't need anything special except for their work environment to stop being more terrible than men's through e.g. harassment by their VPs.)


I understand, of course, that it makes the difference when you want to change things. But my main question is, why do you want to change things, even in case where everybody is free to choose?

I am not really sure I buy into "treating boys and girls the same" either. I think what's more important is to give them options (perhaps against their will, to get them outside the comfort zone).

It seems to me that schools already largely do treat everybody the same, even to the point where it is being truly annoying to open-minded individuals. I am not sure it's ideal to treat all kids the same, but rather recognize their individual differences.

For example, my parents sent me to summer camps to learn some outdoor skills. I wasn't very good at it and I didn't enjoyed it as much as I probably should as a stereotypical male. But on the other hand, I think it was right thing to do.

So, if despite these attempts to make me into an expert in wilderness survival, I didn't become one, and rather became computer geek, which was certainly out of fashion at the time, I have serious doubts about the theories that cultural ideas are so influential to the actual behavior of children.


> I think what's more important is to give them options (perhaps against their will, to get them outside the comfort zone)

How do you justify the against their will part with your earlier sentiment that you don't understand why people care if its biology or cultural.

If its biological, forcing them outside of their biological comfort zone seems particularly cruel.


First of all, we shouldn't treat adults and children the same. Children (and teens) should be sometimes pushed out of their comfort zone, at least for short periods of time. Because sometimes they find it is actually something they will enjoy.

In adults, it's different. They should be offered the option and decide for themselves. It is still good thing to do from time to time.

In any case, you need to be sensible as a parent. You shouldn't push children out of their "biological" comfort zone. For example, if a kid is afraid of spiders it is not sensible to push him to have one as a pet. It might be sensible to go to a zoo to see one (among other interesting animals), though.


> If its biological, forcing them outside of their biological comfort zone seems particularly cruel.

Gender-based biological differences are subtle enough to not really matter in a summer camp scenario.


Being outside your comfort zone is good, even if only for a time. (I'd rather not live outside my comfort zone, but my best experiences have come from being outside it).

Because in one case, things "must" be this way and there is no reason for introspection--given exactly equal opportunities, both groups would choose the same thing they are already choosing. In the other, that's not the case at all, and it may be necessary to (for example) pass legal reforms in an effort to make sure that both groups actually are free to choose.

I am not really sure what you're trying to say. Can you give an example, perhaps? In particular, can you give an illustrative example which explains the difference between "free to choose" and "actually free to choose"?

Do you think there is something innate that changed genetically about women that led to them being much less likely to be computer programmers now than they were in the 1970s, but much more likely to be biologists? If not, there is probably some other factor at work leading to these changing "preferences," even though as far as I know women have had no legal barriers to working in either field throughout that period.

Or, to bring up a very timely example: currently there are no legal barriers to coming out as transgender (in the U.S., anyway). I still think it's reasonable to say that people are not "free to choose" to transition, because in many cases they will be ostracized or (legally) discriminated against for it. This is similar to the status of homosexuality (though it is a less direct analogy since there were many more laws explicitly prohibiting homosexuality).


> Do you think there is something innate that changed genetically about women that led to them being much less likely to be computer programmers now than they were in the 1970s [...]

Wait – I thought back then (1950s/60s/maybe 70s), "programming" refered to something more akin to data input, i.e., someone designed a program, and the "programmer" entered that program into the computer's memory, using punch cards or whatever [1]. Later, this activity and the designing of a program was merged and done by a single person, as it is known today.

If this is true, then the mystery is not why women's preferences changed since the 1970s, but why their preferences seem to be different from men's, back then and today.

[1] You can still find this terminology in the hardware world. For example, storing the bitstream into an FPGA's SRAM or flash cells is called "programming the FPGA", and the little box which is sometimes necessary to do this, is called a "programmer" – which is kind of funny if you think about it.


> Wait – I thought back then (1950s/60s/maybe 70s), "programming" refered to something more akin to data input, i.e., someone designed a program, and the "programmer" entered that program into the computer's memory, using punch cards or whatever

That's exactly right, "programming" was considered secretarial work, and guess what, pretty much all secretaries were women.

Male engagement in programming exploded with the advent of personal computers in the 80s, and female engagement chugged along at the same growth rate as before.


Not my experience. I was in college when PCs exploded, and programming was already a mostly-male field

I never claimed STEM had gender parity in terms of numbers, but if you look at the gender ratios you can pretty clearly see that female CS degrees peaked in 1984 and then fell quite rapidly:

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_349.asp

The "programming as secretarial work" happened in the 50s and 60s which predates this data, so I haven't found a canonical source for that.


I didn't really live through that era, but my suspicion is that more well-paid roles (especially in management and health care) opened for women during that era, and so they decided to work in different fields more in accordance with their own preferences. Hence the decline from women in computing. Basically, I believe it is in line with the gender-equality paradox.

It can also be the case that the whole thing is a dynamical system (for example driven by desire to work in a field which already has majority in the same gender), and it somewhat chaotically "oscillates" around the equilibrium. So there really is not an causal explanation as such.


Only really in mainframe shops - though I did in my first job enter a lot of code for a female engineer.

I think the programmer example is a much better example than the transgender example. If you are ostacized and disciminated for your choice, you are not "free to choose". It's "free to choose" in the same sense that everyone is "free to choose" to commit crime, with the risk of being put into prison for your choice.

The "woman in programming" example is much better. Woman in programming started declining basically the moment computer games entered the market, since computer games are marketed primarily to males (outside of mobile, but that influence is fairly new). If we just simplify the whole problem to this one influence, woman are not programmers because of the marketing of "children toys". Is that bad, something we have to change? Nobody is really prevented from choosing to do certain freetime activities, to get exerience and motivation. They are just notpushed towards it. Still it leads to an unequal outcome.


Firstly, I think you are implicitly assuming that there's nothing dissuading women from being programmers--that if they join the industry, things go perfectly smoothly for them. That's far from the case, in my experience.

Secondly, nowadays, men and women both play games at roughly the same rate (with women playing a little more by some metrics), but that doesn't seem to have improved the chances of women entering the programming industry. What is the explanation for that (besides that it's "new", which isn't really the case anymore)? Like many people, I got into programming as a result of video games--but I find it hard to believe that that alone is responsible for the entirety of the observed difference in behavior.

Finally, what is your explanation for the huge increase in the proportion of women in biology?


I don't think that computer games explain the entire phenomenon, they are just one major factor that I chose to focus on.

It is true that the gender imbalance in gaming has mostly smoothed out, but until that happened the software industry already turned mostly male. And even if nobody intends to erect barriers, in a group that's heavily skewed towards one demographic everything starts to cater towards that demographic, pushing everyone else away. So unsettling the balance once for long enough may be enough to explain where we are today.

>Finally, what is your explanation for the huge increase in the proportion of women in biology?

I honestly have no idea.


Playing games is different from programming, and marketing games to boys is different from marketing computer science to girls.

I don't know why less girls choose computer science than do boys, but I don't think it can be so heavily linked to gaming. The gaming community is actually sometimes far harsher on girls than the comp sci community, yet girls continue to choose gaming. In the gaming community, a girl is either a "thot" or she beats out every male who plays against her. If you're neither of these things the community still believes you're one of them and will react to you/attack you accordingly, usually defaulting to calling you a "thot".

In comp sci, the barrier is more about socializing. It may be a stereotype but I have noticed that many males in comp sci are the less socially-gifted ones. It is often not possible for a female to join such a group of males because they are scared of her. Other than that, the comp sci world in academia is far less disgusting than the gaming world and far less hostile. It's about avoidance instead of outright attack.

It could just be that girls enjoy programming less than boys do. I'm not saying that's definitely the case, I'm saying it seems more likely than not.


I have an anecdote which I found quite interesting:

Last week I got to meet my cousin’s daughter for the first time. It was a family dinner and after everyone had eaten she pulled out her barbie dolls to play with. Since I‘ve been on HN for a few years now and this is not the first time I came across this topic I asked my cousin: Why does your daughter play with barbies? Did she choose the barbie doll or where they given to her?

My cousin, confused at first (because remember people: Most people don‘t really care that much about this stuff), answered: I think she chose herself, or maybe grandma gave one to her first.

So this could be it: The little girl might be free to choose as far as her mom is concerned, but is she _actually_ free to choose because she got influenced by her grandma first? Who‘s to say?


Every year on my birthday or on Christmas, my aunt would gift me one of those stupid DIY sets for girls. Basically boxes of cheap play makeup, or glitter and some other crap for making bracelets or barrettes, or tie-dye for dyeing your clothing.

I hated them. They were obnoxious, lacked creativity, and smelled weird. I was a very willful child and loud about it, so I obviously refused to use these gifts in any capacity, but I think my refusal to play with toys I didn't like holds true for most children. If your cousin's girl didn't like the Barbie, she probably wouldn't play with it.

The whole point of childhood is having an idea of "I" without having a strong idea of identity so that we have a solid reference point for learning about the world without experiencing the blind spots that ego identities often impose. Consequently, we demand what we want and refuse what we don't want without thought. We rarely make compromises and our needs and wants cannot really be reasoned away by others (because our needs and wants in childhood are more instinctual/subconscious/impulsive than they are logical and experience-based).

I think we are most free to choose in childhood. By adulthood we have developed functioning identities and feel obligated to stay consistent with our idea of self. Many people take portions of their identification from a society's expectation of them, which is when freedom of choice becomes heavily blurred.


I think you're underestimating ability of children to make their preferences known. If she really had a different preference, she would either complain that she wants something else, not play with the doll and play with something else instead, or make most of the circumstance and play with it in a different way.

I think what is important here is to give children different options. I personally got a lot of toys from my family that I didn't use that much as a kid, most notably sports equipment. Meccano and (later, as it was expensive) Lego on the other hand.. Not to mention computers, that was love on the first sight.


There are obviously gender difference between what girls and boys like to play with in general even from a VERY early age. Its extensively documented.

Of course radical feminists reject all this evidence en masse and pretend its all a social construct, which is absolute nonsense.

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/slms/slms-news/slms/girls-toys-ve...


>, but is she _actually_ free to choose because she got influenced by her grandma first? Who‘s to say?

To add to your rhetorical question of the inability to trace the source of gender preferences, some research on non-human primates was done.[1]

In 2002, a study of vervet monkeys in the UK found male/female preferences for boy/girl toys.[2]

That behavior was independently replicated in 2008 with rhesus monkeys in the USA displaying the same gender preferences.[3]

There were also other studies of human infants[4] displaying gender preferences, and studies showing similar preferences across different cultures and countries.[5]

Those results will probably not change minds on either side because -- the belief that it's mostly nature or belief that it's mostly nurture -- is too ingrained for any evidence to modify.

If one leans towards innate differences, the studies confirm the beliefs.

If one leans toward cultural influences, then the studies are rejected with "monkeys are not humans!" or "who's to say the lab monkeys didn't learn boy/girl toy preferences from the researchers?"

The meta question then becomes: is it even possible to construct a nature/nurture science experiment that can actually convince one side or the other?

(The answer seems to be "no" based on several hundred years of debate on "nature vs nurture" with no final resolution.)

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-scientific-funda...

[2] 2002 paper: https://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(02)00107-1/abst...

[3] 2008 paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/

[4] https://digest.bps.org.uk/2016/06/03/infants-show-a-preferen...

[5] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/icd.2064


I think the idea is that your culture can enslave you in an idea of who you want to be, which isn't really yours, but rather your culture's. The idea seems to be that this identity has been forced on you, and isn't really yours.

This brings up all kinds of nature-vs-nurture questions. It also has a nice recursive issue: Those who hold this view (that you should be free to choose your identity, without your culture imprinting one on you): Did their culture imprint that view on them? (Before you say "no", remember that "their culture" may be the university rather than the town they grew up in.)


"I think the idea is that your culture can enslave you in an idea of who you want to be, which isn't really yours, but rather your culture's. The idea seems to be that this identity has been forced on you, and isn't really yours."

Yeah, I agree, but I disagree with this notion. I mean, if you, even after hearing this argument, still think you made a free choice, then it seems to me that any attempt to subvert that is making you less free. Who should know better whether some decision is yours than you? It seems to me that this idea really rejects agency in other people, and that's why I find it disingenuous.

As a side note. The current idea of having 50/50 split in ratio of preferences between men and women as correct culturally bears some similarity to old idea that all left-handed people should be taught to be right-handed. Eventually, it was abandoned in favor of personal choice and the question whether it is cultural or biological is no longer relevant.


I agree with you. The "If you really were free, then you would decide the way we think you should" people need to think a bit more about what freedom actually means...

I think the idea is that your culture can enslave you in an idea of who you want to be, which isn't really yours, but rather your culture's. The idea seems to be that this identity has been forced on you, and isn't really yours.

But isn't this basically what much of life itself is about? To really figure out who you are? Because you are not born into a vacuum but into a number of overlapping human subcultures. And one of the main tasks in life is to figure out who the hell you really are and what you really want, and also how you change over the years. Only then you can find your vision of where you want to continue your life journey onwards.


yeah, for example 100+ years ago (or today in conservative environment) there were/are probably a lot of gay people who genuinely believe they are not and suffer their whole live, not even cause they are afraid to "come out" but cause they don't even accept themselves.

If you suffer, and think that under different circumstances you could make different choices, with which you would be more comfortable, then you don't really have the free choice.

But that's not what I am talking about. I am talking about society where people do have the free choice, and they are happy with it (or at least in correct proportions). Then these are their genuine preferences, and it shouldn't matter whether they come from the culture or biology.


I understand you and agree to a point. But people are not such simple machines. Having a society with toxic (to our perspective) mores can have really subtle and strange (but still negative) effects.

A gay man in Saudi Arabia who is deeply religious and conform to fundamentalist Islam cultural mores can genuinely believe he is not gay and that god is testing him, or that he is not attracted to his wife, or just not that sexual, while being unhappy and not thinking "if only I could I would have lived as a gay man!".

Culture goes really deep.


For you, they now are your tastes, but if those tastes were acquired by nurture, they don't have to be your children's tastes.

Given some tastes lead to less power and riches in our current societal environment. If they are nurtured, it is logical for parents to want to nurture them to more lucrative alternatives.

If they are innate though, it's a waste of time to try and change them. So I feel it is definitly somewhat relevant to know.


That's a fair argument. As long as it's you who is interested in your preferences, and not preferences of others, then it's a valid question.

My personal suggestion is to assume that biology plays no role and attempt to change yourself to whatever you feel you want to be. I don't think there is any downside really, because it's ultimately the journey not the goal that counts.


We have control over cultural things and if theses things bring a life that we can define as inferior, then I believe we should change that culture.

The culture make women an object of desire, which increase sexual misconduct toward them. We can change that culture, shouldn't we?

Look at women in the middle east, that's purely cultural. Is it alright?

Culture bring racism, is it alright?

>what does it matter what is the reason for these preferences?

The same way we can fix a bug in a software, we can fix our culture to remove theses faults. Equal opportunities means that there's no fault. We are equals, thus there's no reason for culture to make us different. It's alright for a men to want to raise his family, he shouldn't have to bear the weight of the culture that tell him that it's his wife job to do it.


It matters when you want to evaluate whether a group has gotten a bad deal in society.

For example, if girls tend to prefer playing with dolls instead of toy cars, is it nature or nurture? If nature, then maybe there's a biological basis for why less women go into stem. If nurture, then maybe it's society's norms and expectations that explains why women more often go into people-oriented jobs like teaching and nursing.

When you look at it this way, you can see why the difference has political implications.


"It matters when you want to evaluate whether a group has gotten a bad deal in society."

I am not sure why would I want to do that.

As a leftist (being pro-equality), I don't really want there to be anybody who got a bad deal in society. But why should it matter which group are they part of? It seems chauvinistic to me.


If you don't want there to be anybody who got a bad deal in society, first you need to understand whether or not where they are now is where they want to be or somewhere they ended because other options were closed to them.

If you don't know if they got a bad deal, you don't even know if there's anything to fix, much less how.

But you can't just ask people that, because people make a whole lot of choices based on what is seen as achievable for them not just by themselves but by society around them irrespective of their personal traits.


I believe people are grown up enough to tell me if they think something is wrong. So I don't see why simply asking is not enough. (I understand that some people don't want to complain directly in oppressive regime, so assuming that's not the case.)

And in my opinion, society doesn't ask people enough what they want. I am a big fan of direct democracy, which is pretty much that - asking people what their preferences (about how the society should operate) are.


> believe people are grown up enough to tell me if they think something is wrong

Unfortunately this belief is not very scientific. The very manner in which you frame the question, even if it is asking the same thing, can get a differing response from the same person.

Also, people are terrible at self assessment. Unsupervised vs supervised dieters are one of the best examples. Even worse are what people think they want. Most people have a very small pool they can think of at any given time on what they want. Most of the time it is being manipulated by outside benefactors, such as advertisers.


They are grown up enough to tell you, but that does not mean that they're quantifiable as doing as well as others.

> "It matters when you want to evaluate whether a group has gotten a bad deal in society."

> I am not sure why would I want to do that.

> As a leftist (being pro-equality), I don't really want there to be anybody who got a bad deal in society.

I think the issue is that there are very large numbers of people who have gotten a bad deal in society. Investigating every individual, individually, is probably time and cost prohibitive. So investigating by common features across groups of individuals helps to try to maximise that return.

While I think we'd all like to live in that utopia where nobody gets a bad deal in society, it's not the world we inhabit today, not even close.


I disagree. We should look at people who got the bad deal directly (for example, are poor), not put them into some group. The latter is indirect and just more misleading. It is buying into a chauvinist narrative and strengthening it.

"I think we'd all like to live in that utopia where nobody gets a bad deal in society"

This is objectively not true. Many people don't care about other people getting bad deal.


I'm on the right and the sad news that you must digest is there isn't enough resources for all 7 billion people. That is a fact that will only get worse as we continue to add more. Most will suffer and there really isn't anything a leftist government can do about that other than bring everyone down to the same level of suffering.

> I'm on the right and the sad news that you must digest is there isn't enough resources for all 7 billion people.

Well this is simply not true.

I'm no fan of ballooning populations myself because I'm kind of a misanthrope but resource quanity is not the problem. There is more than enough to feed, clothe and house up to 15 billion people, just not at the same standard as the resource-guzzling United States.

The problem is logistics and political will. That's what we don't have to provide for 10+ billion people.


"there really isn't anything a leftist government can do about that other than bring everyone down to the same level of suffering"

So be it. It seems more fair to me than some ad hoc chauvinism.

In any case, I don't think the suffering is really required. What is, in your opinion, the lifestyle that is possible to be supported by resources we have for 7 billion people?


> I don't understand why people care so much whether preferences are biological or cultural.

Because the individual can't claim oppression as the cause for something like average pay differences when the individual chooses to go into a field that pays less on average.


From a personal / everyday perspective it's probably not that interesting. But uncovering the inherent nature of something, regardless of what it is, is always going to be interesting to large numbers of people.

Yeah this is the part I don't see the clear logic in. I mean how much of a persons preferences are biological vs taught/environmental behaviour. I would accept the results straight up if it's all because of biological reasons but to me it's not that clear. Imagine if we brought up women to be amazon warriors, of course they would have different preferences compared to women today no? You often pick a career after what you are good at already.

It seems pretty obvious to me that gender differences are due to a mix of cultural pressures and biology. Here's a study that indicates some biological origin, for example: https://www.psypost.org/2017/12/study-finds-robust-sex-diffe...

It weirds me out to find people who believe that these preferences are solely due to cultural pressure. It reeks of ideological blindness to me.


People who believe this is solely cultural pressure should try having children.

While, sure, you can raise children to be much more willing to challenge gender norms, and you can raise them to not hide or be ashamed of where their personal preferences violate cultural gender norms, every parent I've known that have strongly believed it was all cultural have ended up changing their mind after they've tried their hardest to give their kids gender neutral toys and clothes, or a mix of "boys" and "girls" stuff, and found their kids even at toddler stage gravitate to "typical" boys/girls stuff.

I think it's great they give their kids the choice and don't judge if they pick stuff that doesn't "conform", and I personally find it very annoying how e.g. clothes stores often draw hard lines between boys and girls stuff even when there's not even a half-plausible reason (no, a minecraft t-shirt for a prepubescent child is not gender specific in any way), but at the same time I also personally saw my son express a very strong preference for or against certain things related to gender identity from he was very little, and if we'd tried to push him to ignore that preference we'd be just as bad as parents who push for conformity.


I have no doubt that this is exactly what happens, but I don't think it shows what you intend it to show. Kids pick up the culture around them, and if they are exposed to television or other children, they are going to pick up what they see.

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but I don't think it proves anything innate in gender either.

Another part of the problem is our language, and the way we think about it. We have a tendency to say "girls prefer this, and boys prefer that" as a short hand for "on average, girls prefer this and boys prefer that". Those two statements are not the same thing at all. Averages don't say anything about how any individual person thinks. This shortcut of language seems to be a big blind spot in people.


> Kids pick up the culture around them, and if they are exposed to television or other children, they are going to pick up what they see.

Even just hours after being born?

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016363830...


They've shown some strong gender preferences even for babies, though. I find it hard to believe the "well maybe those babies have already had the patriarchy shoved down their throats" crowd.

You'll see these kind of preferences long before kids have been exposed to much more than their parents, and even if their parents try to hard to avoid it.

Right, and you can even see how some standards are more arbitrary than others. For example, our son loved pink until around when he was 3 or 4, he started hearing from the daycare he went to that pink was for girls.

Although those factors in themselves are not accounted for, the cultural differences in cross-country effects are extensively documented. The supplement material is available for free at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/suppl/2018/10/17/362.6...

If someone legitimately has a preference then what does it matter whether their preferences are the result of "cultural norms" or personal taste?

I think one of the big western values is that people should have equality of opportunity. If cultural norms direct people into specific, unequal paths in life, is that really equality of opportunity?

I don't think it should need to adjust as this is what it's trying to observe, it's specifically taking into account the levels of social equality. If cultural 'pushing' played a bigger part, you'd expect the differences to be greater in less egalitarian countries, but instead we see the opposite.

The study looked at differences in personalities via interviews of men and women, not at the types of choices they made.

So, for example, in more equal countries there is a higher gender difference in trust and altruism than in less equal countries.

For the countries, they categorised them on a few factors: "we created a Gender Equality Index as a joint measure of four indices of gender equality: (i) the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum (WEF), (ii) the Gender Equality Index of the United Nations (UN), (iii) the ratio of female to male labor force participation rates, and (iv) the number of years since women’s suffrage."

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