Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Selective Concern on Sex Imbalances

From a new report "Staying Competitive: Patching America’s Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences" from the Center for American Progress:

The “leaky pipeline” for women in the sciences, sometimes referred to as the “pool problem” because of the low number of women in job applicant pools relative to their rates of doctoral degrees granted, has become a point of considerable debate in recent years. Discussions about the reasons for the leaks range from “chilly” institutional and departmental climates to gender bias and discrimination to innate differences in cognition to lack of mentoring to the role of marriage and children.

This debate was perhaps best brought to national attention in the aftermath of comments by former President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers in 2005, when he referenced theories that women might have less intrinsic aptitude to excel at academic science careers. In fact, research universities across the country and federal granting agencies are routinely confronted with evidence of a leaky or constricting pipeline for women in the sciences.

Data from both NIH and NSF, the two agencies providing the greatest amount of funds to researchers in U.S. universities and colleges, also suggest that the leaky pipeline is not an aspect of the past. As seen in the figure above women comprise a much larger proportion of the predoctoral fellowships given by these agencies than they do postdoctoral fellowships and competitive faculty grants. The drop-off in relative proportion is dramatic, with women comprising 63% and 54% of NIH and NSF’s predoctoral awards in 2007, respectively, but just 25% and 23% of the competitive faculty grants awarded in the same year.

MP: 1. Once again, another mis-characterization of what
Larry Summers actually said:

It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability - there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means - which can be debated - there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population.

In other words, what Summers actually said is that "male intelligence is inherently more variable than female intelligence," which is significantly and distinctly different than saying that "women might have less intrinsic aptitude to excel at academic science careers." Anybody who understands basic statistics and the difference between the mean and standard deviation of a distribution will understand immediately the difference between what Summers said (the standard deviation of male intelligence is greater than the standard deviation of female intelligence) and what others claim he said (women have less intrinsic aptitude to excel in math and science).

2. Isn't it interesting that there is no concern whatsoever that women receive 170 NIH predoctoral awards for every 100 grants awarded to men, and 117 NSF awards for every 100 men, but there is suddenly a selective concern of a "dramatic drop-off" of NIH and NSF awards to faculty. If I understand the rules of gender activism correctly, they go something like this:

Rule A. If women are over-represented (college degrees, SAT scores for reading or writing between 750-800, doctoral degrees in the life sciences, English and foreign languages, etc., scholarly research awards, or tenured professors in education), that is because women are smarter, more motivated or more talented than men. No action, policies or funding required to correct the gender imbalance.

Rule B. If women are under-represented (engineering or math Ph.D.s, SAT math scores between 750-800, tenured math, computer science and physics professors at MIT, etc.) that is because of pervasive, unexamined sexism, which requires action, policies and funding to correct the sex imbalances.

3. The report concludes that "If we delay we simply continue to lose talented scholars [women] from fast-track academic careers in the sciences—to the detriment of our nation’s future."

Here's another solution: Make it easier for all of the foreign doctoral students studying math, science and engineering in the U.S. to stay here after they complete their degrees.


At 11/17/2009 11:37 PM, Anonymous Blackberry Insurance said...

Most of my female friends who would otherwise have taken the route of the upper levels of Academia have chosen not to simply because - in their words - they found it "uninviting".

At 11/18/2009 5:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of my female friends who would otherwise have taken the route of the upper levels of Academia have chosen not to simply because - in their words - they found it "uninviting".

Not surprising. Upper levels of academia are very competitive, in both the global and interpersonal sense, which most women don't like.

At 11/18/2009 1:37 PM, Anonymous Benny Telling It Like It Is said...

Men and women are different.
Women tend to clump around the middle, in terms of intelligence and personality. Men spread around.

Interestingly, fiction and screen writers know this, which is why so often men are portrayed as oafs or geniuses, or evil geniuses, or genius heroes.

The stereotypes ring true.

I mean how many women you know rob banks? Or fix cars for a living?

I never met a girl who said, "When I grow up, I want to be a plumber. Good money in that."

I will believe women are "equal" when I see a pretty blonde spend her life installing transmissions, while fixing up muscle cars on the side.

On the other hand, women probably make good lawyers. Now, that is women's work, and I look forward to the day lawyers make 75 cents on the dollar compared to other professions.

At 11/18/2009 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer there are few women in the trades but not that many. Agreed many of the trades in the repair area are not outsourcable unless you allow people into the country. (It kind of hard to fix a clogged drain from India). It seems that these areas are regarded as poor jobs, yet plumbers electricians and HVAC jobs will continue as none of them are really offshorable. The dept of labor reports that in 1999 there were 12,000 female auto mechanics. So there are some out there.

At 11/18/2009 5:59 PM, Anonymous Benny O'Crappy Car said...

You know, I had to answer a figure with an anecdote. But when the hell have you ever been in an auto barn with a female mechanic?
I wonder if those 12,000 female auto mechanics were somehow the result of a classification scheme. In other words, they worked in the auto barn, but kept records did paperwork etc, or were married to the real mechanic, and held a wrench or changed oil etc.
I am somewhat knowledgeable about repair shops in Los Angeles, having lived here for 50 years and driven crappy cars the entire time.

At 11/19/2009 12:48 AM, Anonymous batman said...

Better yet, Mark:

How about cutting off, from the public trough: The funding of those who fabricate selective concerns for "Sex Imbalances?"

"Political Science" is an oxymoron. Politics is anything but scientific; It is a philosophy, an "ology." Science is based upon mathematics. Politics is not. To wit, politicians rarely advance beyond 1st semester algebra; Evinced by their (in)ability to grasp basic economics; Eg: balancing the public checkbook. How would they even begin to understand the mechanics of probability: Means, averages, standard deviations? When the only tool found in the politician's box is a hammer, everything looks like a nail! Politics is about power, and power is in their hammer.

Nevertheless, politicians, the least qualified of all, wind up seizing positions to undertake such engineering. Through selfish motivation, they claim authority in "social engineering" projects: Such as the study of "Sex Imbalances." The "Peter principle!"

Every time they start monkeying with people's fates, they are out of control. Society in general, suffers.

When the government steals money through tax to change that which they can not: For economic reasons, those who aspire to become an engineer, scientist or teacher, are not as readily able to pursue that object. Then, society winds up short of those most qualified people for those positions.

What government program yielded up Marie Curie? Dr. Mme. Curie's drive was statistically different than the " Women's norm." Statistically, Women and men are different: Physical construction; Plumbing; Neural Wiring; Endocrine etc. The reason you don't find women dominating mechanics, science and mathematics: Is the same reason you won't find men dominating the field of nursing. No matter how much the politicians try to change what they can't, they drain from the pool the ability of those that can, to do.

At 11/19/2009 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually there is a very simple market solution, raise the salary you offer people in these jobs! Higher salaries draw people to fields, an alternative is to cut the salaries in the financial sector so that mathematically inclined don't go to that sector.
But raising the salaries is the simple thing, but businessmen only like the law of supply and demand when it applies to their pay, not their workers. (How often do you see it said that CEO talent is scare and so we need to pay a lot for it. Given how much the best and brightest screwed up recently maybe we need mediocre mangers to be given a try, could they do much worse.

At 5/05/2010 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very hard to be a professional in this society, as we are always seen as the weaker sex.


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