recent, Science / Tech, Women

Lies, Damned Lies, and STEM Statistics

Concerns about the number of women in STEM are misplaced for three reasons. First, the definition of the “T” is STEM is narrow and arbitrary (a lie); second, the definition of the “S” in STEM is narrow, arbitrary, and flagrantly wrong (a damned lie); and, third, while the causal attribution of sexism to explain low numbers of women in STEM (narrowly defined) is undoubtedly true in particular cases, it is unconvincing as a general explanation of the relative low numbers of women in some broad fields of PhD study. Better explanations for these disparities are readily available.

Victory for Women in US PhD Awards Nine Years Running

In the US, women have earned more PhDs than men for the past nine years. The most recent figures are shown in Table 1. Based on the data, I have added a column labelled “Parity.” A broad field is classified as having parity if the female percentage figure is in the range 40-60. If the female percentage figure is greater than 60 it is classified as female majority. If the male percentage figure is greater than 60 it is classified as male majority.

Of the 11 broad fields, four have parity, four are female majority and three are male majority.

Broad Field

Female %

Male %

Total PhDs


Health Sciences




Female majority





Male majority





Female majority

Social and Behavioural Sciences




Female majority

Biological and Agricultural Sciences





Physical and Earth Sciences




Male majority

Arts and Humanities





Mathematics and Computer Sciences




Male majority

Other Fields










Public Administration and Services




Female majority






Table 1: Doctoral degrees awarded by broad field and sex in the US (2016-17) Source: Council of Graduate Schools

I found these figures in an article published by the World Economic Forum. Read in a straightforward way, they show women are doing better than men in terms of acquiring PhDs.

Snatching Continuing Defeat from the Statistics of Victory

Good news for women one might think. The fact that women are getting more PhDs than men crushes the old-time sexist stereotypes that women are “incapable of reason” and that education is “wasted” on females. A key requirement for a PhD is to make an “original contribution to knowledge.” More women than men now make “original contributions to knowledge” in America. This is a truly significant development.

Indeed, the data shows girls at school and women at university have been doing better than males for decades now. A fair and reasonable society gives all its talent, not just half of it, a shot at the highest levels of education. The numbers show the US has achieved this positive outcome for nine years running.

These figures could have been used to write a positive story but instead the WEF article said:

More than half (53 percent) of the 79,000 doctoral degrees handed out in the United States last year went to women—a record high.

But as the … chart [reproduced in Table 1 above] shows, men still earned the majority of PhDs in most STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

Rather than celebrate the overall “record high,” the (female) author of the WEF article chose to reprise some well-worn complaints about women in STEM. The emphatic female majorities were skated over:

In some fields, as many as three-quarters of the PhDs awarded went to women, including public administration and services (75.6 percent), health sciences (70.3 percent) and education (68.8 percent). Women were also ahead of men in arts and humanities, as well as social and behavioral sciences.

None of these figures were considered “problems” in terms of gender parity by the author of the WEF article. No concern was expressed about the underrepresentation of men in any broad field of science. So, surprise, surprise, STEM (as usual) is the problem:

However, men still dominated in the fields of engineering (76.6 percent), mathematics and computer sciences (74.9 percent) and physical and earth sciences (65.9 percent), which suggests that more needs to be done to encourage women to study STEM subjects to a higher level.

There was no mention of any need to encourage more men to study health or social sciences at a higher level. Representation of men in four broad fields at a level below parity is apparently not a problem.

Dubious Definitions of Science and Technology

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. However, when people speak of “STEM” it seems they understand the “S” in STEM to refer to “hard” sciences like physics and chemistry but not “soft” sciences like psychology and neuroscience. The “T” in STEM seems to refer to computers, cars, oil refineries and aircraft but not to X-ray machines and fMRI scanners used in health, carbon-dating technology used in archaeology and vast corpuses of textual data processed on computers used in linguistics and political science. 

The “E” refers to engineering. The “M” refers to mathematics. I have no complaint about the “E” and “M,” my argument focuses on the narrow definitions of the “S” and “T” in STEM.

Some technologies are arbitrarily excluded (lies) and some sciences are arbitrarily excluded (damned lies) from what counts as STEM. These arbitrary exclusions result in a warped and gerrymandered definition. Narrowly defined, the aggregate figures for “STEM” are as shown in Table 2:

Broad Field

Female %

Male %

Total PhDs





Physical and Earth Sciences




Mathematics and Computer Sciences








Table 2: STEM (narrowly defined) doctoral degrees awarded by broad field and sex in the US (2016-17)

On this definition that excludes health sciences, social and behavioural sciences and biological and agricultural sciences from counting as science, one can present a “problem” in that women are “only” 27 percent of STEM PhDs thus defined.

Given the definition, the statistic is valid but I have yet to see a compelling argument that explains why having only 27 percent women in STEM PhDs is a “problem” and having “only” 24.4 percent men in public administration and services PhDs and “only” 29.7 percent of men in health sciences PhDs is not.

If one adopts a more accurate definition of the “S” in STEM, the “problem” of female underrepresentation disappears. This is done by not excluding health sciences, social and behavioural sciences and biological and agricultural sciences from STEM, on the grounds that these “broad fields” contain sciences as their names clearly indicate.

Further, these fields develop and use a lot of technology. How is a dentist’s drill not technology? How is a linguistics or political science “big data” corpus not technology? How is an X-ray machine used in radiography or the heart and breathing monitors used by nurses in an intensive care unit not technology? How is an fMRI scanner used in a neuroscience experiment not technology? How is a whiff of oxytoxin used in a psychology experiment not technology? How is examining and modifying DNA in biology and agricultural science not technology?

When STEM is accurately defined, using broader and more realistic definitions of science and technology, it turns out that women earn 50 percent of STEM PhDs as shown in Table 3:

Broad Field

Total PhDs

Female %



Female PhDs




Health Sciences














Social and Behavioural Sciences







Biological and Agricultural Sciences







Physical and Earth Sciences







Mathematics and Computer Sciences













Table 3: STEM (accurately defined) doctoral degrees awarded by broad field and sex in the US (2016-17)

The emphatic male majorities in “hard” sciences are balanced by emphatic female majorities in the health sciences and the “soft” social and behavioural sciences. So, if parity of women in STEM PhDs is a mission, the data in Table 3 shows this mission is accomplished.

This is not to suggest all is right in the world for women. Things remain pretty bleak in many non-Western countries and challenges regarding female promotion to senior levels remain, even in the West. It is merely to suggest, as the positive psychologists do, that one should count one’s blessings. A win is a win. The US PhD statistics are a major win for women in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

People and Things

As I did in Table 1 I have added an extra classification column (Focus) to Table 3. I have made a broad judgement that STEM narrowly defined (i.e. Engineering, Physical and Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Sciences) is focussed mostly on things. Two of the three broad fields excluded from the narrow definition of STEM are more focussed on people (Health Sciences, Social and Behavioural Sciences).

The third broad field excluded from STEM narrowly defined is Biological and Agricultural Sciences which I judge to be more about animals and plants than people or things. Animals and plants are like people in that they are living but, while animate, they are not people. Even so, they are more like people than rocks, planets, machines and stars. So I judge them to be a “halfway house” between the inanimate things that are (mostly) studied in the so-called “hard” sciences and the people that are studied in the health sciences and the so-called “soft” social and behavioural sciences. As the data shows, this “halfway house” turns out to be the most balanced broad field in terms of male and female participation rates in Table 3.

In summary, Table 3 would appear to confirm that males and females have roughly equal interests in animals and plants (living things). Males as a group are less into people and more into things. Females as a group tend to be more interested in people and less interested in things. This is hardly a revelation. Psychologists have known about this “people/things” asymmetry between the sexes for decades.

Now this is not to say that a particular woman is “incapable” of studying things or that women “can’t code” or whatever. Nor it is to say a particular man or woman cannot be interested in both people and things. Nor is it even to claim engineering is entirely about things not people. It is not. The people/things preference exists on a spectrum. It is not a simplistic “either/or” binary. What the figures show is that bright women as a group tend to be somewhat more interested in so-called “soft” sciences and somewhat less interested in so-called “hard” sciences. The entire hard/soft science distinction is hopelessly dated in any case. Indeed, one might be inclined to think this anachronistic distinction “phallocentric” but such language is not analytically useful. There is no great problem here: just re-confirmation of a well-known psychological finding about people and things.

The See-Saw Principle

If we assume that there is overall parity between the numbers of men and women and that roughly the same numbers are available to enter any broad field of PhD study, mathematically, you cannot have emphatic majorities of women in some sectors (e.g. health science and education) without emphatic minorities of women in other sectors (e.g. engineering and computing). Call this the see-saw principle.

If we let a 100 kids into a park (53 girls and 47 boys) with 11 see-saws in it and the girls stampede towards the 4 see-saws they think are preferable for whatever reason, and 4 see-saws have roughly equal numbers of boys and girls on them, we should not be unduly perturbed when we come across 3 see-saws with relatively few girls on them because we have simply run out of girls to put on see-saws. The majority freely chose to play on the 8 other see-saws based on their preferences and interests.

We do not need to argue there is something malevolent about the 3 see-saws with mostly boys compared to the 4 see-saws with mostly girls, if we have data that shows asymmetries in preferences for certain kinds of see-saw between the sexes. We have such data. If we liken the broad fields of PhD study to see-saws, we see that the see-saws involving people are more attractive to females: those involving things are more attractive to males. Some of the see-saws (Biological and Agricultural Sciences, Business, Arts and Humanities and Other Fields) are equally attractive to both males and females.

Sexism as an Explanation for Low Numbers of Women in STEM

From what I can tell, the complaints about women in STEM, are, to a large extent, based on a flawed definition of the “S” and “T ” in STEM (too narrow), flawed arithmetic (ignorance of the see-saw principle), and ignorance about psychology (the well-known “people/things” asymmetry). These complaints seem to be fuelled by anecdotes and surveys of sexism in engineering and the “hard” sciences. However, there are anecdotes and surveys of sexism in the health sciences, the law, the arts (#MeToo) and the humanities (Searle’s girls) too.

It strikes me as bizarre to suggest sexism is holding women down dramatically in some buildings of the contemporary university and not holding them down at all in adjacent buildings where they achieve emphatic majorities in terms of completing PhDs. The same HR policies regarding sexism, discrimination, harassment and so on apply everywhere on campus and in broader society. Numerous academics of global renown have been defenestrated for sexist acts (harassing and having affairs with female graduate students in the case of the philosopher, John Searle) and utterances (saying females are more likely to cry than men and are a distraction in a lab in the case of Tim Hunt, a 2001 Nobel laureate).

So, from the above we can conclude that sexism is not a particularly convincing explanation for the relative lack of women in STEM narrowly defined at university. I don’t doubt sexism explains some cases of women bailing out of engineering. I don’t doubt sexism explains some cases of women bailing out of medicine and law either. Everybody will run into a bad boss or a toxic colleague at work sooner or later. However, far more plausible explanations for the relatively low numbers of women in STEM narrowly conceived are the female preference for working with people rather than things and the see-saw principle, the simple fact that, given overall parity, it is statistically impossible for women to be an emphatic majority in one broad field without being an emphatic minority in another.

I fully support efforts to get more women into fields like AI, robotics, software development and chemical engineering. However, there is no evidence that nurses and primary school teachers are secretly frustrated roboticists or chemical engineers who deep down really want to work with things not people. Furthermore, getting more women into such fields entails getting fewer women into fields like nursing, education, medicine, and psychology. There is no escaping the see-saw: unless, of course, men become an emphatic minority at university.


Sean Welsh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and the author of Ethics and Security Automata, a research monograph on machine ethics. Prior to embarking on his PhD he worked as a software developer for 17 years. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_welsh77



  1. Ray Andrews says

    “There is no escaping the see-saw: unless, of course, men become an emphatic minority at university.”

    Of course. The idea is that women will dominate all high paying fields and men will be restricted to dirty, dangerous, debilitating and demanding work that women would rather not do. This will be achieved by Equity quotas of the sort we already have, especially for races. There is much more than money at stake tho. When the chief engineer at, say, a nuclear reactor is a black trans-lesbian because Equitron has calculated that black trans-lesbians have been under represented, and it turns out that that chief engineer doesn’t know plutonium from pluto, we could all be in some danger. I think of Africa where entire economies have been destroyed by replacing competent people in every part of that economy with other people for reasons of ‘justice’.

    • K. Dershem says

      “Affirmative action” for underrepresented groups makes sense if it involves outreach, openness and encouragement, breaking down barriers to achievement and dismantling systems that discriminate on the basis of irrelevant characteristics. In contrast, AA policies are unjust and counterproductive when they’re used to impose quotas. Equality of opportunity will not necessarily result in equality of outcome. In higher education overall, it seems like women currently have an advantage over men rather than a disadvantage. It’s absurd to insist that we haven’t achieved equity until exactly the same number of men and women earn advanced degrees in every discipline. The blank slate ideology is bankrupt: men and women differ from one another (on average; individuals obviously vary) in significant ways. Reasonable people can debate how much of this difference derives from biology and how much derives from experience, but attempts to deny or erase these differences are doomed to failure. I think it’s great to encourage girls to pursue math, engineering and physical science if they have the aptitude and interest, just as boys should we welcomed into the biological and behavioral sciences. But let’s not automatically blame “discrimination” if males and females make choices that result in a disproportionate distribution. Indeed, a recent study found “that [less egalitarian] countries such as Albania and Algeria have a greater percentage of women amongst their STEM graduates than countries lauded for their high levels of gender equality, such as Finland, Norway and Sweden,” perhaps because the former have less generous social safety nets, “making the choice of a relatively high-paid STEM career more attractive.”

      • Ray Andrews says

        @K. Dershem

        It goes to show you that we are always on a slippery slope. As you say, anything involving the removal of barriers is to be lauded, but slowly, slowly, the agenda transforms into outright reverse discrimination. I’ve more or less concluded that the Warriors are not to be persuaded tho — they are not slightly off the rails seekers of justice who might be reasoned with. They have an evil agenda that needs to be fought. Resentment is their dominant motivation and revenge is their goal.

        • K. Dershem says

          Ray, I agree with the first part of your statement: the most committed SJWs cannot be reasoned with. As John McWhorter and many others (including some writers on Quillette) have suggested, social justice has become a kind of woke religion. However, I’ve also found that ideologues on the other end of the spectrum are equally close-minded and intransigent. I’m less sure about the rest of your comment: “Resentment is their dominant motivation and revenge is their goal.” This may describe some identitarians (for example, Tommy Curry), but I think that most social justice activists are well-intentioned but misguided. I know this is a minority view among Quilletters, but I try to apply the principle of charity; I assume that people are sincere unless there’s compelling evidence to the contrary.

          • @K. Dershem

            I agree that many individual SJWs may be well intentioned, the ideology is not. Interesting that the same conundrum is found in Islam.

            One of the dangers of “Woke” ideologies, and there success in their takeover of so many aspects of people’s lives, is the pendulum effect.

            I am very socially conservative, and I follow many right wing conservative groups in my country.
            My country was the first nation to give women the vote. In the last few weeks I have come across many serious discussions on why women should not be allowed to vote, and sadly I do understand why young men now feel that way.

            For decades the left have spoken of a far-right which never existed here. They ran further and further left, destroying everything that the skilled workers valued. Their country, their God, and worst of all their family. They stole the dreams of hard working people, get an education or a trade and work hard. Most people are now afraid of what their children are being taught at kindergarten.

            And now we are demographically replaced? The left have succeeded in creating a credible extreme right. Reading both sides of the divide, I feel like I’m on the verge of civil war. Even if it results only in the clashes we saw over Vietnam there is still the pendulum.

            And again the upper middle class, including most politicians is totally oblivious. Because speech is at the same time suppressed and also universal there is now a a growing festering anger which encompasses class, gender, ethnicity, and religion.

            “If there’s war between the sexes there will be no people left ” Joe Jackson.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @K. Dershem

            “I’ve also found that ideologues on the other end of the spectrum are equally close-minded and intransigent.”

            Absolutely. All fundamentalists are equally dangerous. The sane folks are those of us huddling in the center and trying to be reasonable.

            “I think that most social justice activists are well-intentioned but misguided”

            It may be so. As always it’s the fanatics who make all the noise. They say the woke are something like 8% of the population but they are in control. Why? It seems to me it is simply because the squeaky wheel gets the grease and they do the most squeaking. And they are unethical. Unreasonable people tend to displace reasonable people when they get the chance which is how SJ came to own the universities. IMHO the most important thing we need to see right now is the moderate left recapture the microphone from the Victimologists. It will be interesting to see if Bernie can resist — I don’t think he’s a Warrior at heart, he still believes that even whites can have it tough.

        • ga gamba says

          To remove the barriers we must erect more barriers. Comrades! To the barriers!

          • Ted Maynard says

            Lefties are famous for this sort of thing. They shout people down and attack people to “stop hate” and “protect free speech.” George Orwell really did understand leftism in his book “1984” when he wrote “War is peace / freedom is slavery [and] ignorance is strength.” It is “doublethink” that the leftists are drawn to, as leftists tend to be people who emote rather than to think things through. Lot’s of fatuous sloganeering, never mind whether any of it makes sense.

      • D.B. Cooper says

        @K. Dershem

        ‘Affirmative action’ for underrepresented groups makes sense if it involves outreach, openness and encouragement, breaking down barriers to achievement and dismantling systems that discriminate on the basis of irrelevant characteristics.

        I agree with much of your post. I think it struck the appropriate balance. One question I do have with respect to the above passage is your position on what constitutes a system that “discriminates on the basis of irrelevant characteristics.” It seems to me that all systems discriminate by necessity, and if so, the question one is really left to answer is how to define the relevancy and/or legitimacy of a mediating unit (given characteristic). This question doesn’t lend itself to easy answers.

        For instance, is it at least sometimes the case that the legitimacy of a given attribute or feature (of a person) is conditional to the relevancy of the attribute/feature within a specific context? That is to say, can the legitimacy of an attribute depend on the attribute’s relevancy within a well-defined context? So, for example, if a company was hiring for a position that required physically strenuous labor, would it be legitimate for the company to discriminate against female applicants or even applicants of advanced age (+50-60 yrs. old)? Of course, I’m not suggesting that there aren’t women or 80-year-old seniors who aren’t every bit as capable as a 20-year-old man would be in a physically demanding positions, but having said that, we should also acknowledge that such people (women/seniors) are the exception, not the rule. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or selling something.

        Continually, it is also be the case that in a different context (a different job, e.g., admin position), it would be illegitimate to discriminate against applicants on the basis of age or sex, since these characteristics (age/sex) would be irrelevant to the applicant’s job performance. That is, a person’s age or sex isn’t – nor should it be – an inherently limiting characteristic with respect to the performance of administrative duties, whereas that is not necessarily the case with respect to labor intensive jobs. In short, a specific characteristic (age) may be considered relevant or irrelevant depending on the context/situation in which the personal attribute/feature is judged. If relevant, then I would argue it may be legitimate to discriminate on the basis on this (among other) characteristics. On the whole, this seems like a reasonable position, but maybe I’m overselling it or have made an error in judgment.

        The point I’m trying to press, but maybe haven’t as clearly as I would’ve liked, is that it is not at all obvious (at least to me) what constitutes a relevant from an irrelevant characteristic. Are they absolute (hair/eye color, height, etc.), or are they contingent (age, sex, education level, etc.)? The elephant in the room here is, obviously, race. Is race an arbitrary characteristic, in which case it is always irrelevant, i.e., wrong to discriminate on the basis of race, full stop? Or are there measurable (empirical) differences between races, such as aptitude, disposition, behavior, etc.? And if there are demonstrable differences are the differences significant enough to “justify” legitimate discriminatory practices? Are they informative, in and of themselves? In some domains, sex is widely used as a legitimate means of discrimination. Could race be applied in a similar manner? It’s not clear to me that it can, but I would be interested to know your thoughts.

        • David Pittelli says

          Given that it is easy to test for an ability to perform “physically strenuous labor,” no, it is not legitimate for a “company to discriminate against female applicants or even applicants of advanced age.” But your argument does tend to show why disparate impact analysis should not apply to such hiring (e.g., the loading dock crew may legitimately consist “disproportionately” of young men).

          There may be many jobs where group average aptitudes or interests will vary enormously, such that we should not be outraged at the racial composition of NBA players or of farmers, but in very few cases (e.g., actors playing male parts) would it be legitimate to discriminate in favor of a race or sex that is dominant in the category. (Opinions vary as to when one might properly discriminate in favor of the race or sex which is underrepresented in the category.)

          • ga gamba says

            Given that it is easy to test for an ability to perform “physically strenuous labor,” no, it is not legitimate for a “company to discriminate against female applicants or even applicants of advanced age.”

            David, I’m not picking on you, but I see this argument pop up so often that I’ve concluded it’s been normalised. I’m wondering, does it deserve to be? Things that are normalised may not be good, for example drawing and quartering convicts and putting their heads on pikes was once normal. Burning witches was another one. Headhunting and cannibalism too. Privateering was normalised from time to time. Using mercury as medicine was once normal too.

            As the owner of private business spending my own money, I think I have the right to hire whomever I want for whatever reason that appeals to me. If it’s a bad choice, it’s my money at stake. If I only want to hire family and friends, may I do so? What if I want to hire many athletic men for work that isn’t physically strenuous because I want them for my company’s afterwork sports team? Maybe I feel sympathy for single parents, and I decide to not only prioritise their hiring, but pay them more than others too. May I do so? I acknowledge others may be upset, but that’s an outcome I’m willing to accept. What about attributes that are difficult to quantify and document on a CV or for a labour audit, such as a great sense of humour, dark wit, or charisma? Maybe I only want to hire twinks.

            The reason I’m challenging what’s been normalised is because I think it was an over reach by the government.

            Now, I would not permit this by the government since it must treat all citizens equally. That said, should the government only hire citizens and not resident aliens unless shortfalls exist and the government puts in place measures to address the shortfall by training citizens?

          • Ray Andrews says

            @ga gamba

            “As the owner of private business spending my own money, I think I have the right to hire whomever I want for whatever reason that appeals to me.”

            I’m of two minds on that. My own business was entirely unregulated, I hired exactly who I wanted for reasons that were entirely my own affair. I fired people on the spot if I felt it was necessary. Small businesses are still very much like that in Canada especially when the business tends to have a fluctuating amount of work anyway. But IMHO the balance tips with bigger businesses where ones boss is also merely an employee and where office politics of one form or another might have nothing to do with ones genuine utility to the business. Very generally I’d favor some sort of understanding that if a business is big enough to have a HR department it’s big enough to have Human Rights, but little guys still need 100% discretion on who they want to work with.

          • ga gamba says

            @Ray, Fair point about large companies, especially those that are corporations where ownership is dispersed amongst thousands of shareholders. My thinking was of sole proprietorships and partnerships. I suppose it could be applied to corporations if a supermajority of shareholders approved it and protection is given to those who oppose it with the corporation buying back their shares at the market price before the announcement was made public – I reckon the share price would take a hit with the announcement.

            Personally, I doubt shareholders would approve of such a measure because they’re in it for the profit and not for the managers to field a formidable corporate golf team, hire their brothers-in-law, or ogle twinks’ bottoms – not that there’s anything wrong with any or all of the three.

        • K. Dershem says

          @D.B.: Insofar as possible, I think that applicants should be judged as individuals. There are undeniable differences between “races” in terms of IQ, but these are only averages. It might seem rational to use skin color as a heuristic based on statistical probabilities, and there seems to be evidence that many managers do exactly that (probably subconsciously). In my view, however, people should not be pre-judged on the basis of their group identity.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @K. Dershem

            In the best of all possible worlds we would have perfect knowledge of the attributes of the person sitting in front of us applying for a job and therefore any bias of any kind would be improper. But in the real world we are almost always making an educated guess how someone is likely to turn out and our guess will unavoidably be a summary of everything we know about them.

            I believe we all have this situation evaluator bot in our brains that — astonishingly quickly — gives us a report on our current situation as to its potential opportunities and potential dangers. This bot works far below the executive or moral level and it always tells the truth irrespective of PC. For example, if I’m a cop, it tells me that a young black male is a hundred times more likely to try to shoot me than is a young asian female. However much implicit bias training I get, the bot will not stop knowing what it knows; it never lies. Thus, confronted with a young black male, a cop’s finger is tighter on the trigger than it would otherwise be and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

            It’s the same with every social interaction. In my business I was racially biased — I deliberately hired Indians affirmatively. But I also knew that they were less reliable because they are less reliable. I am forbidden to know that, but I can’t help knowing it. Were my situation tighter than it was, I would have hired disaffirmatively, I confess it.

          • D.B. Cooper says

            @David Pittelli
            @K. Dershem

            One example I like to reference, if only because it gets to the heart of the matter, is the well-known differences in auto-insurance rates that exists between teenage girls and teenage boys with the latter having considerably higher premiums.

            It’s overt in the sense that it’s widely (if not universally) practiced, nor is it concealed in any manner. Just ask your agent why your son and daughter have different rates and they’ll be all to glad to explain their flagrant discriminatory practices. Having said that, I wouldn’t describe it as ‘malicious’ for the simple fact that these differences stem from risk assessments (actuarial risk) and not maniacal third-wave feminists sitting on the boards of companies euphorically twisting their mustaches; although there not mutually exclusive, so both things (risk assessments & feminists with mustaches) could be true.

            In any case, I personally don’t have a problem with this type of discrimination b/c frankly if teenage boys would learn how to drive their risk scores would go down. The interesting part about this is that it’s not clear why such reasoning (blind actuarial fairness) couldn’t also be applied to mortgage loans. Surely, certain cohorts (sex, age, race, etc.) would have differences in default rates. It would be an absolute shock if you couldn’t discern trends between different cohorts with sufficient reliability. I just can’t believe that’s not the case. And if so, why would auto-insurance rates be legitimate and mortgage rates not be. In truth, I don’t think there’s a difference.

            Strike that… obviously, there’s a difference. Discriminating against men (for women) is socially acceptable. When I say, there’s no difference, I mean a difference that doesn’t appeal to normative ethics that are themselves illegitimate.

      • Isaac Balbin says

        No. It’s the Jordan Peterson principle. The more you try to equalise the further apart they become. Hence Scandinavia.

    • Ray, a nuclear reactor?

      Ray. Ray Ray Ray.

      Get with the program. The trans black lesbian will be in charge of a windmill (a la Don Quixote) and ze will know exactly what to do when the wind blows.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @benita canova (@benitacanova)

        Thanks, I stand corrected. Yes, all DWM-colonialist-corporate tech is to be abolished.

    • Num num says

      The claimed goal of demographic parity in education and professions looks like a weaker description of actual “social justice” action than simply excluding white males from society.

      Social Justice fact: white male underrepresentation is never a problem, but white male overrepresented is always a problem. Just do the logic, this describes an ethos where the complete eradication of white males is not only not a problem, it’s less problematic than other possible states of affair where there are too many of them.

    • Stan Olson says

      Amazing! Men are different from Women; different interests, different goals, different ambitions. Who’da thunk it?

  2. Chris K says

    I was having this discussion with two faculty at my institution just the other day. I am a PhD candidate in biology and all one really has to do is count the number of women grad students in our department , something like 50 women and 20 men (obviously I haven’t actually done this). I was dismissed when I brought up this simple point, with both faculty members saying that the numbers of women drop rapidly at the post-doc and tenure track positions. These folks then went on to talk about their women in STEM event next month as though it is something sorely needed. I am fine with this, I really care very little if women in STEM events are held. But I also disagree with someone being hired based on being a women, which has actually happened in my lab at the grad student level. I want to make sure that my own maleness doesn’t negatively affect my prospects going forward in academia (i.e., quota systems and the like).

    • E. Olson says

      Chris – I wish I could be encouraging, but assuming you are a white heterosexual male (or perhaps Asian) the only career paths you are likely to have available to you in academia are at the top or the bottom of your field. If you manage to get your work published in elite journals, and/or are able to get some serious grant money to fund your research during your PhD/post-doc years so that you are far and away above competing female or victim minority applicants, you may get lucky and get a nice tenure track position as a very good research school. And if you work like hell and have a bit of luck with publishing and grants, prove to be serviceable teacher, and don’t express any non-Leftist political viewpoints with your colleagues, you will hopefully get tenure and have a nice career.

      On the other hand, if you are merely average or slightly above average in your PhD measurable outputs, and therefore don’t clearly stand head and shoulders above female and victim minority applicants, you are very unlikely to get a position at a good research school, and are therefore going to need to look at a more teaching oriented schools or industry for employment (i.e. places not high enough in the status hierarchy to attract quality female or minority applicants). You might still have a very pleasant and meaningful career at such a place, and perhaps even have a chance at moving up if you work like hell to do some significant publishing and grant writing while carrying a heavy teaching and service load, but you may just need to accept that this is as far as your white male privilege will carry you.

      And if you are homosexual, or 1/64 Native American, or have any other trace of victim status, make sure to clearly state your lack of privilege in all your job applications, and perhaps you will one day get a tenure track position at Harvard, go on to be a US Senator, and perhaps even become President.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        I wonder if it has been studied: at what fraction does ones Victimhood as an Indian wash out? Even Warren has sorta given up on her Victimhood as an Indian given that the Cherokees are having none of it. But here in Canada a 1/8 Indian is still entitled to 100% Victimhood with all the perks. 1/16 and, sorry, but you revert to being an ordinary person. But that’s legalities. Among the woke, where is the cutoff?

        • E. Olson says

          Ray – Does your transdolphinism get you perks anywhere besides Seaworld?

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            Not yet, but is should and it will. And don’t forget that I’m a left-flippered dolphin too, so don’t be throwing me any dextrocentric pool toys. I want left-affirming beach balls and such.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Chris K

      I want to make sure that my own maleness doesn’t negatively affect my prospects going forward in academia (i.e., quota systems and the like).

      I am, rather bravely, prepared to be the bearer of bad news. Your suspicions are warranted. Much like my desire not to be used by women for my good looks, rapist wit, and large trust fund; your desire not to be negatively affected due to a lack of mammory glands is, well… a hopeless desire. It seems more likely than not, we are both doomed to our fate, but I for one am willing to suffer the injustice… each… and… every… one… with dignity. I suggest you consider the same.

      As an aside, E. Olson’s advice isn’t bad. If you decide on going a different route, you may want to give them serious consideration. Yes, I know, you didn’t want or create (I assume) the illegitimate environment you’ve found yourself in, but simply because the rules of your environment are corrupt, it doesn’t follow that you shouldn’t take advantage of the illegitimacy of these rules. Only a fool would continue to play a game that was designed – purposely, I would argue – for him to lose. There’s no honor in showing up to lose, anymore than there’s dishonor in leveraging the fraudulent practices of a dishonest game.

      But if it’s your conscious you’re worried about, order a 23andMe ancestry kit. When your results come back they will almost certainly show some percentage of African/Native American ancestry, at which point, you can legitimately start claiming minority status with the benefit of a clear conscious. Good luck and good hunting.

      p.s. if you’re unlucky enough to be 100% white, then your only option is to begin dropping subtle hints about your boyfriend while your superiors are within ear shot.

      • theunderscoretraveler says

        you might mean ‘rapier wit’ rather than ‘rapist wit’ in the second line of your first paragraph.

        • D.B. Cooper says


          I stand corrected, Sir. ‘Rapier wit’ it is, indeed. I have a terrible habit of not running these things threw spell check – it’s laziness more than anything. Which brings me to the reason for this response (other than to congratulate you on that fine spellcheck pick-up, of course):

          Do you travel? I know that may seem redundant considering you’ve signaled as much (adding a few ‘underscores’ may reduce the ambiguity), but I thought I’d get a solid confirmation one way or the other. I ask, because as I’m sure you know, my spelling/grammar leaves a lot to be desired, and seeing as how you have an eye for such things, I thought maybe you could just bird-dog my comments from here on out. A win-win, if ever there was one, eh?

        • Asenath Waite says


          Oh, I assumed that was a “Dumb and Dumber” reference.

      • You missed the advise to mutter about “feeling like a woman today”. Temporary trans-feeling is even harder than sexual orientation to pin down.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @D.B. Cooper

        Or he could practice high heels and come out as a transwoman. Someone should offer classes. Just as in the bad old days negroes, Middle Easterners and even southern Europeans would try to look whiter, so today one tries to look blacker or even better, one transitions. For a few grand, one might take a course in being female — heels, makeup, wardrobe, wigs, mannerisms. Remember that ‘two-spirited’ counts, so one might be male all the rest of one’s day, but one is female at work and that’s just fine.

        • D.B. Cooper says


          Sound advice. Spoken like a true sage.

      • Freddy G says

        Great comment. But, yes “rapier” not “rapist” and “conscience” not “conscious.”

        • D.B. Cooper says

          Jesus, men! This has to be the most pedantic group of individuals I have encountered in quite some time. I like the attention to detail, though. There’s nothing wrong with calling balls and strikes in this place.

          That said, I’m not above begging for leniency. Would y’all be more willing to overlook my difficulties with the English language if I said I’m from South. Our vernacular barely qualifies as English. This is a well-established fact.

  3. Saw file says

    Good article.
    I wish that Quillette would occasionally forward an article that deals with John/Jane Average (aka: the majority), in regards these types of issues.
    Even after decades of preferential recruitment and the lowering of the standards, women still are less than 5% of the skilled trades.
    Feminists wholy attribute this huge disparity to sexism, when in fact it has almost zero to do with it.
    Plus the fact that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to recruit any young person into the skilled trades.
    Higher education is not the only path to meaning and being, in our “society’s”
    There is quite a bit more to the world than just the sphere of higher education.
    I would spend the time to tackle the topic, if I believed there was a chance of it being ‘ put out there.’

    • Quite so, Saw file. Women in trades such as electricians and plumbers make up around 2% of the those occupational sectors. Most areas of software engineering have way better numbers. For example web developers are about 33% and data base admins about 40% according US Bureau of Labor statistics. If you want to collaborate on an article focused on the trades, ping me on Twitter. I did touch on this stuff in my Brotopia article here on Quillette but I was focused on my own trade which is software engineering.

  4. Sean L. says

    The truth no body is talking about: women have a smaller brain (in relation to body mass), a lower IQ (about 10% lower), more concentrated in the middle (lack of top performers) intellectually. I am a computer engineer, in my career, I only see 2% percent of women in the profession, 0% blacks.

    Stop talking about women in STEM field, just stop.

    • K. Dershem says

      Sean, can you provide evidence that women are 10% less intelligent (on average) than men? That contradicts everything I’ve read. There’s some evidence that bigger brains correlate to higher IQs, but the effect seems to be far smaller than you suggest.

      Regarding your other point, this study seems relevant:

      “Researchers at Duke studied SAT scores of intellectually promising 7th graders (ages 12 to 13) over the last 30 years. The figure below took the ratio of boys to girls who scored in the top 1%, 0.5%, and 0.01% of the distribution in math scores (girls have a slight edge on the verbal SAT, but the differences are not nearly as large).

      Up to the top 1%, boys and girls are nearly equal. But the higher into the tail you get, the bigger the differences emerge—and the boys dominate. In the 1980s, there were 13.5 boys for every girl in the top 0.01%, now there are only 3.8. The decline shows a large share of the gap was social conditioning, whether because of girls being told they could not be great at math or not being encouraged to take hard math classes. But a significant gap remains—some of if representing that we have further to go and some of it raising more uncomfortable questions about differences in innate ability.

      This suggests women may be less likely to be extreme math stars, but they display a more well-rounded intelligence. It’s hard to separate out what’s biological and environmental because intelligence reflects what you study and how intensely you pursue it. People are often drawn to what they are good at and what they have access to. Lubinski and his coauthors observed that women are more drawn to working with people and jobs that prize communication. Many talented women, for a number of reasons like discrimination or just their personal preferences, don’t end up as research scientists.”

      • Ray Andrews says

        @K. Dershem

        “In the 1980s, there were 13.5 boys for every girl in the top 0.01%, now there are only 3.8. The decline shows a large share of the gap was social conditioning”

        Or, the war against boys has been a resounding success. The entire agenda of PC educational theory is to flatten those numbers and it has proven far easier to destroy success in boys than to improve success in girls. If you pursue the statistics a bit more you will see that almost all of the narrowing has been due to drastically worse performance for boys. I aught to know, I’m a math tutor and I work with the wreckage of the educational system every day. Boys are essentially viewed as irrelevant, they are not on the agenda except to make sure that they suffocate. I’m about to start with a 30 year old man who has his grade 10 math, like he has to … but he can’t add. He fell off the conveyor belt in grade two and no one has given a damn about it. His grade 10 is a complete fraud as he is the first to admit. But he’s only a male so who cares?

        • Ray Andrews says

          But there is something to the idea that females have more ‘parallel processing’ ability. No woman can beat me at chess, but they routinely beat me at scrabble. Chess is linear, scrabble is more creative, but I’d not call a scrabble star anything but exceptionally intelligent. One can see how a hunter must put 100% of his mind on the one task at hand whereas a woman back at the campfire must be thinking about a dozen things at the same time. I’ve never thought that any notion that men are smarter than women is even worth thinking about, but there is no question that men are better at systematic and linear tasks.

          • Skallagrimsen says

            Judith Polgar can’t beat you at chess? You must one of the greatest players of all time. She beat Kasparov.

          • D.B. Cooper says

            @Ray Andrews

            Mr. Andrews, I didn’t figure you for a mathematician. Of course, if truth be known, I didn’t figure you for anything. My apologies, that came out wrong. What I meant was, I didn’t presuppose your vocation at all, not that I didn’t think you had one. I knew (assumed) you were gainfully employed in some trade/profession/line of work.

            In any event, I may require your services – in an advisory capacity, of course – at some point in the future. For reasons unknown, I never had much of a taste for the maths, myself, nor did I ever acquire much of one. I never struggled in math per se, but I did/do have a rather pronounced lack of interest in the subject.

            My apathy aside, I wanted to make a couple-three comments on some things you said in various post (in this thread), and rather than addressing each one individually, I figured it would be more efficient to simply address them all under one single comment.

            I’m about to start with a 30 year old man who has his grade 10 math, like he has to … but he can’t add. He fell off the conveyor belt in grade two and no one has given a damn about it.

            Firstly, I should admit that my opinions here are spoken (typed?) from a place of ignorance. Unlike yourself and @D-Rex, I am not an educator, nor have I ever been. While there’s no doubt it is an honorable profession; speaking personally, my disposition does not lend itself to the education field. That said, it’s good to know we still have a few educators with both good sense and common decency. From what I’m told (by friends), public schools have become an exercise in managed chaos – which sounds exactly like the last place I could be (I don’t suffer fools well) – so, here’s a much deserved tip-of-the-hat to you gentlemen. Keep up the good work.

            Anyway, with respect to the 30-year-old mentioned in the passage above, I can’t help but think his problems go much deeper than him falling “off the conveyor belt in grade two (2nd grade, I assume you mean).” Let me be blunt for a moment – with all due respect to him and acknowledgement to your expertise, if this guy is 30 yrs. old and can’t it’s more likely than not his problems started a wee bit earlier than 2nd grade. Frankly, I’m thinking it’s more like the moment of conception. Honestly, Ray we’re talking about adding integers, right? We’re talking about adding for crying out loud. That’s not exactly a concept that takes a great deal of frontal lobe development. I mean, if you told me old boy was struggling with Euclidean geometry or differential equations, then okay, I can buy that; but adding? Has he been checked for Downs? At minimum, I’m thinking a mild-to-moderate intellectual disability here. I don’t know, I’m just not buying his trip and fall off the conveyor belt non-excuse, excuse. But, again, this isn’t my area, so who knows.

            I’ve never thought that any notion that men are smarter than women is even worth thinking about, but there is no question that men are better at systematic and linear tasks.

            I have some familiarity with this subject, though anecdotal. While in grade school (public), I was nominated by one of my teachers to take an entrance exam for a special program known The Gifted Program. I’m not sure if this was just what my school district called it or if it was a state/national program. Anyway, a few years later I found out that this entrance exam was actually just an IQ test (Wescher Intelligence Scale), which made sense, since it was unlike any test I had ever taken. For whatever reason they don’t tell the kids what they’re actually taking. What’s interesting about this is that throughout my middle & high school years, my gifted class was approx. 70/30 male-to-female and all white – crispy white, in fact. Of course, as a kid, you don’t necessarily notice such things and if you do, you never really think or care to ask why that’s the case.

            Now, the best part – by which I mean, the part you’re really going to love – is that I ran into my gifted teacher a few years back, and come to find out, she had quit the program entirely. Why? The district’s admin officials began to feel like there was something inherently illegitimate about the Gifted program because it didn’t properly represent the general student body’s ethnic and gender makeup. You read that correctly – equality of outcome scores, again. And so, in all their wisdom, the admin officials decided the best way to remedy this situation was to lower the entry scores as to allow ‘underrepresented’ populations a better chance at getting into the program. Anyway, my old teacher said after the district lowered the minimum entry score from 130 to 115, she was slowly forced to removed more and more of the program’s original lesson plans in order to accommodate the new students. In her words, this eventually crippled the program and she quit. In all fairness, who could’ve guessed that lowering entry standards, would have adverse effects on the quality of the program? Common-freaking-sense, that’s who! If you didn’t know better, you’d swear it was malicious intent.

            No woman can beat me at chess…

            Okay, but what’s your record against rednecks? Not so good, I’m betting. Not so good. Do you have an ELO rating? What about a preferred opening? I’m partial to Queen’s Gambit, myself. We’ll settle up later.

          • Ray Andrews says


            Pardon me, I should have said ‘no woman that I have ever played’.

            Oh, and the lady’s name is Judit, not Judith.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @D.B. Cooper

            You do have a talent for the keyboard D.B, your words flow like fine wine.

            “I’m thinking a mild-to-moderate intellectual disability here”

            See, that’s the tragedy. This guy has beaten me at chess; he is a successful tradesman, he is of somewhat higher than average intelligence. So profound, so perfected is the ability of the system to bugger your brains that they can gaslight your ability to add. Yes. They instill a phobia, a hatred of math so profound that one supposes one can’t add and therefore one turns in nausea from even trying. I wish I was exaggerating.

            “Do you have an ELO rating?”

            I only play for fun. When I was a kid I took an oath that I would never study and I only play live.

            Italian. Always.

        • D-Rex says

          @ Ray,
          You are correct but K. Dershem is also correct. I would say that his assessment may no longer apply (debatable) but lasted a lot longer and that the war against boys is a more recent phenomenon. As a high school science teacher, I’ve noticed that I have more high achieving girls than boys and there are reasons for that that you alluded to but I also know that our recently retired maths senior up to only a few years ago refused to let girls into the pure maths class and showed a distinct bias towards the boys at all levels. It was only when girls started getting merit awards in applied maths, which reflected positively for him, that he started giving them any real attention. My male students who show great potential seem to also have a lack of determination that my best female students have and don’t achieve what they could have.
          I should also note WRT more males in the highest ability percentage, that there is a disproportionate % of maths geniuses on the autism spectrum and also that most people on the spectrum are male. This may be a contributing factor that, when accounted for, eliminates the difference at the highest level. But I’m only suggesting this for maths.

          • Ray Andrews says


            Thanks. A comment like that reeks of honesty. Of course our experiences won’t be identical, but even when I was in high school in the 70’s the idea that someone could refuse girls admission into some class or other would have seemed medieval.

            “My male students who show great potential seem to also have a lack of determination that my best female students have and don’t achieve what they could have.”

            That’s the worst of it, the sense of purposelessness. The feminization of education has really left boys adrift.

            ” maths geniuses on the autism spectrum and also that most people on the spectrum are male”

            Some say that autism is a form of hyper masculinity so correcting for it would be somewhat illogical in this context, I’d say.

          • Tierarzt says

            Autism spectrum is a bogus concept. Being anti-social, OCD and super-intelligent is not the same as being retarded, unable to wash yourself and unable to learn language.

      • Sean L. says

        K. Dershem, I am not able provide you evidence at the moment, because most of that comes from what I read online (of course this kind of study rarely gets chance to be published). However I can give you a few things you can make sense yourself: 1. Among Nobel Prize winners, how many women in the list. 2. Look back your middle school and high school years (I excluded elementary, because girls mature earlier), How many girls are in top 10 in your class. In my case, not even 1 in many years of my middle to high school classes. I lived in an environment where boys and girls have absolutely equal chance.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Sean L.

          I was beaten out for top spot in grade 12 math by a quiet girl. This was back before it was policy to try to destroy mathematical interest in boys, but at the same time talent in girls was most welcome. There was basically zero gender politics in it. Talent was talent, and in my class, she was smarter than me. But that’s not the usual outcome either.

      • E. Olson says

        K – most research suggests that in fully mature brains, men have a 3-4 point median IQ advantage over woman, but the more important difference is the greater male IQ variance so that at the “genius” level men outnumber women by 7+ to 1. Studies that find female equivalent or higher than male IQs are almost invariably done in adolescence where girls have an advantage because they mature faster. Although the author does not talk about it, the gender differences in the PhD fields where males or females dominate also corresponds closely with the male IQ advantage findings, as men dominate the high IQ fields and women dominate more of the lower IQ fields (see link).

        • K. Dershem says

          That seems right, although it’s worth nothing that men are more likely than women to occupy the low end of the bell curve: i.e., there are more male geniuses, but there are also more male morons.

      • I don’t believe there is evidence that shows women in aggregate are “less intelligent” than men. The distribution of IQ (if you accept IQ as reasonable measure of “intelligence”) differs. There are more male morons and geniuses than women but the average in IQ is pretty similar. However, there are lots of other traits that contribute to career success (tenacity, risk appetite, self-control). There are clear asymmetries in empathy and physical strength and other testosterone linked traits – anger, fury, rage, criminality. Women are far less likely to end up in jail than men. Better self-control, less appetite for criminal risks. Hans Rosling has good graphs on SAT scores in Factfulness. Overall though it seems women are perfectly capable of getting PhDs, the other things, postdocs, tenure and such will follow on in due course, one would think.

      • Greg Allan says

        “Sean, can you provide evidence that women are 10% less intelligent (on average) than men?”

        Prior to our politically correct modern era this was well understood. The difference in average IQs was about 3-4% – rather than 10 – and males predominated at the upper AND lower ends. That predominance at extremes is true with almost every measurable attribute. The species gets it’s diversity from the male side of the equation.

        • What does 3-4% difference in IQ mean? There is no absolute measure of IQ. If there were, it would mean it would be possible to define zero intelligence. IQ scores are designed to have a mean of 100 and a standard variation of 15. If you have an IQ score of 115, you are not 15% more intelligent than the average, but you are in the top 1/6 of the population.
          IQ tests are also designed to equalise between men and women. I read that, when spatial tests were removed, the average score for women was 103 rather than 100. No doubt if verbal tests were removed, it would be found that the men were smarter.

    • @Sean. L

      It’s a bit more complex than brain size, rather a bell curve, most intelligent women have equal IQ to the Average male IQ, but very few are at the extreme.

      I know a five year old boy with an IQ of 160, his grandmother taught him his alphabet and numbers before he was one, he was fully literate before he was two, before he was four he was delving into Greek and Latin terms for animals and dinosaurs, using his stressed mothers mobile phone.

      His female teacher has made him repeat year one?

      The reason is, he doesn’t like colouring in, he shows little interest in recycling, and whilst understanding phonetics and able to phonetically read short words like the other children. He continues to read and write “long words” (teachers words) which she has not taught him how to read or write.

      It seems the feminists were right! The unequal distribution of the IQ bell curve that favoured men was socially indoctrinated at a young age of course. This paragraph is sarcasm.

      • @ Ray Andrews

        The boy I describe above is supposedly autistic. However I have consulted with psychiatrists my age and older and he would not have been considered so in the 1980s for example.

        His mother had him diagnosed at the age of 3, so she would be entitled to a pension as she is now caring for a disabled child.

        And so the world goes round and round. Where it stops nobody knows?

        • Ray Andrews says


          Yup. Some say I’m ‘on the spectrum’. I’m not sure if high functioning autism is even a thing. But folks do use the diagnosis to advantage.

          • @Ray Andrews

            My personal opinion is that high functioning autism is just a nasty way of saying high IQ. Going back to the bell curve, where almost all women are in the 90-100 range, combined with single motherhood and the complete feminisation of the education system, there are two many women in control of children ,who are themselves too stupid to recognize intelligence beyond their own limits.

          • Ray Andrews says


            ” high functioning autism is just a nasty way of saying high IQ”

            Another attempt at pathologizing males, perhaps?

          • High functioning autism is a thing. This is classic Baron-Cohen research. People with autism have trouble with “empathy” (EQ) but sometime rock at “systemizing” (SQ). You can’t empathize with a compiler so a lot of “gun” (= really good) software coders are “high on the spectrum” and software suits such folk better than nursing (obviously).

        • Autism is just the polite, modern term for ‘mentally retarded’. Given that this child has developed so rapidly in reading and writing he cannot be autistic. Autism is associated with developmental delay, not accelerated or early development.

          • “Autism is just the polite, modern term for ‘mentally retarded’. Given that this child has developed so rapidly in reading and writing he cannot be autistic. Autism is associated with developmental delay, not accelerated or early development.”

            There are so many incorrect things in this statement I don’t know where to begin.

            Perhaps you could start to cure yourself of believing so many long-standing myths by conducting a simple internet search of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

            IQs for those on the spectrum vary wildly, from the bottom .0001% to the top .0001%. Developing rapidly in reading/math is not remotely a disqualifier for autism. In fact, it is not uncommon in the slightest. I developed quite rapidly in any subject area that required finding patterns, rules, systematic approaches, connecting many different concepts in ways that made sense, spotting error/inconsistency, memory, etc., etc.

            Where I was severely delayed developmentally were areas that were erratic, unpredictable, and subject to constant change/revision of definition, beliefs, and “what is known” -primarily social “norms” which change rapidly and social situations that do not have defined acceptability as they vary greatly from person to person, day to day, situation to situation, and can even vary drastically for the same person at different moments depending on the mood the individual is in or who enters/leaves the room (things “normal” people seem to automatically adjust for with little/no conscious effort).

            I also have some serious external stimuli processing issues, but I have heard this is no longer part of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder now that they have lumped in various disorders like Asperger’s and PPD-NOS into one big category and simply eliminated them as separate disorders.

          • Yeah JM that’s great. My point is that the idea of an autism spectrum is bogus. People who are extremely intelligent but lack certain or all social skills are clearly not the same as severely mentally retarded people who cannot learn language and still cannot go to the toilet unaided as adults. The mythology of an autism spectrum has led people to think that everybody with autism is Rainman, when most genuinely autistic people are retarded.

  5. A human says

    An average female brain has roughly 30% lower synaptic density than the average male brain. This could be the reason why females cannot do STEM tasks as good as males can.

    • D-Rex says

      ‘An average female brain has roughly 30% lower synaptic density than the average male brain.’
      That’s a fairly broad sweeping statement that treats the brain as a single unit and doesn’t consider all of the different parts to it. What does synaptic density indicate? Is it fixed or can it change over time and if so, what facilitates such a change?
      ‘This could be the reason why females cannot do STEM tasks as good as males can.’
      There appears to be no evidence that supports this statement. Rather it seems to be mostly a matter of choice.

    • Speaking personally, I know plenty of capable women in STEM. Indeed, I know eminent women in my little corner of STEM (which is AI ethics, robot ethics, machine ethics), e.g. Joanna Bryson, Virginia Dignum, Francesca Rossi. I have worked with plenty of capable female coders. However, they have always been outnumbered by men.

    • @ Ray Andrews


      But there is a secondary pathology too. By transforming the privilege of raising and teaching an intelligent child, into the trauma of raising a disabled child, therefore gathering those much prized “Victim points”

  6. Bill says

    Y’all seem to have missed the author’s whole point in your own debates about why women “cannot do STEM tasks….” Perhaps higher synaptic density is what makes the “less hard” sciences less attractive to men which leads to the female majority?

    Of course, according to SJW/PC speak, there is no difference between men and women. They are physically and genetically identical hence why gender is just a social construct.

    • Kencathedrus says

      It’s that part of the argument that always gets me. If gender is merely a social construct (ie meaningless) what does it matter if more men are in STEM than women?

  7. ga gamba says

    Firstly, we should not expect a 50:50 split because the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports women are 46.9 per cent of the workforce.

    When compared to the rest of the world, is this an anomaly? Are American women underrepresented by 3.1 percentage points (about 6%) because they don’t have paid maternity leave, free or subsidised pre-school for their children, or some other social benefit?

    Looking at Worldbank’s data of women’s participation in the workforce worldwide we find that of the OECD countries, ones where women have the package of “family friendly” benefits intended to make having and holding work easier, women’s participation is also less than 50%. The OECD average is 43.92% and the EU average is 45.88%. Canada is 47.22%, Denmark 47.41%, Finland 48.05%, France 47.02%, Germany 46.5%, Iceland 47.32%, Ireland 44.32%, Italy 42.07%, Japan 43.32%, Korea 41.86%, Luxembourg 45.15%, New Zealand 47.42%, Norway 47.11%, Portugal 48.84%, Spain 46.45%, Sweden 47.66%, and the UK 46.54%. Note: the Worldbank reports the US is 45.8%, which differs from the BLS. Still, whether it’s 46.9% or 45.8%, the US is amongst its peers.

    Perhaps it’s capitalism that’s keeping women out of the workforce. Of the countries that still claim adherence to socialism (correctly implemented or not) China is 43.53%, Cuba 38.28%, N. Korea 47.76%, Laos 49.72%, and Vietnam 48.11%.

    That proves it. The Laotian model of socialism is the one best for women. Brace yourselves for the rewarding career of listening to the rice grow.

    The article could of and should have dug deeper into the types of careers. The author is right that the definitions appear to be quite limited. For example, in education do students still learn maths, science, computer programming, and other sciency and techy things? Ought not educators of these subjects be included in the STEM bundle? In management, also non STEM, women are 55.2 per cent of financial managers.

    In non-STEM maths (of business), women are 60.6 per cent of accountants and auditors, 62.2 per cent of budget analysts, 54.1 per cent of credit counselors, 56.8 per cent of tax preparers, etc.

    As we dig into this, it appears there are multiple definitions of STEM. Reports Forbes in “Is Nursing A STEM Field? Even Experts Disagree” the US governmnet can’t agree on a uniform definition: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for instance, includes nursing in its list of STEM fields as, at minimum, STEM-adjacent–but the Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration does not. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) doesn’t include nursing on its list of STEM fields that make non-citizens eligible for a visa extension.

    I’ve read damn-you-STEM punditry based on studies that excluded the entire field of healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, one that includes pharmacists (63.4% female), veterinarians (71.2%), dietitians (93.1%), and registered nurses (88.6%).

    Only the gods know how much research has been done (and money spent) on “STEM’s gender inequality” that use differing definitions of STEM careers, the results of which are then published widely in newspapers. What’s the intent of all the effort and (taxpayer) money spent? Mislead people?

    I’ve written before that I’ve not a language prescriptivist, yet I think there is a bloody good reason for having standardised definitions – even the World Trade Organisation has precise definition of each and every item traded globally because it must be put on cargoes’ labels and manifests to facilitate customs clearance and tariff levying. There exists the International Standards Organisation (ISO), established to “promote the development of standardisation and related activities in the world with a view to facilitating the international exchange of goods and services, and to developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity.” It endeavours to harmonise definitions, processes, and procedures to simplify and expedite the flow of goods and information.

    When people are having numerous conversations about STEM, and they hold differing understandings of it, aren’t then words spent on the topic a waste if the definition remains up in the air? It sucks to say this, but we now seem to have regressed to a point where we must first define all our terms prior to holding conversations. I think much of the fault of this is due to many of our most educated people who have decided to play lexical tricks to further their arguments and agendas. More than 400 years ago the first dictionary of English was created, and now we’re moving to a period of confused darkness because many of our educated leaders dislike the power hierarchies they claim to see inherent in words. This is happening whilst the world is more complex than ever.

    • D-Rex says

      ga gamba, great comment, it seems that the people pushing this barrow are not really interested in true statistics but are aiming for women dominating all fields of STEM. It is the prestige that they want, not equality.

      • @D-Rex

        They are not aiming at dominating STEM, they want power and domination, full stop.

        It is political and power driven.

        George Orwell said, “socialists don’t love the poor they only hate the rich. ”

        I say, feminists don’t love women, they just hate men.

        • Bill says

          It isn’t even that “women” want power and domination, it’s the intersectionality brokers pedaling division among the electorate who want the power and domination — and some are not women. Just look at every (D) man who used the “Republican War on Women” line

    • @ ga gamba

      Welcome to the post modern world where feelings trump facts, so long as you are an approved person of an approved victim group, expressing approved feelings.

      If not, your feelings mean nothing and your facts mean less?

    • E. Olson says

      Another great comment GG. Since most social justice warriors are well-educated white women, and apparently they are unable to do the simple math presented in your comment and by the author of this interesting article, perhaps that proves that even privileged woman are bad at math?

      Your wider statistics and the see-saw example of the author also point to the wider workplace gender disparities. If men and women are approximately equally represented in the overall labor force, and men have 85+% of the jobs involving dirty, dangerous, physically heavy labor (i.e. sanitation workers, plumbers, mechanics, electricians, bricklayers, firefighters, loggers, combat military, farmers, fishermen, carpenters, metal workers, heavy equipment operators, etc.), then women statistically must be vastly over-represented in the jobs that are safe, clean, and require relatively little physical effort (i.e. teachers, nurses, office workers, child-care, retail, food-service, etc.). Notice that the list of jobs can also be classified as “essential to survival” dominated by men and “nice to have” dominated by women, and “nice to have” means that people in those jobs can easily take time off to take care of a child, or elderly parents, or simply to get away from stress, or do something “more meaningful”, which is exactly what we see in other statistics that show women are much more likely than men to prefer part-time jobs, actually choose to work fewer hours per week/year than men even in full-time jobs, and are much more likely that men to voluntarily drop out early from even high status careers (a major reason for medical doctor shortages is the rise of female doctors).

      And of course, if you are more likely to voluntarily seek part-time jobs, work fewer hours full-time, and drop out of your career early due to stress, burn-out, or a desire to do something different, you are also almost certainly not going to rise to the top of your chosen profession. Which means women will be under-represented at the top of most high status professions including ones that women dominate in school, which is exactly what feminists are all upset about. If it was all about gender equality in education and the workplace, then the feminists would be pushing for more female sewage workers, garbage collectors, farmers, and fisherpeople, but it has become very clear that pushing for such equality would not fit the life preferences of the vast, vast, vast majority of females, which would undermine support for the feminist agenda.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        All of which just demonstrates that the old notions of merit and personal choice must be abandoned. And the calculations will become so complex that only Equitron can solve them.

      • Peter from Oz says

        No, well-indoctrinated is closer to the truth.

        Evry time I speak to one of these people I am amazed at how uneducated and silly they really are. Their heads are stuffed full of arrant nonsense that has no actual basis in reality. They remind me of those medieval philosophers who could debate how many angels can sit on a pin head.

    • Chad Jessup says

      It is unfortunate there is an emphasis on equal opportunity coupled with an expectation of equal outcome. As long as the former is legally enforced throughout the educational, employment, and advancement process, who gives a sh*t about outcome.

      Given that perspective, then women’s workforce participation level is immaterial.

      My daughter-in-law has an MBA degree, was very successful at her business, then chose to stay home to raise her two children, and she is totally happy with that choice; yet, she is considered a failure by some snot-nosed white college educated females – ridiculous.

  8. Saw file says

    Very familiar with ISO. Work with it daily
    Word definitions do matter, a lot.

  9. D-Rex says

    Last year I attended a chemistry teachers workshop day at Flinder’s University SA. During a break, one of the organisers gave a plug for a new ‘women in chemistry’ group aimed at attracting more women into becoming chemistry teachers and thus addressing the gender imbalance in the field. The males, who made up roughly a quarter of those present, looked around the room in puzzlement and we all wondered if the ‘obvious’ majority of male chemistry teachers simply didn’t bother to attend what was actually a very useful event. Flinder’s also puts on girls only STEM days during the year and sends every school free posters promoting girls in engineering.
    There have been not so subtle changes to the sciences curriculum in the last few years that suggest a more humanities like approach (hard to describe actually), which could be interpreted as a ‘feminising’ but that is very much up for debate.

    • E. Olson says

      D-Rex – you wrote – “There have been not so subtle changes to the sciences curriculum in the last few years that suggest a more humanities like approach (hard to describe actually), which could be interpreted as a ‘feminising’ but that is very much up for debate.”

      Do you mean the new science where grading is no longer unfairly based on answering questions correctly, but instead on the intersectionality status of the test-taker? or the new science where study results must confirm Leftist assumptions about reality, rather than measure objective facts?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        There are no objective facts. There are only systems of oppression. Only the Warriors rise above systems of oppression, ergo only they can see reality. How many times do you have to be told?

      • D-Rex says

        Unfortunately E. it’s not as blatant as you suggest, rather it’s a move away from the classical way of doing experiments and reports to so called ‘real world applications. For example, an enzyme experiment asks the student to design an experiment to compare the efficacy of washing powders without having developed competent experimental techniques. Test questions often have an emphasis on environmental or ethical issues. At the same workshop I mentioned earlier, the keynote speaker talked at length about his love of science and of learning but lamented how 21st C science students are graduating without the basic knowledge expected i his day. Nowdays it’s all about the process, not learning facts.

    • Stephanie says

      I had a similar experience recently at a conference in Melbourne on melting of the crust and mantle. Presentations were by invitation-only, allowing some of the seminal thinkers on the subject to present a long-format talk. The organisers were clearly uncomfortable with how these seminal thinkers were men, so brought in a token female, early career researcher from the host university. Everyone else was summarising work they’d done over the course of 30 years, while she presented preliminary results from a project she had started a year ago. It was dramatically lower in quality than the rest.

      We were advertised to about two women-in-geoscience conferences. The woman advertising one of them was a professor, but had not attended any other session at the conference, she apparently just dropped by to grievance-peddle. It didn’t seem to occur to her that attending an actual conference where you could learn something useful was a better use of limited student funds.

      The most puzzling thing was that the photo they chose for conference posters was of a polar bear standing on ice. What relevance could this possibly have to melting rocks? None, obviously, it was just an attempt to remind people of melting glaciers. And then the German convener doing the land acknowledgement, claiming that “this place isn’t ours and we don’t belong here.” Go home, then??

      No escaping this madness anywhere.

      • Ray Andrews says


        It is now woke in Canada at the beginning of any sort of gathering to acknowledge that you are on the unceded territory of the […] First Nation.

  10. Angus Black says

    The fact remains that there are more men than women excelling in the hard sciences & technologies, engineering and maths. (I don’t accept that the soft, health, educational, political, social – and don’t even think of mentioning climate – “sciences” are sciences other than in name – sorry, but my argument is by analogy with “it isn’t sport if there are points for style”: if it isn’t based on empirical data, repeatability, refutation, etc (you know, the basics of science) it just isn’t science.

    The question remains: but so what?

    There would arguably be a problem if Women are exclude from the *opportunity*, or must do better than men must in order to study and excel and progress in these fields;

    But there would not, in my view, be a problem if the difference we’re explained by women being, on the average (or as a consequence of a narrower bell curve, less represented at the extremes of competence or, indeed, interest), either less interested or innately weaker in these disciplines.

    The issue is not resolved by conflating unrelated fields and showing no overall discrepancy – but by the antithesis: decomposition into components and an exploration of differences and the reasons for these differences.

    And that, I contend, is science!

    • ga gamba says

      Medicine (of the non witch doctor kind), which is a health field, isn’t science, eh?

      Fascinating. How did you conclude that?

      Though it’s true most doctors and lab techs aren’t doing research, nonetheless they completed the same rigorous courses. It wasn’t that the person did interpretive dance or films studies and then found employment as an anesthesiologist or chemist.

      The gist of your comment aligns with my thoughts, though. My dispute is there are many women (and men) performing science, tech, and maths work that are not counted in several of the narrow definitions of STEM. Clearly engineering has an employment discrepancy, which is an outcome of women not pursuing the relevant degrees and credentials, yet a large discrepancy – huge in some jobs – in favour of women exists in social science (or theories, if you prefer) and other sectors.

      I think the focus on STEM by the grievers is a way to redirect attention off of the numerous sectors women are greatly over represented. Given many think the only way to accomplish parity is by quotas, perhaps they fail to notice their enormous blind spot of women who’d be forced to shift if 50:50 (or 53:47) were to be implemented across all domains. This is why when I hear them claim they’re looking for equality for both men and women, I know it’s BS. They ought to be howling in protest about the disparities wherever they exist, which they don’t. Moreover, keeping the accusations coming maintains the illusion they’re being oppressed, which only gaslights people and causes many women who’ve been hoodwinked to feel despondent.

      And to digress, anecdotes. One of my sisters is a veterinarian. Yes, she loves animals, but her choice of this career and not another in science was due to her desire to be an owner-employer as well. Not too many doctors own their own hospitals, and those with clinics are mostly limited to out-patient procedures. Unlike my sister, they can’t they bring their children or pets to the office when necessary. At the start, establishing a practice was time consuming, but she didn’t have children then, so it was an investment of time, effort, money as well as risk she was willing and able to make. The risk she took paid off because she has a lot more work-life flexibility than others in science and medicine. And she has much more flexibility than her husband who has a conventional executive’s job of 50-70 hours per week plus international travel. My other sister is a chartered financial analyst – certainly a maths career. She works from home, again opting to have a more flexible work-life balance. I would not be surprised that many other women, those bright enough to know no one may “have it all”, also may similar choices.

      • Angus Black says

        If I had children, I’d suggest vet science to them for exactly those reasons – plus the fact that the government doesn’t interfere with your professional life as it does with so many professionals (I’m in Australia which is very considerably more nanny-State and socialist than the US, sadly).

        Having said that, I’ve got to take issue with your perspective on my definition of science,

        I don’t count the health sciences as sciences because a discipline which requires an activist splinter “evidence based medicine” clear is generally not based on the scientific method (or there’d be no need for the splinter…). Little known facts: in veterinary science at the university of Queensland, students don’t meet a single live animal during their course (are other courses different? I don’t know) – the only live animals they see are during their short practicums and are, by the nature of the practicum system, entirely unsystematically selected. In medical degrees, in Australia, anatomy has been downgraded to allow more space for bedside manner. What anatomy is studied is throug computer simulation rather than “bodies”.

        Ok, now justify health sciences for me again…

        • Peter from Oz says

          The US is far more socialistic than Oz

          • Angus Black says


            Examine the relative welfare states, the Australian Humsn Rights Commission, etc etc etc.

            The individual has far far less freedom in Australia; a worker pays way more taxes while the welfare classes in Oz (often multigenerational, now) have an open ended entitlement to benfits more than equal to a middle class lifestyle when I was a young man 30 years ago. Oz also has the highest “minimum wage” in the entire world and an absolutely baroque minimum wages and benefits system by industry class. You name the issue and Australia has found a way to regulate the agreements which may be negotiated between any two parties.

            Trust me, the US currently has no conception of how much socialism can be embedded in a nominally democratic society.

        • ga gamba says

          It’s not that you’re wrong that students aren’t working on live human bodies to start with, but there’s a good reason for that. It could be deadly. We also don’t have early engineering students building bridges and aeroplanes for public use as well as blasting tunnels. They are able to build things for their class projects because these aren’t out in the wild.

          Medical education is a longer process for this very reason. Still, students do take oral histories and perform basic examinations of living patients (or role players) under supervision. Some medical students also use animals for the practice of tumor removal, rumenotomy, and performing cardiorespiratory system examinations.

          I think computer-simulated bodies are a way for schools to overcome the shortage of cadavers – for a long time they were being imported from third-world countries such as Haiti and India. The Indian government decided to ban it, but laws are only as good as their enforcement. Further, in many countries around the world, anatomists still depend on bodies that do not originate from voluntary donations by the deceased but, rather, are unclaimed. This is an ethical concern, and some countries better adhere to ethical standard than others. Moreover, there are problems with how long cadavers may be used – you just can’t keep cutting and cutting in perpetuity. Simulations extend the “life” of a cadaver

          Of course, non-medical disciplines also use computer simulations.

          As for live animals and animal cadavers used in vet education, a search for data of the US finds the schools vary. Last year Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine defended its use of shelter animals to teach surgical and euthanasia procedures to students.

          American Veterinary Medical Association policy says “animals have an important role in research, testing and education for continued improvement of human and animal health and welfare.”

          • ga gamba says

            If I’ve grasped the trust of your objection correctly, because students aren’t working with actual bodies, live or not, they aren’t doing science. OK, let’s assume that this correct, though anatomy is only part of their studies and they complete many of the same science work non-medical science students also complete, for example chemistry and biology. What then are doctors and residents doing when they are working on live bodies? Has this shifted to science then?

          • Angus Black says

            No, you misunderstand me. I am dubious about “health science” as a science because, by and large, the basic principles of science (empirical evidence, repeatability, decomposition, theory refutation, etc etc) are downplayed. I was asked…but what about “medicine”, surely that’s science? I argued that a disciple with a minor faction who stand out for “evidence-based medicine” was strong suggestive evidence that the discipline as a whole was unscientific.

            My comments on the teaching of medicine and vet science were purely asides. I clearly disapprove of the modern approach – I’d much rather that both doctors and vets worked extensively on real subjects while under expert supervision before they worked on me or even my pets or farm animals. I have no problem with starting with simulations and then cadavers, I just don’t think that is enough. Engineers build at least scale models and work with real materials, computer scientists build or extend working systems, they do not work exclusively (or even largely) on simulations.

            In any event, the education associated with the discipline is not what makes a science. That is most concisely covered by “nullius in verba” – the call to evidence, not “expert standing”.

            Sorry if my aside clouded the issue.

  11. A human says

    Since you do not know what synaptic density indicates, I cannot find any use for your uninformed opinion. With my apologies, of course.

    • D-Rex says

      Are you talkin ta me? Are you talkin ta ME? They call me……. anyway, ahem, I know that synaptic density is a measure of processing power but so what? It could just mean that you are really good a doing complex calculations or remembering all of your friends phone numbers or being fluent in 10 different languages. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are smart.
      I would suggest that if women on average have 30% less synaptic density but at the same time have the same average intelligence as men, then the two are not necessarily related.

  12. Our grandmothers worked beside men in factories and farms to protect western civilization.

    Where are the women demanding the right to collect garbage and lay bricks ?

    Women always whinge and feminists whinge the loudest.

    • Harbinger says

      Jonathan Haidt, of Heterodox Academy fame, has an interesting aphorism which underscores your comment about incessant female whinging Anita: ” Men test ideas, and women test men…”.

    • “Where are the women demanding the right to collect garbage and lay bricks ?”

      If it is a job/career with higher injury and mortality rates, they are uniformly “man’s work” and feminists don’t actually want gender parity. “Modern” “woke” feminists no longer want gender parity (or superiority) in all walks of life; just white collar jobs that pay higher than median wage and higher pay (for women) in jobs/careers where average pay is below median wage (while also often demanding they be permitted to reduced their required ability and/or work output).

  13. Closed Range says

    Although I agree with the authors main argument here, there’s some arguments that need to be improved. In particular, the weakest part of the article is on the parts talking about X-ray machines, MRI and the dentist drill. I get that the author is trying to show how these other fields like healthcare use technology and thus should be incinciuded in the T of STEM. However the argument is very weak as clearly every activity today uses technology (eg email), but clearly not everything belongs in the T. The examples of devices given by the author are not designed by medical doctors, but rather engineers (from a mix of universities and companies.) Furthermore, these examples are also rather weak because they aren’t really specific to the field (a dentist drill is just a slightly adapted drill, X ray machines are used in other areas of science like crystallography, etc).
    Of course there is a lot of dialogue between fields, i.e. engineers asking doctors what can be improved, but a medical degree won’t teach you the skills needed to start working on the design of these pieces of technology.

    Where I think the argument can be improved is if the author can find examples of technology that were only invented after a better understanding of biology or healthcare came about, and are somewhat more subject specific. I imagine that there must be many examples of this that can be found with deeper research. This would be a good step towards showing that knowledge from the medical sciences contributes to technology and thus belong in the T.

    I’m no expert but I might suggest looking at artificial limbs that connect to the nerves in the body – it is clearly more than standard robotics because it must use certain biological knowledge. I think this would be a better point than dentist drills.

    • E. Olson says

      Good comment CR – I suspect that even in many of these “related” S and T fields that the author mentions such as the medical drills and MRI machines, you will tend to see that men heavily dominate in the R&D work and even more certainly in their installation, upkeep, and repair. After all, how often do you see a female technician coming in to fix the Xerox machine, coffee-machine, or PC network at the office?

  14. Jamie Karl says

    Any theory around ‘sexism suppressing women’, doesn’t match the data; these days young women are better educated, earn more. If such statistics were to be taken as evidence of suppression, the conclusion would be that men are being suppressed by sexism.

  15. E. Olson says

    One point not addressed in this interesting article is what are the mating prospects for all these female PhDs? Women tend to want to marry up, so what sort of person is up for a female PhD? And how many people of high educational, income, and occupational status will want to marry a 28+ year old female PhD with 10+ years of higher education indoctrination into Leftist politics and social justice, rape culture, white privilege, and male patriarchy? Would she date or marry a Trump voting Republican, even when he is richer, more educated, and higher status than she is?

    Will the newly minted female PhD accept being a trailing partner and primary child-care provider (assuming she wants children) to her higher status husband, or will she expect him to drop everything to follow her to some small college town and take care of the children while she works on another research paper to secure tenure?

    Is there a reason why Disney films never feature female PhDs?

    • K. Dershem says

      Interesting hypothesis, but it doesn’t seem to be supported by evidence. There’s a positive correlation between higher levels of education and marriage rates.

      “Does getting a postgraduate qualification have any relationship to marriage? … The education-marriage relationship appears to hold even at these higher levels, as rates of marriage amongst middle-aged women with advanced degrees are now higher than for those which just a bachelor’s degree …. Women with the most education have the most economic independence. The question is how they are choosing to use it. Rather than turning away from marriage because they can afford to, they are using this power to renegotiate the terms of marriage in a more egalitarian direction.”

      • E. Olson says

        K – so the spinster college professor stereotype is inaccurate?

      • ga gamba says

        You may want to read this one too. (PDF)

        Breaking down marriage markets by education tells a somewhat surprising story: it is the group of women who have the highest marriage rates — college-educated women — who are facing the greatest “shortage” of men. In fact, using the conventional measure of marriageability — the ratio of employed men to all women — there are only 85 men for every 100 women among 25-to 35-year-old college-educated adults. In contrast, for every employed, childless woman with a high school diploma, there are over 2.5 comparable men. These disparities are the result of women’s rising education levels. Women are now more educated than men, meaning that they will necessarily face a shortage of marriage partners with the same level of education. What we are likely to see in the future, then, is either women marrying “down” educationally, or not marrying at all.

        That said, there are some interesting developments of women marrying down or, if you prefer, men marrying up.

        Therefore, even when women “marry down” educationally, they continue to “marry up” in income.

        This suggests that a woman’s desire for a male’s education attainment may have been code for money (or financial security), though there is a strong correlation between education and income.

        I think there are many other things that need to be examined. When did a woman earn her advanced degrees? If she was already married, say after completing a bachelor’s degree, and then pursued graduate degree(s) this is quite different from a woman who remained single throughout her period of education. There of other influencers as well. For example, does the single highly educated woman also have children? And, if the phenomenon of the ticking biological clock is true, we ought examine age as well. A 28-year-old single childless female with a PhD is very different from 35-year-old single childless PhD. I’d wager if a study included a large number of non-native born males and females, say from East or South Asia who move to the West to pursue tertiary education or advanced degrees, this would affect the results as well.

        I think surveys need to be designed to capture this to better differentiate the groups.

  16. tarstarkas says

    It would help his case if he used tables that added up, and didn’t leave out information. In Table 1, the numbers of PhD degrees when added up are lower than the listed total (73025 versus 78779) and when you proportionally divide the number of PhD’s by sex using the given percentages in the table by field, and then add up the calculated totals, the overall ratio is more like 51 female versus 49 male.

    Broad Field Total F % M% F # M #

    Health Sciences 14969 70.3 29.7 10523.21 4445.793
    Engineering 9656 23.4 76.6 2259.504 7396.496
    Education 9453 68.8 31.2 6503.664 2949.336
    Social/Behavioral 9408 61.1 38.9 5748.288 3659.712
    Biological/Ag 8590 52.6 47.4 4518.340 4071.66
    Physical/Earth 5852 34.1 65.9 1995.532 3856.468
    Arts/Humanities 5528 53.2 46.8 2940.896 2587.104
    Math/Computer Sci 3353 25.1 74.9 841.603 2511.397
    Other Fields 2582 52.4 47.6 1352.968 1229.032
    Business 2324 48.9 51.1 1136.436 1187.564
    Public Admin 1310 75.6 24.4 990.36 319.64

    TOTAL 73025 51.41% 48.59% 38810.798 34214.202

    I do however agree with his overall point, in that it is wrong to use a Brezhnev doctrine (what’s mine is mine, what’s yours should be mind) on STEM fields, or any other fields for that matter. Basing enrollment, degrees, and employment based on an ever-changing ratio and kind of disadvantageness is simply nuts for the continuation of a civil society. Of course that’s not what true SJW’s are about, it’s too much my way or the highway.

  17. Serenity says

    “I fully support efforts to get more women into fields like AI, robotics, software development and chemical engineering. However, … men become an emphatic minority at university.”

    Last week I attended law school graduation ceremony. 70% graduates were women.

    “Jane Elliott, an American teacher, conducted an experiment with her students in 1968. She told them that scientists had shown that people with blue eyes were more intelligent and more likely to succeed than people with brown eyes, who were lazy and stupid. She divided her class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups, and gave the blue-eyed group extra privileges, praise and attention. The blue-eyed group quickly asserted its superiority over the brown-eyed children, treating them contemptuously, and their school performance improved. The brown-eyed group just as quickly adopted a submissive timidity, and their marks declined. After a few days, Elliot told the children she had got the information mixed up and that actually it was brown eyes that indicated superiority. The classroom situation rapidly reversed.
    We learn best in stimulating environments when we feel sure we can succeed. When feel happy or confident our brains benefit from the release of dopamine, the reward chemical, which also helps with memory, attention and problem solving. When we feel threatened, helpless and stressed, our bodies are flooded by the hormone cortisol which inhibits our thinking and memory. ”
    Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett “The Spirit Level, Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”.

    Any effort to advance one group at the expense of the other results in the discrimination on the individual level. Plus it trumps meritocracy at the expense of all of us as consumers. Would you prefer the best lawyer or a female lawyer?

    • Zay says

      It’s interesting that studies like these are only able to “socialize” these kids in the predictable direction. Can you point to a study that tells the brown eyed kids that they’re smarter and the blue eyed ones that they’re lazy and stupid? When Jane Elliot tried this reversal, it was “much less intense”.

      I’m not a cis white male btw.

      • Serenity says

        Zay and E.Olson,

        J. Eliot’s study is just a very clever way to demonstrate a pretty obvious phenomenon. Certain nurture (public opinion, peer pressure, teachers’ and parental encouragement, etc.) can overpower nature. Another example –

        “…a true story about a pair of reared-apart … identical twins separated in infancy; they grew up in different adoptive homes. One became a concert pianist, talented enough to perform as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra. The other cannot play a note.

        Since these women have the same genes, the disparity must be due to a difference in their environments. Sure enough, one of the adoptive mothers was a music teacher who gave piano lessons in her home. The parents who adopted the other twin were not musical at all.

        Only it was the non-musical parents who produced the concert pianist and piano teacher whose daughter cannot play a note…

        The piano-teacher mother offered lessons but did not insist… The non-musical mother [encouraged] insisted that her daughter take lessons and make sure she practiced. Of course, the child must have had some innate talent to begin with – not everyone with determined mother becomes a concert pianist. But without the determined mother the child’s talent would have gone to waste. The twin with wishy-washy mother cannot play a note.” Judith Rich Harris “The Nurture Assumption.”

  18. In the UK, when I looked into the employment figures claimed for STEM, I rapidly discovered that every medical field I could think of was deliberately excluded in order to ‘prove’ that women were doing worse in STEM. Prosthetics apparently isn’t an engineering discipline. Operating x-ray machines or cleaning operating theaters is apparently nothing to do with technology despite the years of training. Medical doctors don’t need any mathematics (try telling their lecturers that). Preparing medicines is nothing to do with science.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, when we put the medical field back into place we see that women are actually dominating in STEM.

    William Collins, possibly the most incisive men’s issues blogger in the world, has written about this situation, putting another M on the end to make it clear that the dialog on STEMM is – once again – a load of feminist hogwash.

  19. david of Kirkland says

    You guys are nuts. Clearly, all females are identical to each other, and all males are identical to each other. That’s why it matters so much what pile I put those people in.

  20. A human says

    Another thing that many here are confused about is the false equivalence “average female IQ is about the same as male” => “an average female is as smart as an average male”. For your information, the IQ test questions are specifically normalized in such a way so as to yield roughly same average IQ for males and females (see, for example, Halpern et al (2007)). Therefore, it is useless to compare male and female brain capabilities in STEM disciplines by comparing the average IQ. One needs to use tests specifically tailored to typical STEM tasks to draw reliable conclusions.

    • Foyle says

      Humans are sexually dimorphic, historically males had far lower chance of breeding than women due to harsher competition that favoured a higher genetic variability in brains. 3 year old boys on average have brains as large as an adult woman. Brains are very expensive in energy/evolutionary terms, so that extra capacity has to be there to confer some (on average) advantage. A result of this evolutionary competitive pressure is that male and female intelligence medians and variance are different.

      SAT is a good proxy for IQ. Male female median gap for Math is consistently about 30 points, that corresponds to about 3 IQ points. Verbal gap close to zero. Male dominate at the top end perfect scores >145IQ about 2:1 as with all other intelligence testing. That difference is the payoff for increased variability and larger brain size pushed by evolution.

      • A human says

        @Foyle this is what GMVH roughly states, too. Excessive variability is “unsafe” for females, since every healthy female is important for the whole population to procreate successfully. On the other hand, males are “less important”, in the sense that a single genetically successful male can fertilize multiple females to produce fitter offspring. So, it is more beneficial from the evolutionary perspective to have statistically more “well rounded” females, and at the same time statistically more “diverse” males. Thus, the males are genetically predisposed to be more variable as a result of lengthy and rigorous mutation/selection process across multiple populations. That is the hypothesis, at least.

  21. seanmaroni says

    The question this article leaves me with is the degree to which socialization feeds into sea saw preference choice. Though – even if socialization characterizes a plurality of the cause for the hard / soft disparity, we should still be slow to intervene.

  22. Didn’t all this discussion originate with the wage gap issue? If so, I wonder about math. Is it a high paying field compared to, say medicine? Also engineering, compared to medicine or clinical psychology? Has the debate over STEM — however defined — forgotten about why it started, and what it is about?

  23. Peter Schaeffer says

    “A human” has already made most of this point… I wrote the following some time ago.

    The answers here show a significant ignorance of what IQ means. It is simply not true that men and women have equal mean IQs. That is not to say that men are smarter than women, or women are smarter than men. In real life the tests are structured to give equal mean IQs for men and women. In other words, equal male and female IQs are an artifact of the tests, not a reality in the world.

    The truth is the male and female IQs are different. Men score high(er) in mathematical ability. Women score high(er) in language/verbal ability. If an IQ test is comprised of only math related questions, men will appear to have higher IQs. If a test is comprised of only language/verbal questions, women will appear to have higher IQs.

    Note that there is also some ethnic variation in this. Jews score quite high on IQ tests, but more on the language/verbal side. East Asians are the reverse. They tend to score higher on the math side, even after living several generations in the West.

    There is an evolutionary explanation of why women would be weighted towards language/verbal skills and men towards visual-spatial reasoning. The evolutionary explanation can not easily proven or dis-proven.

    • Peter Kriens says

      Interestingly in the SAT men score much higher on math with more than 30 pts, but also a bit better on reading with 1-2 pts historically. Women score 8-9 pts better in the recently introduced writing.

  24. Rabbit The Great says

    ” there is no evidence that nurses and primary school teachers are secretly frustrated roboticists or chemical engineers ”


  25. Bill says

    As a father of two young daughters, let me just leave this here. I have made every “STEM” related toy and option available to my girls. At age 8, I walked them through how to write code. Guess what, they could do it! Yes, that’s right…nothing stopped them from doing it, no deficiency in brain or synapses. Of course, immediately after doing it, they went “that’s need, but this is boring, i’d rather go play with so and so” and they left the screen. Got them chemistry sets, engineering kits, electronics, physics with lasers….”yeah, this is fun… but i’d rather go ….” It just isn’t as interesting to them as it was to the neighbor’s boy who would sit there for hours playing with the same stuff.

    You can’t force them to do things/study things/make careers of activities they find boring.

  26. Bill says

    And the studies that purport an anti-women bias in comp sci use cloud sourced projects. Working in IT what i’ve found is that the anti-women bias in coding, in particular, is there. It is NOT; however, the US males doing it. Other cultures do not recognize the equality of women and in an internet world you don’t have a clean dataset. It’s the fallacy of big data for many companies. The negative reaction to “code from women” is often offshore commentors or contributors. I had H1B programmers under me who constantly spoke down about code quality of women on the team (also H1B, same country of origin). The women actually coded better but it was against their cultural norms to accept that. But, we’ll just blame that on Republicans or “US toxic masculinity” when the dataset is corrupted by so much bad data as to make that conclusion laughable.

  27. Peter from Oz says

    The first big lie is that any group of people are put off doing something they really want to do because of some kind of bigotry.
    The second big lie is that somehow it really matters how many members of any group are in any occupation or profession.

  28. David Taylor, MD, PhD says

    Apologies if the point has been made already, but Mr Welsh focuses on the production of PhDs, while the current concerns about gender bias in STEM focus on employment. There are even experimental tests of bias in such cases: in at least a couple of studies, sets of identical CVs are submitted for postdocs in STEM fields (I know of 2 such studies of biology labs), one set with male names, the identical set with female names, and the men get follow-ups at about twice the rate of women. (It’s worse if the name on the CV is a stereotypical Black name.) We can debate the reasons why women might be underrepresented in fields (i.e. are employed at rates significantly below the level of production of PhDs), but Mr. Welsh’s essay doesn’t really address those more relevant issues.

      • Bill says

        Same exists in industry. Companies with males higher up tend to overly promote males. Companies with females higher up tend to overly promote females. Overly in this case is with respect to demographic mix. The reason is the friend concept. If you have 2 people of equal qualifications and you are friends with one and not the other, you tend to hire the friend. We socialize with same gender more often because…tada…there are differences in what men and women prefer to do outside of work.

      • David Taylor, MD, PhD says

        Thanks for the link! That’s an interesting study. I am surprised that Mr. Welsh didn’t cite it.

    • Peter Schaeffer says

      There is a considerable literature on this subject, and you are getting it entirely wrong. Recent studies have shown a consistent pro-female, anti-male bias. See

      “National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track” ( Quote

      “The underrepresentation of women in academic science is typically attributed, both in scientific literature and in the media, to sexist hiring. Here we report five hiring experiments in which faculty evaluated hypothetical female and male applicants, using systematically varied profiles disguising identical scholarship, for assistant professorships in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Comparing different lifestyles revealed that women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers and that men preferred mothers who took parental leaves to mothers who did not. Our findings, supported by real-world academic hiring data, suggest advantages for women launching academic science careers.”

      This is the study Miguel T. links to.

      • David Taylor, MD, PhD says

        Peter: thanks for alerting me to this interesting study. It certainly contradicts the work I’ve seen, and appears to be a larger study with greater validity. I’m surprised that Mr. Welsh didn’t cite it. Cordially, Dave Taylor

  29. Jerome Barry says

    Sean’s “original contribution to knowledge” needs to be stronger than “The See Saw Principle”.

    “Warped and gerrymandered” statistics in service of victims of patriarchy is allowed. Not only is it allowed, it’s their intellectual foundation.

  30. Joe says

    I have often represented that STEM should be better named STEMM, adding an extra M for medicine. The practice of medicine, like engineering, is an applied science and deserves its own letter outside the narrow use of the “S”.

    I have no problem that the vast majority of engineers are men. Men tend to be better at it. I have no problem that the vast majority of nurses are women. Women tend to be better at it. I know quite a few married couples of engineer husband and nurse wife, and this combination seems to do particularly well together.

    Don’t push people to do what they are not naturally good at or who do not naturally have an interest in the field.

  31. Francisco d'Anconio says

    Sean, I appreciate the 34 paragraphs and 3 charts. However, you could have saved yourself a lot of work. Your bio uses the pronoun “he” and “him”, so the cat is out of the bag. Secondly, it says you were a software developer for 17 years, which suggests you are white, since such jobs are denied are systematically denied to people of color ( except Asians). So, the white cat is out of the bag. Therefore, I reject your arguments on their face because they have come from a member of the white, male patriarchy and come from a place of hatred, oppression, and anger. Of course, this all means violence, and I oppose all violence directed at my side. If I see you, I will personally beat the crap out of you to show my total commitment to peace.

  32. TheSnark says

    I will gladly support quotas for women in STEM PhDs and jobs, with the goal of 50% going to women, on the same day that we institute quotas to ensure that the prison population is 50% female.

  33. R Henry says

    I find the whole controversy about females in STEM to be nothing but another Progressive trope designed to disrupt society.

    If one group is over represented in one field of work, who cares? Such over-representation does NOT indicate any sort of systemic discrimination or bigotry. Instead, it likely indicates that certain fields are more attractive to some demographic groups than others.

    What is most frustrating about this is the fact that the controversy is established by one of the most ancient and common logical fallacies–the confusion between correlation and causation.

  34. V 2.0 says

    Do laws exist to prevent women from:
    1. Holding any job they may want and are qualified for?
    2. Keeping the money they earn?
    3. Walking around in public wearing shorts and feeling the wind in their hair?

    If not, can we please stop over thinking this and just let things work themselves out?

  35. Frog8bug says

    “One example I like to reference, if only because it gets to the heart of the matter, is the well-known differences in auto-insurance rates that exists between teenage girls and teenage boys with the latter having considerably higher premiums … flagrant discriminatory practices”

    An insurance company will use all available data that correlate with risk in setting rates, so long as doing so is not prohibited by law. Or unless the “insurance company” is government, of course. Any insurance company which does not do so would be at a competitive disadvantage, as those that over-price risk will lose customers and those that under-price risk will lose money. Thus car insurance rates often vary not only by sex but by zipcode. Which may reflect that some places are a more accident-prone driving environment but also correlate with race and ethnicity.

    It’s hardly a secret that lifespan correlates with sex (women live longer) and also with race. Insurance companies are prohibited from using race when setting rates for life insurance, but they can and do charge men more for life insurance.

    Whereas the U.S. government does not adjust Social Security payments by race or sex, even though the consequence is that black men (who tend to die earlier) thereby subsidize white women (who tend to live longer.

    Young people (in the aggregate) have been more concerned about fairness and social justice than their elders, but their outrage also tends to stacked in favor of those who have been disadvantaged by discrimination in the past. Thus leading to a perception of “equal protection” in which some are seen as more deserving of protection than others.

  36. Matt says

    Why is neuroscience a soft science? Also, there are a lot of proofreading errors. Like oxytoxin? I assume oxytocin is meant.

  37. INH5 says

    I agree with the general thesis, but I disagree with the use of the people/things dichotomy here. If you look at majors in more detail, a lot of them don’t fit unless you’re willing to ram a lot of round pegs into a lot of square holes.

    Let’s start with Physical Sciences. Phds in “Geology/earth science, general,” the literal study of rocks, are 44% female. “Astronomy,” “Atmospheric sciences and meteorology, general,” and “Chemistry, general,” all as impersonal as you can possibly get, are all around 37% female. In fact, the low female representation in Physical Sciences seems to be mostly driven by “Physics, general.” Take that out and the category as a whole becomes ~37% female.

    Of Biology, you wrote, “Animals and plants are like people in that they are living but, while animate, they are not people.” But it’s not just categories like “Zoology/animal biology” that have female parity or majority, but also categories such as “Biochemistry,” “Molecular biology,” “Cell/cellular and molecular biology,” “Microbiology, general,” and “Genetics, general.” So it seems that women and men remain equally interested in biology when you get down to the cellular, genetic, or even molecular level. This is very hard to fit into any clear people/things dichotomy. Are women empathizing with bacteria cultures and enzymes?

    Even looking at social sciences, there are some pretty strange patterns. Psychology Phds are 70% female, but Anthropology Phds just 58%, the same as molecular biology. My impression is that Anthropology is if anything “softer” than Psychology, so what’s going on there?

    Finally, this field doesn’t have any Phds but I think it’s still worth mentioning: Forensic Science Bachelor’s Degrees are 73% female and Master’s Degrees are a staggering 81% female. Contrary to what you may have seen on TV, forensic scientists basically never interview suspects or witnesses in reality, so unless you’re willing to consider dead bodies as people, this should clearly be a heavily thing-focused field. And yet the gender balance is the opposite of what the people/things theory would predict.

  38. Leftists use stats to troll says

    The leftists only use stats for you to lose time debunking them!

    I am a male librarian, and while my profession is one were the sex ratio is the most in favor of women, where the ‘sterotyped’ librarian is a lady, where most top directors are ladies, where guys fail the competitive entrance interview way much more than ladies, the narrative remains unchanged: female librarians are oppressed by the patriarchy, the very same patriarchy that was mean enough to leave a nearly all-male job not so long ago to them. It would be hilarious if it was not terrible.

  39. Jon Salmi says

    Take a look at Finland, the least sexist country around. In Finland there are far more female doctors and far more male engineers. They have self-selected that way. Who cares what the balance is as long as everyone is free to choose.

    • Aerth says

      Leftists does not care about balance, they care about power and nothing else. STEM is “cool kids” club now and Leftists can’t live with the fact they are not fully controlling it.

  40. Aerth says

    It is baffling that in 2019 you need to state such obvious things like impossibility to spread limited group over several already populated areas in a way that allows this group to hold majority everywhere.

  41. “Given the definition, the statistic is valid but I have yet to see a compelling argument that explains why having only 27 percent women in STEM PhDs is a “problem” and having “only” 24.4 percent men in public administration and services PhDs and “only” 29.7 percent of men in health sciences PhDs is not. ”

    That’s called ‘the money shot’….why indeed.

    Great article thx.

  42. “Given the definition, the statistic is valid but I have yet to see a compelling argument that explains why having only 27 percent women in STEM PhDs is a “problem” and having “only” 24.4 percent men in public administration and services PhDs and “only” 29.7 percent of men in health sciences PhDs is not. ”

    That’s called the money shot….why indeed.

    Great article, thx.

  43. John Suffrin says

    Good article and high quality discussion in the comments as usual.

    Just one thing I’d like to point out. The article is explicitly and exclusively about differences between the sexes, and I don’t find it particularly helpful that some commenters moved so quickly from sex differences to race differences. Seems to me that the conversation begun by the article is clearly worth having, since all of humanity (aside from a tiny minority. Not going there right now) is either male or female and some of the differences are really quite pronounced. This is the case across all races.

    I think sex differences and race differences are two entirely separate issues and should not usually be conflated.

  44. El Conquistador says

    Sorry if others have pointed this out…I did not read all 150 comments thus far, so here goes:
    1. If the name of a university department contains the word “science”, there’s probably not much science going on.
    2. If the number of women working in the hard sciences is about 1/3 that of men, seems to me the first question should be “is there a problem?” Are there women who’d like to be working in such fields but were prevented either by discrimination in education or in hiring/promotion? 50 years ago, rampant, probably universal. Now, much less of a problem, but not zero. So, we really should address “where are we?” with respect to discrimination. And don’t do this with statistics like in this article. I do not expect parity in vocations that disproportionately attract one gender or the other since the “mustache twirling feminists” (thanks to the commenter who provided that!) have not yet destroyed maleness, masculinity as a virtue, etc.
    3. Ditto the comment immediately above (John Suffrin, March 8, 2019).

  45. Good article, but you didn’t need to provide your own a priori classification of “people” vs “things” fields in table 3. There’s already a paper (Su and Rounds, 2015) which examines this empirically in great depth, with over 400,000 respondents in their analysis, and they find significant variance in People-Things orientation within STEM fields, with the gender composition of STEM fields reflecting these differences.

  46. Joseph Decreux says

    “This is done by not excluding health sciences, social and behavioural sciences”

    So if we refer to “disciplines” that are not science as “science”, everything works out.

  47. Mike Punter says

    I am compelled to ask the question. Exactly who decided on this narrow definition of the S and T of STEM?

    The cynic in me, without reference to anything other than my years at University and the workforce in the T area, informs me that the definition was chosen for the very purpose that this article addresses.

    The entire STEM debate is precisely about promotion of positive discrimination towards women (not sure what word to use here – and it should come as no surprise that the definitions magically support the narrative that there are too few women ibid. in the STEM fields in toto.

    Cynicism is an excellent filter through which to view identity politics 😉

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