Friday, August 10, 2018

Short Posts About Women's Issues, 8/10/18.

1.  A Japanese medical school has employed a unique solution to the female dominance in higher education:

A Japanese medical school deliberately cut women’s entrance test scores for at least a decade, an investigation panel said on Tuesday, calling it a “very serious” instance of discrimination, but school officials denied having known of the manipulations.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a priority of creating a society “where women can shine”, but women in Japan still face an uphill battle in employment and face hurdles returning to work after childbirth, a factor behind a falling birthrate.
The alterations were uncovered in an internal investigation of a graft accusation this spring regarding the entrance exam for Tokyo Medical University, sparking protests and anger.
Lawyers investigating bribery accusations in the admission of the son of a senior education ministry official said they concluded that his score, and those of several other men, were boosted “unfairly” - by as much as 49 points, in one case.

They also concluded that scores were manipulated to give men more points than women and thus hold down the number of women admitted, since school officials felt they were more likely to quit the profession after having children, or for other reasons.

Note that last sentence.  I have just been reading all those right-wing MRAs and Jordan Peterson types who argue that women really prefer to stay at home with the children.

And if they don't, well, Japan has a second solution  (other than altering test scores) to that one, too:  Make working after having children very difficult for women, due to discrimination against mothers.  

2.  A Sunday New York Times opinion column from late July is about the policing of female parents' child-guarding skills.

Most of the examples in the article are about mothers who left their children unsupervised in a car for a certain amount of time, ranging from a few minutes to hours.  Some were in visual contact with the child or children the whole time, but nevertheless someone called the cops on them for child endangerment.

I completely get that leaving small children alone in a car can be dangerous, and that leaving any children in a car on a very hot day can be calamitous.

At the same time, taking an eleven-year-old, say,  to a 7/11 with you might actually be more dangerous than leaving that child in a cool, locked car.  That's because the store could be held up while the parent and the child are in there, someone could drive into them when they walk back to their car and so on.

The point I'm trying to make is that the actual danger of leaving a relatively old child alone in a cool locked parked car for a few minutes is extremely small.  It could even be the safest alternative under certain situations.

What's most interesting about the article for me is the study it discusses:

Barbara W. Sarnecka, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues presented subjects with vignettes in which a parent left a child unattended, and participants estimated how much danger the child was in. Sometimes the subjects were told the child was left unintentionally (for example, the parent was hit by a car). In other instances, they were told the child was left unsupervised so the parent could work, volunteer, relax or meet a lover. The researchers found that the participants’ assessment of the child’s risk of harm varied depending on how morally offensive they found the parent’s reason for leaving. 
Dr. Sarnecka and her colleagues summarized the findings this way: “People don’t only think that leaving children alone is dangerous and therefore immoral. They also think it is immoral and therefore dangerous.”
At this point you might be wondering, “What about the dads?”
Dr. Sarnecka, the cognitive scientist, has an answer to this. Her study found that subjects were far less judgmental of fathers. When participants were told a father had left his child for a few minutes to run into work, they estimated the level of risk to the child as about equal to when he left because of circumstances beyond his control. 
I love the way this finding makes plain something we all know but aren’t supposed to say: A father who is distracted by his interests and obligations in the adult world is being, well, a father; a mother who does the same is failing her children.

In other words, mothers are held to higher standards than fathers.

3.  The number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies has dropped from the high of last year, 32, to 24 this year.

The linked video mentions the work-life balance and one woman in it muses that women cannot have it all.  But then nobody questions whether male CEOs can have both fascinating and well-remunerated work and several children. 

Another interviewee states that the blockage in the pipeline comes on middle management level.  That's where women become scarcer than hen's teeth.

4.  In more positive news, a record number of women are running in US politics, including several running for state governors. Mareena Robinson Snowden became the first black woman to earn a doctorate in nuclear physics at MIT.  First Lt. Marina A. Hierl is the first woman to lead an infantry platoon in the US Marine Corps.  Marjorie Liu became the first woman to win the comic industry's top prize for writers.  And Pakistan just might get its first female Supreme Court justice, if the nomination of Justice Tahira Safdar as the chief justice of the Balochistan High Court is confirmed.