Friday, November 11, 2011

Explaining Probabilities To The Mathematically Impaired

OK here it goes, going to talk about something related to FEMINISM inspired by new twitter hashtag #MenCallMeThings. I don't have a twitter account (and I refuse to get one) so I'm not going to be posting my little contribution, but I figured I'd write a post about a common anti-feminist argument I hear quite often.

OK now it's very difficult for me to talk about feminism alone without bleeding into racism, homophobia etc. I have previously explained why I feel that it is all the same nonsense: having a prejudice or even downright hatred of someone simply because of how they were born, regardless of what that characteristic they were born with is. I also don't feel any more strongly about one than any other, which leads me to interconnect them quite frequently, so please forgive me for doing so.

OK so this is the feminist argument: There is sexual discrimination in the workplace. Evidence? A very small percentage of women hold managerial positions/high-ranking positions compared to men, whereas if there was no discrimination the number we would expect is 50/50 thanks to the law of prbability.

The (polite version of) the counter-argument: So what, NOW we're supposed to hire people BECAUSE they're women? Isnt that blatant discrimination against men?! But feminists don't care about that kind of discrimination do they! So we're supposed to give a woman a job even if she doesnt deserve it as much as a man does, or we'll be labeled as sexist? MAYBE the female applicants are less qualified, or more men applied than women for the jobs cause the women want to have time off to have babies, there are loads of reasons why men might deserve those jobs more!

Of course you can substitute the word "women" with "blacks, minorities, gays, etc." and still have the same exact argument.

OK, let me explain it to you then. True, there are other factors that could influence a skewed percentage that does not involve prejudice or bigotry. So what is the reason? Let's try something called an experiment to find out.

Coincidentally, this kind of experiement has been conducted in the US to see if there was discrimination (whether subconscious or not) against African Amreicans. What did they do to investigate this?

1. Put up two adds on eBay for a product, which were identical in every way except that in the picture of the product there was either a white hand or a black hand holding it. People bid significantly lower amounts on the product held by the black hand.

2. Sent out CVs that were identical except some had a white-sounding name while the others had a black-sounding name. CVs with the black-sounding name were rejected more often than the white-sounding ones.

See, this is evidence that the skewed percentages of employees has something to do with racial discrimination. I don't know if they tried #2 with male and female names, but I would be astounded if such a study would not yield similar results. They should also combine the two, my prediction is the following classification of number of CVs accepted:

1. White man names
2. Black man names
3. White woman names
4. Black woman names

At least, that's what US history in civil rights issues leads me to believe. I would be extremely interested in seeing the results.

Anyway I guess my point is this: enough with the straw men you bunch of baby whiners. No one is trying to diminish the meritocracy. Gender and racial equality does NOT advocate for reverse discrimitation. It advocates for exactly what it says: equality. We want the person that truly deserves the position the most to get the job, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. Is that really so terrible an idea? Are there really people who are not in favor of that? I know that there are a bunch of bigots out there who will pretend to call bullshit and say this is really just a big conspiracy to put down the straight white man, the real minority, and all that noise. Even if you really believe that, still answer this question: supposing that the only thing that the [insert discrimination-victim group here] activists want is what I have just stated, would you be against that?

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