Friday, February 15, 2013

Worth Reading Today

This is a hilarious example of the kind of stuff one usually read on the MRA sites.

It mixes cocktail-party evolutionary psychology (men are hard-wired to be good at tech, women not, without any evidence provided on that hard-wiring), language from the pickup guys (beta males don't get the women*) and the idea that masculinity means telling women to f**k off when they ask for fairer representation or whatever.  If you don't have the guts to dominate women you are not a real man!

And the reason these "beta males" do all this is to get laid.  But Real Women want a rough alpha male so the strategy will not work.

So it's useful to read that to see the arguments the opposition uses, sorta.  But it's also useful to note that if one is like this author and believes that women are just not hard-wired for tech, then that person would probably not treat men and women equally as individuals when applying for tech jobs.  He (or she) would add a bit of weight to the guy's application.

Of such circles are these questions about discrimination manufactured!

The piece also does the usual He-Woman thing:  The very few exceptional women need no help because they are so obviously good enough.  The rest?  Meh.  How those few exceptional women got the wrong hard-wiring is not explained, either.

To counteract that story,  have a look at this survey:

Science savvy female teens in Asia, east and south Europe and the Middle East represent their gender well. These ladies, on average, outperform their male counterparts on science tests for comprehension. In the United States, however, women still lag behind men in science achievement. Only Colombia and Liechtenstein exhibit a higher gap between the genders than the U.S., where boys performed 2.7 percent higher than girls, the New York Times shows (with an interactive plot).
Sixty-five developed countries took part in the test, which was given to 15-year-old students. In the majority of countries, girls dominated. The U.S., plus a handful of countries mostly in west north Europe and the Americas, showed the opposite trend.
Now something like this could, I guess, go with only men "hard-wired" for tech.  But that explanation would require all sorts of accusations that the natural superiority of men is suppressed by feminazi activity.  Including in the Middle East, the feminist paradise.

Finally a study (which I have not read) suggests that it matters whether parents praise children for what they do or for what they are.  The latter leads to less self-confidence when facing challenges later.  Girls are more often praised for what they are, rather than for what they do:

Researchers in this study videotaped more than fifty 1- to 3-year-olds and their parents during everyday interactions at home (the families represented a variety of races, ethnicities, and income levels). Each family was taped three times, when children were 1, 2, and 3. From the tapes, researchers identified instances in which parents praised their children and classified that praise as process praise (emphasizing effort, strategies, or actions, such as "You're doing a good job"), person praise (implying that children have fixed, positive qualities, such as "You're so smart"), or all other types of praise.
The researchers followed up with the children five years later when they were 7- to 8-year-olds, and gauged whether the children preferred challenging versus easy tasks, could figure out how to overcome setbacks, and believed that intelligence and personality traits can be developed (as opposed to being fixed).
When parents used more process praise while interacting with their children at home, children reported more positive approaches to challenges five years later, could think of more strategies to overcome setbacks, and believed that their traits could improve with effort. The other two types of praise (person praise and other praise) were not related to children's responses, the study found, nor was the total amount of praise.
Moreover, although boys and girls received the same amount of praise overall, boys got significantly more process praise than girls. And five years later, boys were more likely to have positive attitudes about academic challenges than girls and to believe that intelligence could be improved, according to the study.

Correlation is not necessarily causation, of course.

What these three stories share is the question of fixed characteristics.  The first rant argues that men are innately superior in tech, the second story offers some evidence which contradicts that and the third study offers one hypothesis how children may start believing that their abilities are fixed quantities.
*The term beta males comes from wolves.  But actual wolf packs in the wild are largely family units and the alpha male is the granddad or dad of most of the pack.