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The e-mail Larry Page should have written to James Damore
Here are a few psychological differences between the sexes that you didn’t mention.
* Men score higher on measures of anger, and lower on co-operation and self-discipline. If it had been the other way round, I’m betting you would have cited these differences as indicating lack of suitability for the job of coder.
* You lean on measures of interest and personality, rather than ability and achievement, presumably because the latter don’t support your hypothesis. In many countries girls now do better in pretty much every subject at school than boys—again, if it had been the other way around I’m sure you wouldn’t have neglected to mention that fact.
* The sole published comparison of competency in coding I am aware of found that women were more likely than men to have their GitHub contributions accepted—but if they were project outsiders, this was true only if their gender was concealed.



There is plenty of evidence that women in Silicon Valley suffer sexism and discrimination… Look at the responses to “Elephant in the Valley”, a recent survey of senior women in tech: among its findings was that two-thirds had been excluded from networking opportunities because of their sex.
And beyond our industry, women are less likely than men to be given plum assignments, are given less useful feedback, are seen as pushy when they ask for pay rises (men are seen as ambitious) and, in leadership roles, may be seen as either competent or likeable, but rarely both. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” you write. But we know there is sexism! We don’t need to infer it from the existence of gender gaps.




Before the 1980s, when personal computers became more common and were almost exclusively marketed to men and boys, a much bigger share of those studying computer science at university in America were girls than is the case now. The share of computer scientists who are women varies wildly from country to country.



Software engineering requires a broad mix of skills involving both “people” and “things”. Teamwork, in particular, is important—the stereotypical image of the geek working alone in his basement is far from reality. Senior engineers must manage teams—and by your own reasoning that should mean that women, with their greater empathy and interest in people, should be over-represented at that level, compared with their numbers in more junior jobs. That they are not should have given you pause.



Finally, let’s look at your contention that by trying to recruit more women Google is discriminating against men. You seem to think that if we stopped paying any attention to applicants’ gender when deciding who to hire, we would naturally converge on the “right” share of men and women, that is, the share that matches the distribution of talent in the recruitment pool. I don’t believe that. Unless we make special efforts, some women will be put off applying by the heavily male culture; those doing the hiring will be influenced in their assessments of candidates’ ability by the stereotypes they’ve formed in that male environment. We should “treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group,” you write. That is what we are doing. We’re trying to hire the best, aware that there are forces militating against us.
women-in-tech  feminism 
11 hours ago by dsongman
Why Men Keep Demanding Sex From Their Partners Over and Over
This is why this generation of full-time stay at home dads, and more fully engaged working dads are proving to be such a transformative force in American culture. As dads, we are presented with the absolute necessity to hold our own wonderful children. We are learning about loving platonic touch in the most powerful and life affirming way; in ways that previous generations of men simply were not immersed in. Once you have held your sleeping child night after night or walked for years with their hand in yours, you are a changed person. You gain a fluency and confidence in touch that you will never loose. It is a gift to us men from our children that literally has the capacity to transform American culture.
feminism  equality  gender 
11 hours ago by rtlechow
269 People Joined An Age Discrimination Class Action Suit Against Google - Slashdot
Slashdot reader #9,119 BrookHarty writes:

"269 people have joined a class-action lawsuit against Google claiming they were discriminated against in the workplace based on their age..." reports BizJournals. "The lawsuit originated in 2015 with plaintiff Robert Heath and was certified as a class-acti...
google  feminism  jobs 
13 hours ago by pankkake
The Actual Science of James Damore’s Google Memo
(The changed the headline 3 times for this, from „James Damore's Google Memo gets science all wrong“ to „The pernicious science of James Damores Google Memo“ to „The Actual Science of James Damore’s Google Memo“.)

IN EARLY AUGUST, a Google engineer named James Damore posted a document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” to an internal online discussion group. His memo was a calm attempt to point out all the ways Google has gone wrong in making gender representation among its employees a corporate priority. And then, on August 5, the memo jumped the fence. Nobody else was calm about it.

It wasn’t a screed or a rant, but, judging by his document, Damore clearly feels that some basic truths are getting ignored—silenced, even—by Google’s bosses. So in response, the engineer adopted a methodology at the core of Google’s culture: He went to look at the data. “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” wants to be a discussion of ideas about diversity through solid, ineluctable science.

The core arguments run to this tune: Men and women have psychological differences that are a result of their underlying biology. Those differences make them differently suited to and interested in the work that is core to Google. Yet Google as a company is trying to create a technical, engineering, and leadership workforce with greater numbers of women than these differences can sustain, and it’s hurting the company.

Damore further says that anyone who tries to talk about that paradox gets silenced—which runs counter to Google’s stated goal of valuing and being friendly to difference. And, maybe helping make his point a little, last Monday Google fired him. Damore is now on a media tour, saying he was fired illegally for speaking truth to power. Hashtag Fired4Truth!

The problem is, the science in Damore’s memo is still very much in play, and his analysis of its implications is at best politically naive and at worst dangerous. The memo is a species of discourse peculiar to politically polarized times: cherry-picking scientific evidence to support a preexisting point of view. It’s an exercise not in rational argument but in rhetorical point scoring. And a careful walk through the science proves it.

The Incoherency Problem

Psychology as a field has been trying to figure out the differences between men and women, if any, for more than a century—paging Dr. Freud, as the saying goes. The results of these efforts are ambiguous. And psychologists are still working on it.

The science of difference is a mushball, and trying to understand differences among populations only makes it messier. Every cognitive or personality trait will have a wide distribution among a given population—sex, ethnicity, nationality, age, whatever—and those distributions may only vary slightly. Which means huge chunks of the population may overlap. For any given trait, men may be more different from each other than from women, let’s say.

That said, Damore’s assertion that men and women think different is actually pretty uncontroversial, and he cites a paper to back it up, from a team led by David Schmitt, a psychologist at Bradley University in Illinois and director of the International Sexuality Description Project. The 2008 article, “Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Difference in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures,” does indeed seem to show that women rate higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

As always, the issue is the extent of the difference (and what causes it—more on that in a bit). Also, as Damore himself notes: Google hires individuals, not populations.

Damore argues that greater extraversion and agreeableness, on the whole, would make it harder for women to negotiate and stake out leadership positions in an organization, and that higher neuroticism would naturally lead to fewer women in high-stress jobs. The first-order criticism here is easy: Damore oversells the difference cited in the paper. As Schmitt tells WIRED via email, “These sex differences in neuroticism are not very large, with biological sex perhaps accounting for only 10 percent of the variance.” The other 90 percent, in other words, are the result of individual variation, environment, and upbringing.

It is unclear to me that this sex difference would play a role in success within the Google workplace.

A larger problem, though, is measuring the differences in the first place. Personality traits are nebulous, qualitative things, and psychologists still have a lot of different—often conflicting or contradictory—ways to measure them. In fact, the social sciences are rife with these kinds of disagreements, what sociologist Duncan Watts has called an “incoherency problem.” Very smart people studying the same things collect related, overlapping data and then say that data proves wildly different hypotheses, or fits into divergent theoretical frameworks. The incoherency problem makes it hard to know what social science is valid in a given situation.

The impulse to apply those theories to explain human behavior is as strong as it is misguided. Women as a group score higher on neuroticism in Schmitt’s meta-analysis, sure, but he doesn’t buy that you can predict the population-level effects of that difference. “It is unclear to me that this sex difference would play a role in success within the Google workplace (in particular, not being able to handle stresses of leadership in the workplace. That’s a huge stretch to me),” writes Schmitt. So, yes, that’s the researcher Damore cites disagreeing with Damore.

Damore does this over and over again, holding up social science that tries to quantify human variation to support his view of the world. In general, he notes, women prefer to work with people and men prefer to work with things—the implication being that Google is a more thing-oriented workplace, so it just makes sense that fewer women would want to work there. Again, the central assertion here is fairly uncontroversial. “On average—and I emphasize that, on average—men are more interested in thing-oriented occupations and fields, and that difference is actually quite large,” says Richard Lippa, a psychologist at Cal State Fullerton and another of the researchers who Damore cites.

But trying to use that data to explain gender disparities in the workplace is irrelevant at best. “I would assume that women in technical positions at Google are more thing-oriented than the average woman,” Lippa says. “But then an interesting question is, are they more thing-oriented than the average male Google employee? I don’t know the answer to that.”

Semantics aren’t helping here. Is coding a thing- or people-oriented job? What about when you do it in a corporation with 72,000 people? When you’re managing a team of engineers? When you’re trying to marshal support for your proposed expenditure of person-hours versus someone else’s? Which is more thing-oriented, deep neural networks or database optimization?

And maybe the most important question: How useful are psychological studies of the general population when you’re talking about Googlers?

Nature vs. Nurture

Damore essentially forecloses the possibility of changing sex roles and representation at Google—or anywhere, really—by asserting that not only are the differences between men and women significant but that they are at least in part intrinsic. Damore doesn’t assert that biology is the only factor in play, and no scientist does either. But how important biology is to psychology is—again—in heavy dispute.

Here’s Damore’s take: “On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways.”

Nothing to argue about here. If men and women didn’t differ biologically, it would make sexual reproduction very difficult indeed. Also, men and women differ in height (on average), bone mass (on average), and fat, muscle, and body hair distribution (on average). No one thinks those differences are socially constructed.

Damore, though, is saying that differences in cognitive or personality traits—if they exist at all—have both social and biological origins. And those biological origins, he says, are exactly what scientists would predict from an evolutionary perspective.

Evolutionary psychology and its forebear, sociobiology, are themselves problematic fields. Two decades ago evo-psych was all the rage. It’s essential argument: Males and females across species have faced different kinds of pressures on their ability to successfully reproduce—the mechanism, simplistically, through which evolution operates. Those pressures lead to different mating strategies for males and females, which in turn show up as biological and psychological differences—distinctions present in men and women today.

The problem with that set of logical inferences is that it provides a convenient excuse to paint a veneer of shaky science onto “me Tarzan, you Jane” stereotypes. It’s the scientific equivalent of a lazy stand-up comedian joking about how all men dance like this—the idea that nature hardwires our differences. In fact, evolutionary biologists today race to point out that the nature-versus-nurture dichotomy is outdated. No serious scientist finds it to be a credible model.


Internal Messages Show Some Googlers Supported Fired Engineer’s Manifesto

In 2005, Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard, suggested publicly that women might not have as much “innate ability” as men to succeed in academic disciplines that require advanced mathematical abilities. In response, psychologists got together to assess more than 100 years of work and present a consensus statement about whether Summers was right. They concluded that a wide range of sociocultural forces contribute to sex difference in STEM achievement and ability, including family, neighborhood, school influences, training experiences, cultural … [more]
Google  Googlememo  Feminism  Journalism  db 
18 hours ago by walt74
NYTimes: Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism
A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women
socialism  feminism  freedom  revolution  sex 
yesterday by gideonite

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