Less than 50/50 representation does not automatically imply ‘gender bias’

Although forcing 50/50 representation via quotas or similar discriminatory measures does …

There is no disputing the fact that relatively few women occupy places in the upper echelons of the corporate world. Feminist ‘wisdom’ would have us believe that this is wrong, and this it is a wrong that must be righted – for example via affirmative action measures such as quotas. Feminists tell us that this wrong is indicative of an unfair workplace environment constructed by men for men, which is holding women back from assuming their rightful places at the boardroom table.

Like many others, I have a problem with this simplistic construct. There are many factors, and more significant factors, contributing to gender imbalance in the workplace other than deliberate bias on the part on males at the apex of the hierarchy. Thus questions such as the following, readily spring to mind:

  • Is it necessarily wrong that women are not represented 50/50 on boards and amongst the ranks of CEO’s? (That is, assuming feminists would even settle for 50/50)
  • Exactly what costs and benefits would be associated with achieving 50/50 representation? and who would incur these costs and receive these benefits?
  • To what extent are the low numbers of women in senior ranks simply reflective of what real women actually want (or don’t want), rather it being a situation that has been forced upon them?
  • To the extent that women are being held back in their chosen career paths, for example because of inflexible workplaces, and to what extent do the very same factors also act as constraints on the careers of men?
  • Are women who achieve positions of high standing in the corporate hierarchy more or less likely than men to help women in the lower ranks of their organisations (i.e. champion/mentor versus Queen Bee)
  • Why are concerns *never* raised about the need for diversity in relation to organisations, boards, etc that are overwhelmingly female in composition?

Is it not wrong, and indicative of sexist bias, that all of the emphasis in this debate is about women achieving leadership positions, with no concern expressed in relation to the small numbers of men working in roles like nursing or teaching. And what about roles that are heavily male-dominated, but are dirty and/or dangerous, like collecting garbage, janitorial roles, mining, the military, etc. How come no mention of quotas being imposed there?

Clearly the feminist lobby and their allies in the media are advancing a very imbalanced position. Yet again and again I see articles advancing this position appearing unchallenged – articles like this one – and I know more people need to speak up about feminist hypocrisy and double standards.

This latest article is entitled ‘YWCA conference addresses gender bias in leadership‘. The main point being made is that because only a minority of business or political leadership roles are held by women, then there is clearly pervasive ‘gender bias’.

Before dissecting the article, let’s first look at the definition of the word ‘bias’:

“An inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair.”

I would propose that there are many reasons why there might be more men (or more women) in a particular career, or company, or industry, and that gender bias is but one of these. I would propose that in Australia, in most cases gender bias is a relatively minor factor – or does not apply at all. I would further propose that to the extent that gender bias is a significant factor then there would be (and in fact, are) situations where men, as well as women, are disadvantaged.

The article begins with “There is a silence in our society when it comes to the continued gender biases that exist in our workplaces.”

Well if you want to hear real silence then consider the issues I raised a few moments ago:

  • the lack of men working in roles like nursing or teaching, and
  • the lack of women in roles that are poorly paid, dirty and/or dangerous, like collecting garbage, janitorial roles, mining, the military, etc.

Who is speaking up about gender bias in these situations? Certainly not the feminist lobby, an ideology that is purportedly all about equality. I’m not seeing any suggestions of quotas being applied to address these imbalances. But maybe I missed that memo.

The article goes on to state:

Perhaps most alarming is the continuing gender wage gap – women still earn 17.5 per cent less than our male counterparts for the same work, and female graduates can expect to earn $5,000 less per annum than male graduates.

These statistics are real. They demonstrate an attitude and an unconscious gender bias that form a significant barrier to women participating in the workforce.”

Firstly Francis, no, these statistics are not “real”. The kindest descriptor I would offer is ‘misleading’. See my separate posts about the wage gap and about women in the workforce, both of which identify the many contributing variables (other than sex discrimination against women) that lead to the outcomes being considered here.

Secondly, neither the number of women in leadership roles, nor any wage differential that might exist, “demonstrate” bias or a “significant barrier to women participating in the workforce“. Nor do they necessarily even indicate an inequality of opportunity for women.

Take for example, political leadership, where more than 50% of voters are women. Is the author, and others of her ideological inclination, suggesting that women are biased against other women to the extent that election outcomes are heavily influenced.

And then the article asserts that “Workplaces in Australia are not responsive to the needs of women when it comes to balancing both motherhood and their careers.”

Well Francis, don’t you think that one could also say the same thing about men and fatherhood? But then, feminists do have this habit of conveniently overlooking the fact that many of the issues they rail about also negatively impact on men. That being the case, why continue to represent these issues as ammunition in an ‘us versus them’ gender war?

“In Australia, we don’t yet know what a sustained, gender-equal playing field looks like.” but then just a few lines later “The YWCA of Canberra is a supporter of quotas, as they have proven to be successful mechanisms to create a pipeline of young women into leadership roles. Until young women feel empowered to pursue leadership opportunities and have role models to look to, we will continue to be under-represented at the decision-making tables, be they in business, politics, education, or any other sector.”

Aha, so a “level playing field” looks like a place where a group of candidates with superior qualifications and experience are potentially frozen out whilst members of another group are placed in leadership roles … by virtue of having a vagina? It looks like a place where women can only feel “empowered” when assisted by way of privileged intervention (dare I say, bias?). Not infantilising much.

No-one is standing at the head of the queue handing out leadership roles to men. The reality is that anyone who strives for a position of leadership faces significant barriers. It’s not an easy path to take. And then of course there are many men and women who have no interest in taking on a leadership role, or who are simply not prepared to make the necessary compromises in other areas of their lives.

Do some of these hurdles affect proportionately more women more than men? Sure, just as some factors affect proportionately more men than women. Do some women face a proportionately greater barrier in relation to their role as parents than men? Yes, of course. But then there are, for example, women who don’t have children or who have a stay-at-home partner. Just as there are men who are single parents, or married but with a wife who has her own career.

Some of these hurdles to achieving leadership roles are fair and unavoidable, others perhaps less so. Where a hurdle is grossly unfair then by all means address it in an appropriate and targeted manner, but reacting via introducing another unfair barrier (in this case, a gender-based quota) is certainly not my idea of a “level playing-field”.

I would also recommend looking at a web site created by Mike Buchanan called the  ‘Campaign for Merit in Business‘. One of the articles to be found there is http://c4mb.wordpress.com/improving-gender-diversity-on-boards-leads-to-a-decline-in-corporate-performance-the-evidence/

Elsewhere Mike states:
“The government continues to bully FTSE100 companies into achieving 25% female representation on their boards by 2015, through the threat of legislated gender quotas. We know from recent reports that the government is planning to threaten the FTSE350 with 50% gender quotas. Because when you’re paddling downstream in a canoe on the Niagara river, and you start to hear the roar of the waterfalls, you should paddle faster towards them, right?

Good luck with trying to find evidence of a causal link between GDITB (Gender diversity in the boardroom) and enhanced financial performance – the oft-cited ‘business case’. I’ve challenged the government, dozens of organisations pressing for this ‘direction of travel’, and hundreds of individual proponents across the developed world – many of them employed in lucrative jobs allied to this insane ‘direction of travel’ – to provide evidence for a causal link.

None has ever done so. The best they can do is misrepresent a number of studies and reports, all of which make it perfectly that there’s no evidence of causal links, nor can causal links even be implied from the statistics. The following are just a few of the prominent / influential proponents of GDITB who’ve failed to meet our public challenges. They include Vince Cable MP. who leads the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:

http://c4mb.wordpress.com/our-public-challenges-of-high-profile-proponents-of-improved-gender-diversity-in-boardrooms

PS: Readers who might be interested in more of a ‘big picture’ perspective on this issue might like to look at these papers dealing with affirmative action, and the concept of ‘gynocentrism‘.

Other related papers that may be of interest include:

Why Some Women Aren’t Excited About Leadership Positions (17 May 2017)

Jordan Peterson – why few women are in positions of power (3 March 2017) Video

Maybe It’s Time To Redefine What It Means For Women To ‘Have It All’ (21 December 2016)

Richard Marx slams ‘chaotic’ event on flight (21 December 2016) Maybe Korean Air should enforce 50/50 rule for their flight attendants, but of course quotas only ever seem to get applied in relation to under-representation by women.

We need to rethink recruitment for men in primary schools (17 October 2016) Australia. Hold onto your hat! Is this the first ever article in The Conversation providing a positive perspective in relation to supporting men/boys?

Social Work’s Gender Problem (15 September 2016) USA

More men need to be recruited to female-dominated industries, by Libby Lyons, WGEA (14 August 2016)

The Flawed Arguments About Female Discrimination in the Film Industry (3 August 2016)

Melbourne University advertises female-only jobs in bid to remedy gender imbalance in maths (18 May 2016) Related Reddit discussion thread here, and critical response from Janet Bloomfield below:

Positive discrimination will have exactly the opposite effect you hope for, Melbourne University. Smarten up (18 May 2016)

Do women really want equality? by Nikita Coulombe (12 May 2016) USA

Do They Stay or Do They Go? The Switching Decisions of Individuals Who Enter Gender Atypical College Majors (May 2016)

“Men who enter a female-dominated major are significantly more likely to switch majors than their male peers in other majors. By contrast, women in male-dominated fields are not more likely to switch fields compared to their female peers in other fields.”

Study Shows Gender Inequality Not Responsible for Girls Not Choosing STEM Field (26 April 2016) USA

Where are all the women? Senior APS ranks maintain male majority (11 April 2016) Not content that “The vast majority of rank-and-file public servants are women”, the author presumably wants to see the same imbalance reflected in the most senior (and well-remunerated) level of the public service.

Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: Men (March 2016) USA statistics showing decline in male employment 1950-2016

In the Name of Diversity, You Must Conform! (21 March 2016)

Novak Djokovic questions equal prize money in tennis (21 March 2016) Men also play more sets than women. Plus different climate standards apply to men, who must continue playing in higher temperatures.

Laura Perrins: Feminists have lowered the status of women (14 March 2016) UK

I’m so bored of women having to be on board (11 March 2016) Australia

The Great Diversity Scam (10 March 2016)

Nearly 300 women apply for MFB firefighter jobs (4 March 2016) Australia

The two articles that follow highlight the ‘one-way street’ nature of feminist demands and expectations in relation to diversity and representation. Mostly men = a big problem … mostly women = sound of crickets chirping

Juliet Bourke on the secret of harnessing diverse teams and More women on boards helps to narrow gender pay gap (2 March 2016)

Tasmania’s top public servant targets gender parity (17 February 2016) With 70% of the state’s public service being female, will Greg Johannes also be writing to heads of agencies with >50% female staff to ask them to recruit more male staff? Gee, I really, really doubt it.

Now that women potentially face the draft – it appears everyone is against women in combat roles (17 December 2015) USA and related reddit discussion thread

The ten deadliest jobs in America. Oh look, it’s all men (7 December 2015) Reddit discussion thread and linked article

Gender equality vital to securing our digital future (1 December 2015)

Why this year has been all about women speaking out on gender equality (27 November 2015)

FF candidate to challenge gender quota law (7 November 2015) Ireland

Men will have to lose jobs to make way for gender equality: Transfield’s Diane Smith-Gander (13 October 2015)

Gallup: Majority of Women with Kids ‘Prefer Homemaking Role’ (8 October 2015)

US women fall behind in jobs market (11 October 2015) and related reddit discussion thread here

100 Years Before Women Reach Equality in Top Jobs, Study Claims (2 October 2015) See the reader’s comments – most are heartily sick of the feminist perspective on this subject

Don’t panic: A male midwife’s guide for dads-to-be (23 September 2015)

Compared to Men, Women View Professional Advancement as Equally Attainable, but Less Desirable (12 August 2015)

Women-in-tech events are anti-male, say men’s rights activists (12 August 2015)

The problem with merit-based appointments? They’re not free from gender bias either (30 July 2015) Amongst other omissions this paper conveniently ignores the fact that men aren’t always the beneficiaries of bias, nor women always the victims.

The case for quotas in politics: the absence of women isn’t merit-based (30 July 2015) Argues the case for the introduction/expansion of gender quotas

New study into lack of women in Tech: It’s NOT the men’s fault. It’s just simple mathematics, apparently (27 July 2015) and related reddit discussion thread

14 Facts the Tanking ‘Women in Tech’ Movement Doesn’t Want You to Know (19 July 2015)

More Men Than Women Watch Women’s Soccer, While Women Prefer Male Sports (9 July 2015)

Women stop trying to get to the top after just TWO years because they are turned off by having to sacrifice it all (28 May 2015)

The Myth about Women in Science (13 April 2015)

Sexist Canadian “Feminists” Call Others Sexist (8 April 2015)

Women guaranteed at least 50% of jobs on Victorian government boards (28 March 2015) and related reddit mensrights discussion thread

Gender quotas key to curbing pay inequality: Queensland Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman (9 March 2015) Here is some related discussion in the ABC’s Facebook page

More US women not in paid employment now than ever before (6 March 2015) and related reddit mensrights discussion thread

We need women on boards for many reasons: ethics isn’t one (20 February 2015)

Gender Quotas in Hiring Drive Away Both Women and Men (16 October 2014)

Want to pretend you’re a feminist but do nothing? Talk about women on boards (13 February 2015)

Ginsburg: Will Be Enough Women on SCOTUS When They’re All Women (5 February 2015)

Where are the female tradies? (28 January 2015) A feminist perspective on the issue

Quotas on the nose: that’s the view from male Australian CEOs (7 January 2015)

The problem with “We need more women in -“ (20 December 2014)

Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit slams Government for helping women ‘leave their children at home and go out to work’ (27 November 2014)

“Lord Tebbit asked her: ‘Do you not think it is strange that when these gender gap questions come up there is always a call for more women ambassadors, or generals or air marshals or something? ‘There is never a call for more women to be plumbers or electricians or jobs like that.'”

Gail Kelly’s Margaret Thatcher-style executive team (25 November 2014) The bank with the least number of women directly reporting to the chief executive is the only bank with a woman at the top

Interstellar patriarchy: Protecting women everywhere from shirts! (13 November 2014)

This discussion thread in an Australian web site called ‘The Conversation‘ concerns a suggestion that men are being preferentially treated due to their alleged greater self-confidence. Both myself and others contributed comments that questioned the feminist perspective being put forward, and our posts were later removed.  The moderators also closed the thread to further comments. As is usually the case, there was absolutely nothing offensive or threatening about the material removed. Ideological censorship pure and simple.

Feminist myths and magic medicine by Catherine Hakim

Where feminism went wrong by Janet Bloomfield

How feminist propaganda is destroying men’s lives (2 January 2015)

When the best person for the job has nothing to do with gender (20 October 2014) Australia

How to get more women into STEM fields: One college’s approach (August 2014 reddit discussion thread)

Why are there so many women in public relations? (8 August 2014)

Verizon’s ‘Inspire her Mind’ ad and the facts they didn’t tell you (21 July 2014)

British Labour Party enforces women-only candidate short-lists (4 July 2014)

The real reason there are not more female scientists (Youtube video)

Get women on the board (3 June 2014)

Percentage of bachelor’s degrees conferred on women, by major (Discussion thread on reddit)

Workplace inequality: When one side has an escape hatch (16 June 2014)

http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/22/us/sheryl-sandberg-lean-in-author-hopes-to-spur-movement.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/why-so-few-women-reach-the-executive-rank/

http://blogs.hbr.org/2009/12/women-ceo-why-so-few/

http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/03/bystanders-to-the-sandberg-mayer-mommy-wars.html

http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/28/women-in-tech-stop-blaming-me/

http://www.smh.com.au/business/some-men-fear-competing-with-women-20131025-2w5i8.html#ixzz2iuvoQgpS

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/03/hierarchical-differences/

Why women are leaving the workforce in record numbers‘ (17 April 2013)

http://www.ceda.com.au/media/310731/cedawiljune%202013final.pdf (A fairly comprehensive coverage of the topic albeit purely from the perspective of a feminist idealogue)

Women in STEM sole focus of gender imbalance debate‘ (24 April 2014)

Businessmen love to talk women in leadership, until you mention the Q word (15 April 2014) Feminist journo talking up gender quotas

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-nature-nurture-nietzsche-blog/201310/where-are-all-the-women

http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/01/26/stay-at-home-moms-you-dont-owe-the-world-an-explanation/

Standing tough: Maureen Joanne Sabia on achieving success (4 June 2014)

What can men do? (25 April 2014) An article written by a White Knight about the gender imbalance in the IT (coding) sector, that also has some interesting readers comments.

Only two of 3100 women army soldiers join infantry in military frontline (4 June 2014)

By the way, men want more flexibility in the workplace too

Report cites bias against women in drug rackets

Is ‘Opting Out’ the new American dream for working women? (12 September 2012) Related reddit mensrights discussion thread here

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26828726 (Hand wringing over the fact that >90% of editors on Wikipedia are male, with some interesting comments contributed by readers)

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2014/04/22/neil-degrasse-tyson-has-a-point-but-larry-summers-is-still-right/?WT.mc_id=SA_sharetool_Twitter

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/women-dont-want-to-have-it-all-anymore/story-fnet085v-1226848285611

Do Any Women Work at the Dirty, Difficult and Dangerous Jobs that Men Do? Any Women At All? (7 August 2012)

http://phys.org/news/2011-11-men-honest-overconfidence-male-domination.html (as cited in http://priceonomics.com/the-babysitting-gender-gap/)

http://theagenda.tvo.org/blog/agenda-blogs/where-oh-where-are-all-female-guests

Other related posts within this blog include:

We’ve set a target of having 10% of our senior management team female by 2017

On affirmative action and the imposition of gender quotas

Companies with women at the helm perform better (so they say)

diversity

One thought on “Less than 50/50 representation does not automatically imply ‘gender bias’”

  1. Feminists want equality of outcome ie 50% of all plum jobs, social & political positions.
    The work place is a zero sum game for peter to have a job paul must not, feminists better come to the table and meet its share 50% of the GDP ??

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