Hypothesis, recent, Science

Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics?

Six months ago CERN hosted a workshop on “High Energy Theory and Gender.” Nearly all the contributors to this and previous workshops on the same topic endorsed the view that gender imbalances in physics, particularly in the higher echelons, are predominantly due to sexual discrimination. The following phrases appeared in the presentations: “men mobilize their masculinity supporting…men in ways that advance careers,” “evaluators tend to favor men,” “scientific quality is a gender social construction,” “practically all women share the same kind of sad and unfair experiences since the beginning of their scientific career,” and physics is an “oppressive ambient.” One attendee claimed that only the military has a higher rate of sexual harassment, although she didn’t say which country’s armed forces she was thinking of.

In an attempt to go beyond mere anecdotes and measure the amount of discrimination, I did a bibliometric analysis using a public database of publications, references, authors and hiring decisions in fundamental physics world-wide over the past 50 years. CERN maintains this database, but nobody had used it for this purpose before. Certainly, none of the hosts of the “High Energy Theory and Gender” workshop had used it to test their claims.

The results that came out of this study did not fit the discrimination narrative. With colleagues, I spent the summer checking the data and exploring ways to present them at the workshop that wouldn’t harm our careers. We joked among ourselves about what would happen to the person giving the presentation, having discovered the fate of other scientists who made similar points. Our findings were scientifically robust, but nobody in our little group wanted to present them. In the end, I decided that I had the least to lose.

So I presented the results, discussed them with colleagues at CERN and tried to convey as sincerely as I could that the final sentence of my talk—“hope to see you again”—was not supposed to be ironic. As predicted, a storm was quickly whipped up on Twitter and elsewhere, misinterpreting my views and even inventing some statements and attributing them to me. CERN issued a press release according to which “everyone is welcome…regardless of…beliefs” and suspended me while investigating whether my 30-minute talk had violated internal rules, such as the “obligation to exercise reserve and tact,” “reserve in expressing personal opinions” and “communications to the public.”

I find it alarming that a scientific organization has rules that restrict free speech using such vague, subjective language. After five months, CERN concluded that it would “not pursue disciplinary proceedings”—to be clear, I have not been charged with violating any of the rules. Despite this, CERN removed all traces of my talk from its website, declaring it “offensive.” As Ben Shapiro says, “facts don’t care about your feelings,” and the claim to be offended is often used by political activists to silence people who don’t subscribe to their views. At some point, CERN removed my name from a physics workshop without telling me and I had to ask to leave.

Daniel Harlow, a physicist at MIT, and some other American academics, have been clamoring for me to be punished on a website/petition called Particles for Justice ever since I gave my talk. Two physicists independently reviewed “Particles for Justice” and discovered what they felt were “unethical misrepresentation,” “misleading citations,” “poor analysis,” and “unscientific attitudes.” They concluded that the “outrage” of the site’s creators and signatories was “misplaced and unsupported by the data they themselves cite.” Particles for Justice also contains personal attacks on me that aren’t supported by the facts. I ignored it until CERN put out a new press release on March 8, announcing that I’d left the organization. A new wave of attacks followed and I decided to put up the slides I’d presented at the talk, as well as an audio recording of the whole thing, on this web site.

I was told that I had grounds for more than one defamation suit, but decided not to sue. I complained to CERN that some personal attacks on me were made by people who included their CERN affiliation after their names and I’m waiting to see whether CERN applies the same rule to them as it did to me. So far, it hasn’t responded.

Data

Bibliometrics is the statistical analysis of scientific papers and their authors. Physicists start writing papers when completing their Ph.D.s and it is at this stage in their academic careers that the first gender differences crop up, known as the “representation gap”: there are roughly four male authors for every female. However, the ratio of male-to-female physicists is not the same in all countries, and it is not positively correlated in each country with that country’s ranking in the Global Gender Gap Index. For example, the percentage of women in theoretical physics and STEM is lower in Europe and the U.S. than it is in India or Iran. This suggests that gender imbalances in physics aren’t caused by gender inequality—if they were, you’d expect them to be higher in less equal countries.

Using citations, it’s possible to build bibliometric indices of scientific merit. The number of (fractionally counted) citations received by authors provides a reasonable indicator of their scientific merit. Data show that, at the moment they’re hired in research or academic posts, female physicists have on average fewer (fractionally counted) papers and citations than their male equivalents. As the careers of physicists progress, the initial representation gap doesn’t change much, and a second difference known as the “productivity gap” appears. This was confirmed by my data. The picture above persists after controlling for confounders, such as the higher average age of male authors.

Some colleagues don’t set much store by bibliometrics and it’s certainly a tool that needs to be used with caution. But the reason it’s used by professional evaluation agencies is because it works. Most of my results, which suggest that sexual discrimination isn’t the cause of the under-representation of women in physics, are consistent with what other experts have found about STEM fields more generally. A recent review summarizes these findings: “The overall picture is one of gender neutrality in GEEMP fields [P is physics], notwithstanding frequent claims to the contrary.”1

Interpretation

Based on the data we found and on previous literature in this field, gender differences in representation and productivity can be interpreted in terms of two main causal factors:

  • Gender differences in interests;
  • Higher male variability (HMV).

Needless to say, “for every complex natural phenomenon there is a simple, elegant, compelling, wrong explanation” (Thomas Gold) and when dealing with complex systems any simple explanation can easily be inadequate, including explanations that attribute gender disparities exclusively to sexual discrimination. But I believe the data can be explained without invoking sexual discrimination and by focusing instead on the two factors above. Gina Rippon, e.g. in her recent book The Gendered Brain (2019), questions the scientific basis of these factors—which are sometimes dismissed as “neurosexism” and “neurotrash”—but the evidence is quite compelling.

Concerning (1), a meta-review of the scientific literature summarizes the position as follows: “Gender differences in interest and enjoyment of math, coding, and highly systemizing activities are large. The difference on traits related to preferences for ‘people vs. things’ is found consistently and is very large.”2 This difference in interests is consistent with gender differences in preferred academic fields (fig.1 shows the situation in Italy) as well as with gender differences in specializations inside physics, other sciences, the humanities and medicine: the percentage of women is lowest in theoretical physics, philosophy, orthopedic surgery, etc. Students in physics world-wide (both undergraduates and graduates) are roughly 70 percent male—and this doesn’t appear to be due to discrimination. Physics departments are equally open to everybody: men are not offered limousine rides to the department and women don’t need to wear moustaches to get through the door. On the contrary, many departments work hard to attract more female students. However, women are less likely to choose physics in countries with higher levels of gender equality3 and gender differences in interests is most pronounced in Scandinavian countries, where more work has been done than anywhere else in the world to level the playing field between men and women.4 Indeed, some scientific findings suggest average differences in male-female preferences have an innate component. No room to discuss that here, but the work of Simon Baron-Cohen and others suggests that’s true of the “systematizing-empathizing” difference.

Concerning (2), the Higher Male Variability (HMV) hypothesis was first put forward by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man (1871), along with several other ideas now deemed “offensive.” Psychometric tests indicate that men and women perform, on average, equally well when it comes to different cognitive skills, but men are more common at both the low and the high ends of the distributions. So there’s greater variability among men when it comes to these traits than women. The relevance of HMV for physics and STEM has been discussed by, among others, the former Harvard theorist Lubos Motl, the former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, and by the former Google engineer James Damore. They were all attacked on political grounds, not primarily on scientific grounds. Indeed, in the polemics that followed most experts confirmed the HMV hypothesis, with different groups of scientists reaching the following conclusions: “Males are more variable on most measures of quantitative and visuospatial ability, which necessarily results in more males at both high- and low-ability extremes”;5 “Substantial evidence suggests that the male advantage in mathematics is largest at the upper end of the ability distribution”;6 “On average, male variability is greater than female variability on a variety of measures of cognitive ability, personality traits, and interests. This means men are more likely to be found at both the low and high end of these distributions”7; “Based on the meta-analyses we reviewed and the research on the Greater Male Variability hypothesis, Damore is correct that there are population level differences in distributions of traits that are likely to be relevant for understanding gender gaps at Google.”8 HMV contributes significantly to the representation gap only among those rare authors that produce groundbreaking work in physics.

Experts like these were not invited to the CERN workshop, so it fell to me to bring up their results. My paper with details of my analysis was rejected by arXiv.org, an open access platform, on the basis that it hadn’t been published yet. But arXiv.org is a pre-print bulletin and accepts other pre-prints, including those with politically correct but scientifically incorrect claims about gender. As an alternative, I put my paper online so that those interested could evaluate its correctness in a scientific way.9 I note that the mathematician Prof. Theodore Hill experienced unusual difficulty getting a paper on the HMV published.

CERN and arXiv.org are respected scientific institutions, but hiding “offensive” results is not a particularly scientific approach. Had I falsified the data to show that women are being discriminated against in physics, I have no doubt I would not have got into trouble—and arXiv.org wouldn’t have objected to me putting the paper on its platform.

We Have a Problem

Why are experts on gender differences in STEM not invited to conferences about gender in physics? Why are activists who claim to be advancing the cause of women in STEM falsely portraying the fields as being riddled with discrimination, including widespread sexual harassment, when that’s unlikely to attract more women? Why are scientific findings like the ones made by my colleagues and me described as “discredited” while academic journals in gender studies publish Sokal-like hoaxes? Why do some academics want to forbid scientific research on cognitive differences?10 Why has talking about these topics become so dangerous?

The answer, I think, is the one I put forward in my talk when I anticipated it would get me into trouble. Proposing that some gender imbalances in fields like physics might not be due to discrimination is like being a social scientist in the Soviet Union and proposing that some class differences aren’t due to discrimination. Indeed, in the present cultural and political climate, the shibboleths of identity politics have made certain things unsayable. An ideology that reduces everything to a power struggle between different identity groups is producing needless fragmentation and hostility. Reason and objectivity, once the bedrock of science, are frequently dismissed as tools of systemic oppression.11 Science that contradicts the dominant political narrative is attacked, particularly anything relating to gender. Scientific data about gender, like the ones I found, are deemed to be “offensive” when they challenge beliefs that are held as sacred. I used to hold these beliefs myself and when Larry Summers lost his job at Harvard I was pleased. But the data have forced me to change my mind. Surely, that’s what a good scientist should do?

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, some people, even scientists, cling on to a worldview that makes its adherents feel morally superior. It’s the same mistake the Church made centuries ago, when Enlightenment thinkers cast doubt on sacred religious beliefs. In the past decades many social barriers have been removed: some differences that clearly were due to discriminations have disappeared, while others remain. Attempts to attribute the remaining differences to sexual discrimination lead to the invention of dubious concepts such as invisible unconscious biases, micro-aggressions, nano-aggressions, pico-aggressions, etc. Academia should be a place where difficult topics are meaningfully debated, but scientific research on group psychological differences is now dismissed and attacked12 by those who are determined to defend their ideological positions. But the more that heterodox thinkers are ostracized in academia, the more credibility it will lose.

Many academics embrace the politics of Social Justice, believing it will help the vulnerable rather than create more problems. Diversocrats claims that all cultures are good and attack as “oppressive” the Western culture that ended slavery, introduced universal suffrage, significantly reduced extreme poverty around the world, etc. They don’t want equal opportunities but equal outcomes, which mean positive discrimination based on arbitrary physical characteristic that make those groups they designate as victims more equal than others.

As before in our history, those who claim to be fighting against oppression have become the new oppressors. Some people think that research about group differences is bad because “race science” led to concentration camps; but the Blank Slate point of view (there is no such thing as human nature, all differences are socially constructed, etc.) led to re-education gulags in the Soviet Union and China. Extremism of all kinds leads to human misery. As Solzhenitsyn said, “[I]deology, that is what gives evil-doing its long-sought justification.”

STEM Under Attack

Many colleagues privately consider the Social Justice cultists as minor irritants who should be appeased to avoid trouble. They suggest avoiding sensitive topics and “unethical” scientific research (e.g. those areas likely to produce findings that conflict with social constructivist dogma). While I understand and share their desire to sidestep political conflict, I fear that political activists will not avoid them. This ideology cannot be appeased; its most fanatical adherents claim that science itself is “unethical” because it leads to hierarchies based on competence. This is not a problem that disappears if you ignore it.

The present situation in some U.S. universities has been described by Heather Mac Donald as an unstable cohabitation between “a still serious system centered on the sciences” and an “unserious institution dedicated to the all-consuming crusade against phantom racism and sexism” and she has warned that “STEM fields are under attack.”13 Jordan Peterson confirms this: “STEM disciplines are the next logical attack point.”

The attack on the hard sciences follows the identity politics playbook: STEM is declared to be “hostile ambient” because its demographics differ from table football (equal rigid rows of blue and pink). There are fewer women, so the only explanation must be sexual discrimination. Being apolitical is no longer enough; scientists who apply to many North American universities must now sign “diversity statements,” proclaiming their allegiance to Social Justice ideology. I am in favor of equal opportunities, so in the multiple-choice section designed to weed out racists and sexists I would write that “the most qualified person should get the job,” regardless of his/her gender, race, political orientation, etc. The wrong answer, obviously. Saying that is a “micro-aggression,” apparently.

To get a job, you now have to believe in equality of outcome. If male physicists are more cited than female physicists it must be because physicists are afflicted by “unconscious gender bias” as measured by the Implicit Association Test. CERN hosted a seminar about this, and nobody bothered to ask: Is there evidence that the IAT measures unconscious bias? Is there evidence that unconscious bias is one of the causes of gender gaps in STEM? Empirical science (the best method to avoid falling victim to biases) has no role to play in these debates, even though they are about scientists. It’s as if astrophysicists are being asked to justify themselves to astrologists.

What Can Be Done?

Maybe an institution that welcomes diverse viewpoints can host a workshop about the under-representation of women in STEM where genuine experts are invited and allowed to debate freely with activists. But I’m not optimistic. Some colleagues who wrote to me to express their solidarity dared not sign their names. The physicists who criticized “Particles for Justice” have chosen to remain anonymous for fear of losing their livelihoods. Other colleagues worry that they are not close enough to retirement age to risk speaking out. During a recent seminar about gender and STEM at Sydney University, somebody stressed the relevance of individual scientific quality when it comes to hiring decisions, but did so in an anonymous paper. Critics of gender politics in science are increasingly hiding behind the cloak of anonymity to avoid career repercussions. Now, thankfully, those few professors who have dared to take a stand—Jordan Peterson, Janice Fiamengo, Gad Saad, and a handful of others, as well as a few courageous journalists—are receiving an encouraging level of attention. My expectation is that this political movement will fade away in a decade or so. We can only hope.

 

Alessandro Strumia is a theoretical physicist at the University of Pisa and a former guest professor at CERN.

References

1 S.J. Ceci, D.K. Ginther, S. Kahn, W.M. Williams, “Women in academic science: A changing landscape”, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 15 (2014) 75.
2 R. Su, J. Rounds, P.I. Armstrong, “Men and things, women and people: A meta-analysis of sex differences in interests”, Psychol. Bull. 135 (2009) 859.  See also S. Pinker, “The Science of Gender and Science”, talk at Harvard on 22/4/2005.
3 G. Stoet, D.C. Geary, “The Gender-Equality Paradox in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education”, Psychological Science 29 (2018) 581.
4 See e.g. M.E. Giolla, P.J. Kajonius. “Sex differences in personality are larger in gender equal countries: Replicating and extending a surprising finding”, Int. J. Phychol (2018).  A. Falk, J. Hermle, “Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality”, Science 19 (2018). 
5 D.F. Halpern, C.P. Benbow, D.C. Geary, R.C. Gur, J.S. Hyde, M.A. Gernsbacher, “The science of sex differences in science and mathematics”, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 8 (2007) 1.
6 Ibid.
7 S. Stevens, J. Haidt, “The Google Memo: What Does the Research Say About Gender Differences?”, Heterodox Academy.
8 Ibid.
9 A. Strumia, “Biblio-metric analysis of gender issues in fundamental physics”. Some results have been reproduced by others.
S. Hossenfelder, “Do women get fewer citations than men?”, talk at Chapman University, 2018/11/29.  
10 N. Carl, “ How Stifling Debate Around Race, Genes and IQ Can Do Harm”, Evol. Psy. Science 4 (2018) 339.  N. Carl was attacked for trying to debate the issue.
11 S.R.C. Hicks, “Explaining post-modernism”.
12 N. Carl, “        How Stifling Debate Around Race, Genes and IQ Can Do Harm”, Evol. Psy. Science 4 (2018) 339.  N. Carl was attacked for trying to debate the issue.
13 H. Mac Donald, “The diversity delusion”; “How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences”. 

 

197 Comments

  1. dirk says

    All men are created equal, of course, but does that also mean that men and women have exactly the same type and structure of brains and neuron network connections, needed for all different types of science , math and technology? I wonder.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Blasphemer! To the reeducation camp you must go!

      The problem is the SJWarriors in the pursuit of total power have intentionally conflated equal rights with equality, both physically and politically. That is the reason behind the push for calling biology a social construct, reparations, and every other social leveling scheme being proposed. In the end their goal is a society where everyone is completely and absolutely ‘equal’ except for the rulers, who are more than equal.

      • Shawn says

        I wonder if there are studies of the y chromosome and this hmv. It seems a probable hypothesis that the a decreased protection to mutation may cause some of this variability.

    • Alan Appel says

      Dirk, why are you conflating political statements (“all men…”) with biological statements (“structure of brains…”)?

      • dirk says

        Of course, Alan, I know about the critical separation of religion and state policy, but is there also something like separation of biology and human policy? Is policy not always dependent on human biology?? I wonder ? Of course, it’s always debatable what is biology, and what culture, and where policy comes forth! I fear that, in human biology and anthropology, there is no more science to speak of, it’s all policy now, there is no other way! At least, for the time being!

  2. Andreas K. says

    Honestly, I don’t feel any sense of common identity or brotherhood with complete strangers, just because they’re men, anywhere near enough for a preponderance of penises in physics to make me feel represented there. If a physicist shares my family ethnicity or culture, sure, that’s something I can work with; I’ll feel a kind of kinship despite him being a stranger, because we kinda branch off from the same story. But just because he is male? What’s that to me? My neighbors are male, I don’t relate to them at all except insofar as their music keeps me up at night. I guess I just won’t ever understand this kind of gender parity thing.

    • Today’s left has changed the definition of those words to suit their purposes. I’ve hard to slowly talk my wife down from that view. She used to hold that one job was “sexist” to her because all the boys used to get together after work to watch football, and since she didn’t like football, she never got in on the club and thus was less likely to get promotions and so on.

      But in fact, this had nothing to do with her being a girl, as she readily admits both that she could have faked interest as they were totally welcoming anytime she dropped by, AND that there was another girl there who did like football and did participate so that girl got promoted. Yet she held that this was “sexist” … because it disadvantaged a women (her). This is how the left uses that language… even when something isn’t actually sexist (like say, a natural disaster) you can still call it sexist if it affects a protected class disproportionately (human race killed by giant asteroid… women and children reportedly most affected).

      For the clincher, I then asked if there were other men in the office who didn’t enjoy sports and also failed to get promoted. She hadn’t thought of this. And her immediate reaction was to say that these (presumably white) men didn’t count anyway. Then… slowly… it dawned on her. Her feminism put more importance on the views of women than men, and that’s sexist.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @kevinjdildonik

        Feminism doesn’t seem to acknowledge the existence of socially awkward, introverted, and insecure men who are unable to participate in the “boys club”, and confident, sociable, and extroverted women who can. “Impostor syndrome” is most always presented as a women’s issue, when in fact there are a great number of men who suffer from it as well.

  3. bumble bee says

    Well let’s face the fact that STEM careers are highly competitive. They only want what they consider is the best and brightest. Everyone else who has been educated in undergraduate STEM fields and have those degrees have fewer opportunities to choose what they do. If you want to succeed in those fields you need a graduate degree and usually that must be a PhD.

    As a female myself, with an undergraduate degree in Biology, I could not find a job after graduation for 3 years. That was over 20yrs ago. I had student loans, though under $20,000, but I could not afford to work in my field because the pay was too low. Too low to even pay for the degree that allowed me to get an entry level lab job. I could not stay and continue to spiral into debt and possible default so I had to leave and return to my previous job well outside the field.

    People can push the STEM fields all they want, but like myself, it leads to a dead end for a lot of people. Perhaps I should have gone to graduate school, but again there is no guarantee that I would have gotten a job in my preferred field, wildlife biology. I would have just incurred more debt, and nothing to show for it. So I chose to just abandon my dreams.

    There were plenty of women that I met in my short foray into the field, so I would not say that women cannot get ahead, but again it is highly competitive possibly due to the fact that they operate on grants to get funding. Grant based occupations whether they are in the STEM fields or other grant related fields, getting funding raises the bar even further because only the most lucrative endeavors get the money.

    So there are numerous obstacles which create an environment that is very choosy as to who will bring in the grant money with a support staff that needs to be overqualified to get any real meaning or career satisfaction. Women getting a foot hold in any STEM field is not necessarily due to them being women, but a lack of diverse opportunity willing to support and nurture anyone achieve their career goals.

    • Hector Buentello Jr. says

      It’s never too late to fulfill your dreams. Did you ever consider relocating?

    • Lightning Rose says

      Before choosing a “field,” would-be collegians would do well to first assay whether there are, in fact, many opportunities to actually get a job doing that. “Wildlife biologist” probably has under 10 openings a year worldwide, and working pro-bono for non-profits to boot. There are probably more opportunities to be an Olympic ski jumper! I know a girl right now with a Master’s degree in 16th century English and French literature. Currently “employed” by a non-profit animal charity, she spends her days REHOMING HAMSTERS. No joke. This is what happens when you choose the fanciful major over the practical. I hated at the time that Dad sent me to business school, but it turned out really well. Consider.

      With regard to the everlasting whine about “discrimination,” I’ll make an observation: Most of the “feminist” bent see “sexism” everywhere, because that’s the name of the chip on their shoulder. People with low flash-points, who can’t get along with others, who are pains in the ass standing in the way of accomplishing anything while attracting attention for their Speshul Snowflake status are a crushing bore to work with, no matter what their self-appointed “out” group is.

      You want to do physics? FINE! Get in there and DO PHYSICS. If you’re any good, you’ll be recognized for your WORK just like anyone else is. Concentrate on THAT–not lifting up paranoid rocks wondering if your lack of progress is because someone’s dissing you. Chances are your colleagues are focused on their OWN careers, not torpedoing yours. Seriously, this stuff is sounding like a broken record. There’s an old expression: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Excellence is a crucible–the dross gets burned away!

      • Anonymous says

        ” Currently “employed” by a non-profit animal charity, she spends her days REHOMING HAMSTERS. ”

        I’d rehome hamsters for big bucks, as long as I didn’t have to clean cages or anything.

    • Hi!
      So you also got duped by popular science. Maybe you read Cosmos? And watch David Attenborough’s documentaries. When we are 18 we aren’t very good at thinking that somewhere in the future we will have to support ourselves, so we follow our dreams. I had two things going for me. First: I was a very mediocre, lazy, incompetent, good for nothing college student. I managed to burn all the bridges that would allow me to pursue an academic career. Second: I was terrified of poverty. So I moved to a more profitable field. I don’t like my job. My brighter friends are stuck in dead end jobs in Academia. Who made the right career move?

  4. Oliver Alexander says

    I wonder, when we will start the struggle to have at least 50% men in journalism.

    • How about primary and elementary teaching? How many men in that field?

  5. Denny Sinnoh says

    I had no idea that those nerdy science guys were such notorious womanizers and sexually aggressive harassers.

    • peterschaeffer says

      DS, “I had no idea that those nerdy science guys were such notorious womanizers and sexually aggressive harassers.”

      They are the worst of the bad… In their dreams…

    • In my experience (PhD at King’s College, six years of postdoctoral research at Yale and ETH), the professors are always dipping their wick in the pool of nubile female (frequently willing) graduate students. It’s actually a cliche.

      • gush says

        To be fair this is all teachers of all fields.
        Nowdays, the boys of medicine get passed around like a joint among their experienced teachers.
        I certainly know sociology and psychology teachers do.

  6. Chad Chen says

    Without addressing the issue of whether there are real gender differences in capability and achievement in hard sciences, let me say that the data used for this article is unsatisfactory and does not support the kinds of conclusions many Quillette readers are like to draw. A couple of quick points:

    Counting citations in the academic literature is a poor measure of scientific achievement or merit. Many scientists game the system by brokering the publication of work done by others, republishing the same or similar work numerous times, publishing trivial findings, etc. Citations are used as a very rough indicator of merit only because better data is closely held or unavailable, but we should be honest about their questionable value.

    It is problematic to generalize from facts particular to one historical period. The demography of a profession can change in just one generation. High school teaching in many countries used to be the exclusive preserve of men .Today, in most of those same countries, it is monopolized by women.

    Just as the rise and fall of political empires over time is almost impossible to explain satisfactorily, so is the mystery of many gender disparities. I have no idea why women underperform in hard sciences, but I don’t think anyone has the information needed to tackle such a big question.

    • cicero romanus says

      Citation counting might be a poor metric, but it begs the question: What is a better metric? Academia is a “publish or perish” environment, so, consequently, publications and the number of citations is currently the best metric until someone comes up with a better one.

      I do agree that some researchers game the system by being self referential to their own publications or make minor tweaks to an existing paper that is republished in another journal. IEEE and ACM abound with examples — this is a failure of peer review, not a failure of bibliographic analysis.

      Like that old saying about democracy, citation analysis sucks, but it’s the best we have.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @cicero romanus

        Self-citations are usually not considered in analyses such as this one. I’m not sure if the author specifically excluded them or not here, though. I know they aren’t included in calculating journal impact factors.

    • Anonymous says

      Citations are a good indicator of impact on average, and thus a good pick for a statistical study. While a specific scientists might be gaming the citation system enough to truly distort this metric it is very unlikely that an aggregate of many scientists would be doing the same.

    • Jairo Melchor says

      @Chad Chen

      The author does not negate that citations are not perfect. In fact, he states and warns this in the third paragraph of the “Data” section in this piece.

      So, given the statement that gender disparaties are an unknown mystery without explanation, should we just let political activists use the word “sexism” without evidence other than there are more men to achieve control? Or should we try to use available data we have to try and pinpoint a possible cause/explanation to the issue, as the author of this piece tried to do?

    • peterschaeffer says

      CC, Clearly you haven’t read Alessandro Strumia’s presentation. He covers many lines of evidence in addition to the citation data. All of the other lines of evidence, support the same conclusion. The claim of large scale, systematic sexual discrimination in the sciences is just PC/SJW/Cultural Marxist nonsense.

    • peterschaeffer says

      CC, the following is a set of quotes from Scott Alexander.

      “As the feminist movement gradually took hold, women conquered one of these fields after another. 51% of law students are now female. So are 49.8% of medical students, 45% of math majors, 60% of linguistics majors, 60% of journalism majors, 75% of psychology majors, and 60% of biology postdocs. Yet for some reason, engineering remains only about 20% female.

      And everyone says “Aha! I bet it’s because of negative stereotypes!”

      This makes no sense. There were negative stereotypes about everything! Somebody has to explain why the equal and greater negative stereotypes against women in law, medicine, etc were completely powerless, yet for some reason the negative stereotypes in engineering were the ones that took hold and prevented women from succeeding there.

      And if your answer is just going to be that apparently the negative stereotypes in engineering were stronger than the negative stereotypes about everything else, why would that be? Put yourself in the shoes of our Victorian sexist, trying to maintain his male privilege. He thinks to himself “Well, I suppose I could tolerate women doctors saving my life. And if I had to, I would accept women going into law and determining who goes free and who goes to jail. I’m even sort of okay with women going into journalism and crafting the narratives that shape our world. But women building bridges? NO MERE FEMALE COULD EVER DO SUCH A THING!” Really? This is the best explanation the world can come up with? Doesn’t anyone have at least a little bit of curiousity about this?”

      • Charlie says

        Fewer women than men do maths and those which do prefer pure maths and stats. Physics and engineering is largely applied maths and fewer women are either like or good at them.

        Engineering is about using scientific knowledge, maths and the ability to think in 3d to solve problems. Much science is pure which is about curiosity not solving problems. Applied science is more about solving problems and acts as the bridge between pure knowledge and engineering.

        Engineering is largely applying science combined with trial and error until one produces a prototype which works. One needs to be able to learn from one’s mistakes, often laugh at them and at times, cope with ridicule.

        Few women can admit to mistakes in public and often take criticism personally. If one makes an object which fails , the laws of the universe have in effect criticised ones endeavours. A good film which shows the various steps of producing a working engineering is the film the “Dam Busters “. The film shows the various steps and many failures B Wallis had to go through from the moment he had the idea of bouncing a bomb over water so it would evade the torpedo nets and destroy dams. Wallis got the idea from Admiral Nelson who bounced cannon balls off the sea to hit enemy ships close to the water line.
        Developing new technology requires travelling into the unknown and taking responsibility for one’s failures. If peoples fear of being ridiculed for failure is greater than their desire for adventure and success they will not start on their journey of discovery.

        Do people not travel into the unknown because it is unknown or are drawn to it because it is unknown?

        • Canadian Moxie says

          Few women can admit to mistakes in public?? In my experience, it’s quite the opposite. Not sure what your field is, but I’m an engineer,and a successful one at that. My graduating class was 40% female and that was over 20 years ago. I work all over the world and am surprised by how many female engineers I come across. Go into any engineering office in North America and you’ll see quite a large proportion of women. You provide no basis for your assertions and, pssst, your sexism is showing.

          • Charlie says

            Go onto a site( construction, mining, oil ) and endure the criticism of a foreman because as a junior engineer one made mistakes. A female friend said women hold grudges more than men and tend to take criticism more personally. Once one is on sight working in tough conditions, humour can be brutal. In fact a strong women with a sense of humour is better at managing tough men than a weak man with no sense of humour but the percentages are small.

            Look at the percentage of subjects taken by men and women at pre-university level. Women take a higher percentage of arts subjects and where they take sciences they chose medicine over engineering. Men and women are free to choose subjects. A lower percentage of women take maths than men and where they do they chose pure maths and stats, not applied maths : that is their choice.

            St Paul’s girls School which is one of the most academic school in the UK., 40 girls take Biology, 16 take Physics and 19 take Further Maths A level so the bias is towards studies requiring biology rather than physics . The top physics, maths and engineering departments require as minimum Further Maths A level. St Pauls girls are intelligent and quite capable of choosing their careers.
            https://spgs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/A-Level-and-Pre-U-Results-2.pdf

    • Citation analysis may be a poor measure but what would you suggest as an alternative? It is at least quantatative and objective.

      The problem is not that professor Strumias analysis is beyond any criticism or objections. The problem is that a viewpoint backed by evidence from several different areas is rejected and those that advocate it excluded in order to prevent the ordinary scientific process where competing theories are de ated and a consensus achieved through the presentation of evidence.

      This is deeply disturbing. A major scientific organisation has rejected the scientific method in favoyr of political dogma. CERN has certainly been brought into disrepute but by its own actions rather than anything by professor Striumia.

      The second concern is that the evidence suggests that strong discrimination is taking place on the basis of sex but that this is against men. Where is the concern about this? Surely this at least deserves further investigation?

      • E. Olson says

        AJ wrote: “Citation analysis may be a poor measure but what would you suggest as an alternative? It is at least quantatative and objective.”

        You see this is the problem – “quantitative and objective” are sexist tricks of the patriarchy to keep women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Instead we need to use measures of “feeling and subjectivity” which will surely demonstrate that women are discriminated against by all those mean male scientists. We all have to remember that science (and humankind) loses when it lets complicated and sexist numbers get in the way of feminine feelings.

        • peanut gallery says

          They must also consider indigenous ways of knowing that wamen must be respekted and allowed to do and say anything and never be questioned. Ever.

          Criticizing a woman is equivalent to rape.

    • Hans Meier says

      Counting citations is at least objective and reproduceable. Not something you can say about anectodical evidence and pure claims pnly based on ideology and wishful thinking.

    • peterschaeffer says

      A few facts. Yes, I know that “fact” is a four-letter word (male is also a four-letter word) and not PC, but facts are important.

      In countries with less sex discrimination, occupational differentiation is greater than in countries with more sex discrimination. This is known as the “Gender Equity Paradox”. For example, there is more occupational differentiation in Canada than in Ghana. Is Canada really a hellhole of sex discrimination and Ghana some sort of gender equity paradise? Would anyone with half a brain believe such a thing? Actually, some Feminists have tried to make that argument. Note that this point is the specific subject of the first Hjernevask documentary (Hjernevask (“Brainwashing”) – English – Part 1 – The Gender Equality Paradox).
      Newborns children (1 day old) show rather typical male/female interest patterns. The boys are already more interested in things and the girls are more interested in people. This fits rather well with a genetic model of sex-related interests and blows up the “cultural discrimination” model.
      The juvenile forms of other primates behave much like human children. Male juvenile primates play with trucks. Female juvenile primates play with dolls.
      Brain imaging studies have shown that male and female brains look different. The differences match the “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” model rather well. Women’s brains are simply wired differently than men’s. Women’s brains are designed to multitask and communicate. Male brains are designed to concentrate. Those are clichés about adult men and women. They also have a measurable biological basis. Note that a computer can tell a male brain from a female brain with a high (but not perfect) degree of accuracy.
      It is well known that the standard deviation of intellectual talents is higher for men than women. Why isn’t clear. There is an easy evolutionary explanation for why this might/should be true. However, that doesn’t prove that the evolutionary explanation is correct. A completely different theory is that women have two X chromosome and men only have one. Having two X chromosomes tends to balance out extremes in women but allows them to show up in men. Note that this is just a theory (so far) and could be complementary to the evolutionary explanation.

      Ultimately, the reason doesn’t matter. The schism in standard deviations is a trivially reproducible result. The consequences are that more men have extraordinary talents, than women. This was the (completely accurate) point that Larry Summers made back in 2006. He was right then, and still is.

      CAH females should remarkably “male” patterns of interest and talent. CAH females have (to some degree) male hormonal patterns. Not merely do CAH females have “male” tendencies, the extent that they do, correlates with their hormonal patterns rather well. In other words, the more “male” their hormones, the more “male” they think.
      Over recent decades, women have advanced remarkably in some professionals but not to the same degree in others. For example, huge numbers of women can be found in Law, Medicine and Biology (LMB) whereas they are far less common in Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering (PCE). Is it really plausible that LMB are models of non-discriminatory tolerance while PCE are bastions of sexism? Can anyone with a straight face claim such a thing? Did the once dominant “male establishment” decide that “we will let women into the low prestige fields of Law, Medicine, and Biology but keep them out of high-prestige fields of Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering”? Does that make any sense at all? The Patti Housman explanation fits the facts rather well. This argument is from the Star Codex web site.
      A detailed study of Open Source contributions showed that men outnumber women by 17:1. Since Open Source has no barriers (institutional, economic, political, etc.) to entry, the outstanding male:female ratio is a “pure” test of relative interest (and/or talent). See “http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/02/12/before-you-get-too-excited-about-that-github-study/
      The Math SAT data shows a deep and very persistent male advantage. See “2016 SAT test results confirm pattern that’s persisted for 50 years — high school boys are better at math than girls” (http://www.aei.org/publication/2016-sat-test-results-confirm-pattern-thats-persisted-for-45-years-high-school-boys-are-better-at-math-than-girls/). I know the results aren’t PC. However, facts are facts.
      The global PISA data shows that (in relative terms), boys are better than girls (at math) everywhere. The consistency of the results is amazing (in all countries). Note that in some countries boy/girl math scores are roughly equal. In those countries, girls vastly outperform boys in verbal scores. In other countries, boys greatly outperform girls in math. In those countries, verbal PISA scores tend to be more equal. However, the relative advantage of boys over girls in remarkably constant globally. It is also consistent globally, there is literally no country where boy are better than girls (in relative terms) in verbal abilities versus math.
      The John/Joan case shows (rather clearly) the sexual identity is innate and biological. Of course, one single case doesn’t really prove anything. However, studies of similar cases all show exactly the same thing.

      Since 2000, American (and Western) society have moved radically to the “left” (the identity politics left, not the economic left). Cultural explanations of sex differences have become ever more commonplace and the associated ideology has been ever more rigidly enforced. Conversely, the scientific community has moved the other way. The volume of scientific data showing large, genetic differences has relentlessly grown to the point that anyone even trivially familiar with the literature finds “cultural explanations” laughable.

      Basically, the political system has dug in with “The Sun orbits the Earth and you will pay dearly for daring to disagree” while the scientific community has embraced “men are from Mars, women are from Venus”. Consider the Larry Summers imbroglio. The math and science faculties supported him. The Liberal Arts faculties wanted him out. You would think that the accuracy of his comments might be relevant to a school with Veritas on its seal. You would be wrong.

    • Paper and citation counts have a lot of noise when it comes to individual researchers, but over the large sample size of the whole of given field, the trends that they capture are quite reliable.

      Also, even if we accept the premise that they are not directly correlated with true scientific merit, that is actually irrelevant to the question of whether women are discriminated or not, because papers and citations are indeed what hiring decisions are based on. So with respect to the question of whether any hiring and promotion biases they are very much relevant.

    • Peter Todd Williams says

      Chad,

      I take it you aren’t very familiar with arXiv. The issue to me is not whether the research in Alessandro’s article merits his conclusions; it is whether his article was treated fairly by arXiv. In a separate post below, I list just a few other arxiv papers that popped up after a quick search. Some are serious; others are not. One, for example, presents a survey with sample of N=43, followed by, essentially, minutes from a meeting on how to increase diversity: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1206.4112.pdf

      It is a well-established legal principle that selective enforcement is unlawful arrogation of power and is inimical to the rule of law. A similar principle holds in the sciences.

      Peter

  7. OWG says

    I think examination of the pie charts, only, can lead to observations that could be examined. The Lit through Agr portion is nearly identical. Women are equal or ahead in such demanding fields as Architecture, Law, Geo/Bio, and Chem/Far. (I will ignore Medical since I don’t know if nursing is included, or not.) Men are more underrepresented in Teach, Lang, and Psy than women are in Engineering and Science.

    Are some or all of the differences due to sexism? Or is it due to rational decisions about aptitude and level of effort versus work environment, pay and career path. My mathematics major son started out as a math teacher major but was made to feel distinctly unwelcome and so switched to a pure math program. Before I retired as an engineering manager, I mentored a number of women engineers into roles they wanted including senior management. In the process, I came to understand that they liked engineering but more importantly, they said that they liked the discipline enough to stick with the demanding course work in spite of feeling overly challenged at times. I will note, as I did to them, that there were times that I and other men felt the same.

    One last comment. Computerization advances have practically eliminated any supposed advantage that men may have in spatial visualization. Easily created solid and surface models show everyone what a design and all its parts look like and how they interact with its environment and the other parts. No more hours spent staring off into space trying to create those images in your head.

    • Indeed, and I think that while there might be some smallish genetic drift in variability, a large amount of the discrepancy is best explained with the ‘choice’ argument as opposed to the discrimination explanation. We could rephrase the statement another way.. “Why are males so likely to enjoy a career path that requires 70hr+ workweeks in a cutthroat high stress environment, vanishingly small job opportunities, poor pay relative to the qualifications and talent necessary to succeed and a ardous, windy path to reach tenure..

    • peterschaeffer says

      OWG, I think you are overstating the impact of computerization on the significance of visual-spatial skills. Of course, the current generation of CAD, CNC/DNC, 3-D printing, graphical, etc. tools are very impressive. To be specific, I highly recommend the 3-D graphical tools provided for free by Google and the (not free) tools provided by Wolfram-Alpha.

      However, these tools do not negate (or even materially diminish) to importance of visual-spatial skills in many fields including math, chemistry, physics, electronics, computer science, etc. The ability to think about problem visually is a key technique to solve them.

      A few examples should suffice.

      What is the ratio of the volume of the largest perfect tetrahedron that can be inscribed in a sphere (to the volume of the sphere)? No visualization tool is going to help you with this one.

      A lot of Calculus problems are similar. The ability to think visually helps a lot. Try the problems over at brilliant.org. “Seeing them” helps a lot.

      • Geoge Tyrebyter says

        Exactly right. The notion of computer replacing conceptualization is science fiction. For the computer to do the visualization, it would often take solving the problem. I’ve had a career in computer stuff, specifically statistics. I have learned one important thing – that simulations on computers are usually a pile of crap.

  8. Stephanie says

    Excellent essay. I should do a study like this myself, because my supervisor did one ten years ago and found that women were not hired at the rate predicted by their productivity and citation count in our field. I know anecdotally she and some other European female professors have been harassed by male colleagues (including damaging lab equipment and stealing research funds), but it’s hard to know if that is based on their sexism or simply the friction that tends to occur between coworkers.

    One thing not considered in this kind of analysis is motherhood. People start their publishing careers towards the end of their PhD (unless they have publishable MSc work), but for most people that’s pushing 30. You can’t put off having children much longer, and really your mid- to late-20s is the best time to start. For inescapable biological reasons mothers carry the greater share of the childrearing responsibility in the early years, and that has to take away from work time. There should be some awareness in hiring for parents, and especially for mothers, that corrects for the effect of young children on productivity. This is a better approach to getting women in STEM than affirmative action, which disproportionately benefits women without children (and who thus should be competing directly with men).

    I know somebody will say “that’s a choice you make,” but considering our falling birthrate and the excuse it provides politicians to flood our countries with culturally-incompatible people from the third world, discouraging our most intelligent women from having children is a terrible mistake. It’s also a monumental waste of the resources needed to educate such women, since a few years dip in productivity is no good reason to waste an otherwise productive candidate.

    I’m saddened that nearly all of my colleagues (male and female) enter their thirties unmarried and with no kids on the horizon. It’s not your publication count that’s going to matter when you’re on your deathbed.

    • Marty says

      Scandinavian countries, which are held up as a model for promoting women in the workplace, including STEM, including women with children and including the correction for children you have cited, have not been able to solve the gender deficiency.

      There are other issues at play, and they have nothing to do with sexism.

      • Stephanie says

        Marty, the goal is not to solve the gender imbalance, it is to facilitate motherhood.

        • facilitate motherhood? why should society facilitate someone’s private choices? you want a career, you work hard. you want kids, then you can’t work hard, so dont expect special treatment because of your genitals.

          • Motherhood is something you do for society not just yourself. If nobody has kids there’ll be no humankind to serve with your work/science in just a couple of years. That said, humankind kan survive with just a couple of millions humans worldwide, there’s no need for the billions we currently have and need to feed and keep alive.

          • Anonymous says

            “so dont expect special treatment because of your genitals.” unless you are Ron Jeremy.

    • Peter Kriens says

      @stephanie If motherhood is the cause of the STEM gender gap, what is the cause of the gender gap in education, medicine, law and other fields where women are in the majority?

      That, I do think society should find a way to compensate for the financial consequences of raising the next generation.

    • S. Cheung says

      Stephanie,
      what you describe is the crux of the pay gap as well. It’s literally not that a man and woman are standing side by side doing the exact same job, and the man gets paid more. It’s that the woman works less, invariably for the motherhood/family responsibility issues that you bring up.

      And that leads to a bigger discussion of what is considered “work”. We remunerate work based on a very narrow definition, not much more sophisticated than punching a time clock. It excludes child-bearing and child-raising that literally fosters society’s future, platitudes notwithstanding. And then there is caregiving, or perhaps even “volunteering” or public service, which offers a net benefit to society. I don’t think monetary pay is necessarily the solution; but I don’t know what meaningful remuneration for those efforts would look like.

      • dirk says

        The concept and definitions of work and labour are put up by men, it’s a patriarchal invention. Work and labour and wage was a rather late phenomenon and invention of mankind. In the stone ages, and even during millennia in the mainly self supporting agricultural societies, there was much work to be done, but no jobs and paid labour. It started all with slavery (first stages, not yet paid) for the pyramids, canals and walls of the new empires, and those slaves were men, not women (they stayed at home to take care for the land, the animals and the children)

      • Lightning Rose says

        The mistake is to believe you can “Have It All.” No, you can’t, and evey choice is a trade-off. Nobody’s promoted to CEO or department head because they dropped out of the workforce for 5 or 10 years to raise a family. By the same token, that CEO sacrificed having the leisure of time in the bosom of his family in the name of getting ahead. Presumably, given the vast number of single women out there striving today, the playing field should be level between non-mothers and men. And no, I’m sorry, “society” is not paying people to have kids and stay home. I wouldn’t be against a tax credit, given the sorry job the State is doing raising kids in loco parentis.

    •  There should be some awareness in hiring for parents, and especially for mothers, that corrects for the effect of young children on productivity. This is a better approach to getting women in STEM than affirmative action, which disproportionately benefits women without children (and who thus should be competing directly with men).
      No there should not. We all make decisions and we need to accept the consequences of those decisions. The best person for a job should always be the person awarded it. If a man chose to take a 5 year career break to raise money for cancer research raising millions should he on return be promoted to the same level as if he had never left, above people with more experience and skill?

    • E. Olson says

      Stephanie – you raise a very difficult point. You are absolutely correct that high IQ women are the females that society should be encouraging to have children, as they are much more likely to be great parents both genetically and behaviorally than low IQ mothers. Yet no society on earth has figured out a way to accomplish this beyond keeping women in general out of school for religious or cultural reasons, because once smart women become educated they stop having as many children. Generously paid and lengthy maternity/parental leaves, and subsidized child care as mandated in much of Europe has not helped. Increased tax credits for having children has not helped. On the other hand, social security and the expansion of the welfare state have certainly hurt, as they reduce the incentive to marry and have children for individual level economic security and old-age care.

      From a career standpoint, married men with children tend to have the greatest career success and income, likely due to their desire to generously provide for their families, which is a motivation that single/childless men lack. Interestingly, a similar pattern is found among women academics, as those with families tend to outperform single/childless women in research/publishing performance, which is not what would be expected given the greater child-bearing/raising burdens that even married women tend to encounter. Yet taking a few months/years off (or shift to part-time status) to have and raise children almost always means that even the most dedicated and talented academic mothers are going to fall behind dedicated and talented academic fathers, which is typically reflected in the publication/citation counts, especially at the elite level. Furthermore, a substantial portion of professional/career oriented women find they enjoy motherhood and raising their children, and if they have a “go-getter” husband to provide for the family they are much more likely than men to leave their profession permanently or at least never return to full-time status (which usually entails much more than 40 hours per week at the elite levels).

      Thus this creates a problem for society, as motherhood represents a much better “career” option of low IQ/socio-economic women, particularly in the modern welfare state, but using them as the primary source of children is likely to lead to the collapse of the welfare state and modern way of life, which requires new generations of high IQ people raised with middle/upper class values and opportunities that a traditional family of high IQ parents is mostly likely to provide. Similarly, maintaining the high status of a school or profession is dependent on having high performing employees, and employers who hire lots of women are almost certainly going to take a productivity hit, which may be magnified if they have children. School rankings and accreditation are based in part on faculty publication rates, and as far as I know none of them make allowances for motherhood related productivity lapses.

      • Somewoman says

        It’s not true that better policies for maternity leave etc don’t help. They might help. At least a correlation analysis would show they do. The graph below shows fertility rates across Europe:

        https://jakubmarian.com/fertility-rate-by-region-in-europe/

        Scandinavian countries generally have higher fertility rates and Iceland has the highest fertility rate. And Iceland’s rate is not because of immigrants as they barely have any. In contrast more traditional societies that expect mothers to stay at home with young children tend to catastrophically low fertility rates if those countries are first world countries. East Asian countries such as japan demonstrate this. As do countries like Italy where single breadwinner families are considered ideal.

        Even with deep religiosity and lack of career opportunities, replacement level fertility rates are not sustained once a country reaches a point of economic development, essentially once a country becomes first world. Indeed, you see it in some high income countries which aren’t entirely first word such as Kuwait which has a fertility rate of 1.97, below replacement.

        Thus far the best model that works within first world countries appears to be what Iceland has- a homogenous low immigration society with strong socialist policies towards maternity and family.

        • gush says

          Somewoman, you made somegreat points!
          (yeah, I couldn’t have avoided the pun. Joke aside you actually did make a great point.)

      • Joana George says

        @E. Olson

        “Furthermore, a substantial portion of professional/career oriented women find they enjoy motherhood and raising their children, and if they have a “go-getter” husband to provide for the family they are much more likely than men to leave their profession permanently or at least never return to full-time status (which usually entails much more than 40 hours per week at the elite levels).”

        I’d like to expand on your point a little bit. I’m not sure if my situation corresponds to a substantial portion of proffesional/career women, but I definitely can’t be the only one to think like this.

        I don’t particularly enjoy motherhood, I miss engineering and my research a lot! On a daily basis I’d much rather do research than tell my daughter for the 500th time that the cow goes moo. I’m still most likely not going to return to full-time status for at least 10 years. That obviously is going to put serious limitations on what I can achieve in my career. I’m fine with that. I wasn’t fine with me and my husband risking to lose control over our kid’s upbringing. Since my career was going to take a hit because of maternity leave anyway and I have undeniably superior skills when it comes to baby feeding, it just made sense for me to be the one to stay home.

        • Somewoman says

          Joana, out of all the mothers I know, I only know one who really likes staying at home with their small kids, and she never had a career to begin with. I know other stay at home mothers, but some of them actively dislike it and say they do it because they don’t really make enough at work to justify going back. Others say that they like staying at home with the kid somewhat, but mostly they just didn’t like their experience in the career world. They never found something that was a great fit for them anyways so they stay home.

          I would say I am pretty representative of most of my friends who are mothers. Spending time with my kids is kind of like eating ice cream. Ice cream is the best and I get excited about it, but eating ice cream all day every day would be total heII. Same with spending all day every day with my toddler. About three quarters of the working mothers I know are about as dispassionate about their jobs as I am. We all have cush office jobs. We all make six figures (because we live in NYC). And none of us really care about our jobs, and we admit this to each other. We just go to work to collect our paycheck and have somewhere to interact with adults on a daily basis.

          I profoundly enjoy motherhood. Hence, I am expecting my third. But I only enjoy it because I don’t have to talk baby all day.

          • BrannigansLaw says

            @Somewoman

            “have somewhere to interact with adults on a daily basis”

            This is the only reason why most people get any enjoyment from the 99% of available jobs that are monotonous. Helping mothers secure part time work along with tax credits and subsidized childcare (if necessary) is the only way to reverse the lower birth rates of people in the developed world.

          • Somewoman says

            @brannigans,

            Yes, subsidies for having children might help. Israe provides financial subsidies for each child and they are the only developed county which maintains a fertility rate above replacement. And it’s not just the orthodox and Hasidic which are responsible for that. Even secular Jews have fertility above replacement. The rest of the world should look to Israel to see what they do. Seems to be the following:

            They have a strong national purpose and at some level see themselves as a group which isn’t interchangeable with non Jews. So they know that only they can replace themselves.
            They do have a fairly strong welfare state.
            The secular people probably often interact with the religious who are having many children. That normalizes having large families.

            In the us, it seems most religious groups with large families live somewhat separately so urban millennialis tend not to interact with them.

            We at least need to start raising people with the idea that high iq is valuable and can only be produced by those who have it. Smart women need to understand that high iq will not randomly emerge in Africa if we redistribute our wealth there or let them immigrate here to maintain our population growth. I think if they at least understood this, they would value repdroducing.

        • E. Olson says

          Joana George – thank you for sharing your personal experience, and I can only hope that you increasingly see the wisdom and reward of choosing to spend more time raising your daughter. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions, as evidence suggests you would very likely feel guilty about missing many of your child’s milestone moments and/or not being able to quickly correct upbringing mistakes of the hired help if you went back to work full-time. Fathers are even more likely to miss these special/important events, which can be made more painful when the work they are so often “forced” to do to provide the daily bread is not very interesting or meaningful.

    • So, society needs to solve the problem, instead of saying “inescapable reasons”. How about freezing sperm and eggs, how about inseminating other women, and help those who are infertile by nature?

      Also statistically you are right about intelligence being partly an inherited trait, but it’s not a fixed rule as some people suggest (not saying you did), it’s only an indicator. My wife and I are both academically schooled, but my son is struggling with basic math in school.

    • Great comment, Stephanie. I myself work in the nonprofit sector. A once ardent feminist, I decided I did not want to gave kids. Now I am 34 and really regret not doing so earlier. And, most of my female colleagues complain incessantly about the lack of women in STEM, while pursuing a Master in gender equality or some other nonsense.

      • gush says

        You would have regretted it regardless. At least you are not regretting having a child later and sooner, like your feminist colegue who decided being a single mother at 25, but honestly actually decided to get several condomless creampies (because she’s allowed to live her fantasies as a woman) got pregnant and then the hormones decided she should be a single mother.

    • Arthur says

      It’s so clear that women are represented in STEM fields at a lower rate because of choice rather than because of discrimination. Women now are dominating in the highly competitive and academically demanding fields in which they’re interested – for example, there are now more women enrolled in US medical schools than men. Why was medicine able to go from being completely dominated by men (in the 1960s it was rare to find a female physician) to having female equity and even predominance in about 50 years while the STEM cannot bridge this gap even with aggressive recruiting of women? Could it be because women are on average more attracted to people-centered work? Or is medical training less rigorous than engineering? Or are engineers and scientists more misogynistic? I think the answer is obvious.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Stephanie

      Why is it the case that women necessarily have to take significantly more time away from work after having children than men do? Obviously they have to be in the hospital for a bit to actually deliver the baby, but after that there is no biological reason why the child couldn’t be cared for by the father just as well as the mother. Breastfeeding is not a necessity, and breast milk can be stored. Generally I would guess that it is the woman’s preference to take time away from her career to care for her children. If she’s very career-focused and also wants to have children, it seems like she should find a husband who is willing to take on the primary parenting responsibilities while she continues to prioritize her career.

      • gush says

        It’s everyone’s interest to be with their kids.
        As a rule everyone prefers to spend more time with their kids and family members than being with anyone else.
        As a rule, people prefer being unproductive around people to being productive alone, and people love being productive. And this “productive” is in it’s most generalized form.
        People prefer being in an unproductive conversation instead of having a time alone for productive introspection.

    • Geoge Tyrebyter says

      In a world with 7.5-8 billion people, my concern about the “failing birth rate” is pretty low.

  9. Gordon Smith says

    I have written a “progressive prayer”

    Our loving God of inclusivity, diversity and tolerance
    Hallowed be your name
    Your opinion be the only one
    Your will be done in our private homes and hearts
    As it is on social media
    Give us our day by day your sanctimony
    And forgive us our sins of alternative views
    As we accept that others differ from us
    Lead us not into the temptation of thinking for ourselves
    But deliver us from the evils of freedom
    For yours is the power, money and hypocrisy
    Now but hopefully not forever
    Amen

    • E. Olson says

      Secular humanists don’t believe there is a God, nor that any aspect of their beliefs in rational science share a similarity with religion, hence your creative effort really is not appropriate when there is no one or thing to pray too or for.

    • dirk says

      Nice Our Father, Gordon! For your information: in the NLs, in some sarcastic and progressive, leftish black and white TV program in the 1970s, a similar Our Father was presented, where the media and the TV were positioned as the holy personality to adore, in similar language. A general outcry followed, because at the time, still some 75% of the population was religious, and thought this to be sacrilegious and pure blasphemy. Someting difficult to imagine right now, we are now much further, much progressed in secularity, no problems about it any more, no more bad feelings as was the case then.

  10. Farris says

    How can this possibly be correct? Science and scientists are supposed to be the best hope for directing our lives by making non biased fact based decisions. Faith in science is no different than faith in any other institution because all institutions are controlled by people.

  11. Anon says

    Wokeness is like the peacock’s tail, only a strong and reliable institution can afford this liability. It outbreaks mainly in the leading tech and academic institutions, as if it’s an elitist signal of status. I wonder whether it’s a coincidence that in this instance too the goal of this strategy is to court female approval.

  12. The author’s experience is horrifying (and I’m a woman who majored in physics but ended up deciding against it because I wasn’t terribly good at it, not because anyone stopped me)– but I still don’t understand why this insane ideology has so much traction. I guarantee that the majority of scientists, Dem and liberal including, think this is nuts. The author asks the right questions but doesn’t notice that his answer as to why is in the passive tense: “Indeed, in the present cultural and political climate, the shibboleths of identity politics have made certain things unsayable. An ideology that reduces everything to a power struggle …** is producing*** needless fragmentation and hostility. Reason and objectivity… are frequently dismissed as tools of systemic oppression.11 Science that contradicts the dominant political narrative is attacked Scientific data about gender…are deemed to be “offensive” ”

    So this neatly avoids the main question: WHO is making certain things unsayable? WHO is producing needless fragmentation? WHY are reason and objectivity dismissed and BY WHOM?

    Though I’m not a scientist, I’m around many. No one believes this insane conspiracy stuff. A gifted or solid physicist is welcome no matter the gender or race. It’s true there are shmucks in some departments, but there are shmucks in every single profession; and a gifted woman easily, easily, easily can find an enthusiastic mentor and senior scientist, particularly since physics is international and she could find her support group anywhere. In point of fact, I wish people would discuss female sabotage on other women–that is a real thing. I myself have been backstabbed and harassed by women far more than men; I would wager I’d find a male mentor in physics easier than a female, if we’re going to be talking about gender.

    So the question remains. WHO is behind this and HOW do they have so much power? Is social media enabling a peculiar brain trait of ours to spring back to life? I mean, since we’re designed to be in small groups, maybe social media is a tool that enables the feeling of being in a small tribe, and our ‘small tribe brains’ spring into action: very concerned with in and out group behavior, quasi-religious rules that define the group, using tools of shame and banishment and threats to control the tribe, and so on. So is it a conscious manipulative effort of a handful of people, and if so, to what end? Or is it a happenstance arising from social media that taps into our not-so-ancient brains?

    • Anonymous says

      There is thankfully a simple answer to your interesting question. The “WHO” is the diversity office and the title IX co-ordinator. Those people are true ideological believers in their cause. The “HOW” is mostly because the university needs to be compliant with various title IX rules and the people who are hired to ensure compliance are ideologues. Then of course there is the minority of the faculty which is willing to be bed-fellows with these ideologues either through conviction or to further their own agendas (which might for example include creating trouble for such and such colleague or hiring a specific female in their field of interest). To improve the situation one has to repeal or weaken the title IX laws and disband the diversity office. The current president made a few first steps in that direction.

    • Savager says

      It’s not a who question per se. If you think this is a specific identifiable group, it’s probably incorrect. The better question is the pathway by which people like 500 women scientists set the rules.

      One big issue is that only the far left has ever studied tactics. This is the big thing people miss in criticizing Foucalt et al. They weren’t necessarily interested in metaphysics as much as they really wanted to know how and why Communism failed to spread throughout the world and what could be done to force the issue. The result is that the far left generally understands tactics and strategy and organizes and terrorizes it’s way until it becomes “normalized.”

      The other big mistake is that everyone thinks this is new. It’s been the reality since atleast the 80s. What happens is exactly what you see here. The standards and rigor of a given field aren’t important if you collectively mobilize to fire your opposition and threaten them into silence.

      This is also why they go into the HR department and always make demands for more bureaucracies or hiring. Contrary to popular belief the person in charge of employment is always the most powerful. When you have a seat on the hiring board, you hold the keys to the long term objectives of the organization and can set the tone for the entire organization by extension. Stalin was given the post of Party Secretary as a way to get rid of him, instead he gradually replaced the party with loyalists until he was able to make his own coup.

      We saw this in the humanities when the highly accomplished Alan Bloom went on an offensive against the rising tide of this philosophy from the humanities. It has only branched out from it’s power base from there.

    • Bon says

      The WHO is the hard left that controls the modern left. Their radical worldview got supported by the Western left-wing elite with big parties and media but no better ideas, becoming a politics that needs painting some groups as victims, to get their votes

    • E. Olson says

      Good comments and questions d, Anonymous, Savanger, and Bon. I think the key Who are the Leftist bureaucrats in the government that fund and regulate education and science. As with most government initiatives, Title IX had good intentions in “forcing” schools to not discriminate against women, and focused in the early years mostly on athletic opportunities, but has since been used by radical feminists to address all sorts of areas and applications that were never considered originally even as women comprise 60% of undergraduate students and 50+% of most graduate and professional programs (i.e. the bureaucratic laws of unintended consequences and mission creep).

      The HOW of control is the huge funding provided by governments for education in general, and higher education in particular – the thought of losing government funded student aid and research grants, etc. is more than enough to send every administrator into a frenzy of pro-feminism rule making, disciplinary actions, and program initiatives – free speech rights and academic standards be damned. The fact that most administrators in academia are far Left themselves makes them even more eager accomplices to the feminist agenda, thus even when the Trump administration backs off on the most egregious policies of the Obama administration, most schools happily announce they will continue operating under the old gender and racial quota and protection policies, which allows them to thumb their noses at Trump while maintaining the large Title IX related bureaucracies that consume so much of school budgets (and federal aid).

      • Thank you all for taking the time to ponder my questions but I’m still curious as to the mechanism. As I’ve said, the majority of liberals and the majority of those on college campuses are not in favor of this insanity. I’m quite certain of this, as I”m friends with many liberal and even left-leaning science professors. Literally none of them believe in this scare mongering and conspiracy peddling. (Humanities and social science profs are another thing altogether.)

        So what is the mechanism that a) enables a very small proportion of people to seize power and keep the power? b) why is the media so radical? (If it weren’t for mainstream media reports echoing the threats, none of this would have any traction) and c) what makes everyone else terrified of speaking out? Yes their career is at stake, which is scary. But if professors all spoke out at once, their power would override the bureaucrats.

        This is brand new. Yes, the conspiracy theorizing (women don’t do science because men are keeping them down on purpose) has been around and there is some truth to it–the tenure schedule is very hostile to parents of both genders. I remember a guy friend whose wife was in labor and he took off work for one day; when he came back the chief scientist (who ended up winning the Nobel Prize btw) chastised him and asked him if he was “really committed to this career.” This was in the 1980s. There has definitely been a priestlike attitude about science that has held that it comes first, above family. But this is for both genders. For women it has been harder because we have biological clocks. But lately tenure decisions have been more mindful of this, not less.

        The hysteria and widespread scale of collectivist pseudo-Maoist tactics applied to the hard sciences is new. Yes, the universities are building their Left wing bureaucrats and administration. That is definitely part of it. But what has caused the sudden leap in insanity? My question is if this is largely due to social media which flattens out discourse and makes a Grade F scientist have an equal voice with a Grade A one, makes a mentally imbalanced scientist you wouldn’t listen to in life, suddenly have a voice? Or is it also the mainstream media, which adds fuel – a lot of fuel – to the fire by basically operating as Twitter’s magnifier and legitimizer? If so why is the media so hysterically committed to his Maoist-like indoctrination? Is it fear of losing relevance and power – so they chase after Twitter and click bait? – or is it something deeper?

        What is the appeal of this thinking and why and how is it spreading like wildfire? I’m not positing a secret world order (that’s absurd). I’m just trying to figure out what exactly is going on. Yes, universities are top heavy with insane admin. But that shouldn’t be enough to explain this. Like I said I wonder if there is a psychological component as well – social media has never existed before; I wonder if it’s tapping into a primitive part of our brains that prioritizes belonging to a group and having In and Out members.

        • E. Olson says

          D – “But if professors all spoke out at once, their power would override the bureaucrats.”

          But what if you all agree to speak out about this PC madness, and on the appointed hour you end up being the only one because the others chicken out? Most people are cowards, and academics are probably more cowardly than most people, and that is why the madness continues and grows because nobody pushes back on the relatively small group of “true believers” who often have the power to punish, fire, and even criminalize non-PC “trouble-makers”.

          • D-Rex says

            d said ‘I’m not positing a secret world order (that’s absurd).’ . Maybe not a secret world order but possibly a communist plot. If you have some time to spare E, check out this video from the 80’s. ‘Yuri Bezmenov Deception Was My Job (Complete)’
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3qkf3bajd4

        • DayHay says

          The WHO is everyone who sat on their ass and did not speak up when they came for Strumia. All of CERN needs to take a few weeks off and let the “managers” figure it out.

  13. ianl says

    “Many colleagues privately consider the Social Justice cultists as minor irritants who should be appeased to avoid trouble. ”

    I used to accomodate that view about “post-modernism” and its’ notion that there are no such things as objective facts. This is so silly that I genuinely believed it would quickly fade as a frothy fad, simply acting as an excuse for refusing to learn anything remotely difficult. That’s why journalists were attracted to its’ superficiality.

    Now we are absolutely overwhelmed with this destructive nonsense. I’m staggered at the speed with which this happened. DisEnlightenment in 10 years. The only consolation at my advancing age is that all my life I had wondered how so many people could come to believe the silly fantasies at the core of major religions … now I’ve seen the process first hand and acknowledge that people en-mass are NOT rational and will never be.

    Ignoring activist identity politicians as minor irritants will not work. They have mass stupidity and envy on their side. Expose their hypocrisy, loudly, as they genuinely hate being laughed at. This will slow them down at least.

    As far as male vs female in STEM is concerned, I concluded long ago that any gender imbalance in hard sciences and mathematics compared with the various strands of medicine is indeed down to gender preferences, not innate ability. Women overwhelmingly prefer activities that combine required knowledge with intuitive feelings; men prefer to leave feelings to fallow.

    • @Iani, I agree with most of your observations. However, I dont’ think it’s merely that women like people and men don’t. Women are very strongly represented in biology –over half are biologists. Biology is exactly the same as other hard scientists as far as people versus things–it has the same set up in research, experimentation, and so on.

      I think there is also an ability difference on average. Obviously not individually. But I think women in general are not as good with spatial and theoretical math (and physics) and are also not as interested. I’m a woman; I’m not saying this to be sexist. People have a hard time understanding average versus individual. But on average, I think women are just not as good as men in that area, which explains why there are so many biologists who are women, and why there are so few physicists and mathematicians who are women.

      So the causes are:
      1. Natural interests.
      2. Natural ability on average.

      The tenure process is unfriendly toward child bearing women, but so are a lot of fields,e g medicine, and yet plenty of women do that. I do think the tenure process needs an overhaul so it can attract more Americans as scientists as opposed to its outsized international pool (since many Americans decide against going into it when they realize how long the process is, how unforgiving, and how relatively low paying it is). That’s not a gender issue though.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @d

        I think what you say is probably true, but also I think biology is the most “people-like” and least “thing-like” of the hard sciences in that it deals with living systems rather than just chemicals, particles, or abstract mathematical concepts. For that reason I think biology is a little more “feminine” than chemistry, physics, or engineering. Wanting to understand how a living thing works is a bit different than wanting to understand how a computer program or a black hole works. That is what drew me to biology as a career over other sciences and I suspect that is a part of why many women tend to be more interested in biology as well.

        • rc48 says

          I think another factor is that biology appeals to women because it helps people by contributing to medicine, while for example astronomy is seen as a selfish satisfaction of curiosity at the taxpayer’s expense.

          • Asenath Waite says

            @rc48

            Yes, the end goals in biology have more immediate practicality and humanitarian motivation.

    • Jean Levant says

      “now I’ve seen the process first hand and acknowledge that people en-mass are NOT rational and will never be.”
      You’re right, Ianl. Reason is not the first motivation of men whatever the subject, whether they are believers or not; some of us take more time to come to this truth.
      By the way, scientists are not diffferent than other men. In general, the paradigm comes first and only second the reason. If not third.

      • gush says

        A comedians job is making women laugh, men naturally follow.

        I think it’s the same thing here, this insane ideology took hold for the same reason insane ideologies do, because they appeal to people’s insecurities, to peoples sensibility and to people’s inability and will to understand the world they live in.
        Women are disproportionally inclined to dogmatic ideologies because dogmatic ideologies are disproportionally crafted to appeal to them, because when they do men naturally follow.

        And there’s nothing sexual in this following.

  14. Phil says

    @ Chad Chen wrote: “I don’t think anyone has the information needed to tackle such a big question”. Seriously what a cop out. So astrophysicists must be wasting their time trying to understand the origins of the universe and dark matter in that case? Surely that’s too complex to even try to tackle it. If human kind can’t provide a reasonably robust explanation for what is ultimately a fairly simple sociological question (of this world), then we might as well dispense with science altogether.

    Your logic does not hold up: you seem to be implying that it is wholly unreasonable of scientists to dare tackle any difficult, or even politically-sensitive questions in an attempt to uncover the truth? And meanwhile society and the media appear to give carte blanche to radical ideologues who make no attempt whatsoever to ground their claims in data, let alone science, and appear to have success by going around posing inflamatory rhetorical questions. If we cannot hold a rational, nuanced, open and transparent dialogue about key questions, then I fear we may be handing back the gains that have been made since the age of the Enlightenment.

    Strumia makes a good attempt of summarising the key issues in this article. The missed opportunity lies in his failure not to have included dozens of individual references that would have substantiated each of Strumia’s claims.

    As I am merely replying to an article online, and consequently will omit the citations for I am abou to argue, but I will add that “these are available upon request”.

    Let’s look at some of the key claims:

    People vs things: this a well established claim. Anyone with access to a computer can google the sex mix of undergraduates by subject matter. The results are remarkably consistent across the globe. Women over-index in the humanities, language, psychology, education, biology/medicine and law to name a few (forgetting about disciplines which are nearly entirely female dominated such as nursing, midwifery, early years, gender studies etc.). By definition, the over-indexing of women in such disciplines implies an under-indexing of men in those same fields. Would the feminists use the same logic to argue that men are being under-represented in those fields because of oppression and discrimination? The silence is deafening. But of course choose any discipline for which men over-index (and consequently women under-index) such as mathematics, economics, statistics, physics & astronomy, engineering and computer science, and this can only be due to discrimination and oppression. This line of thinking is beyond me. Also, are bricklayers, taxi drivers, construction industry, mining, plumbing, electricians, roofers, joinders and trades professions also discriminating against women as a result of being 90-99% male dominated? Where are the feminists on obtaining equality of outcome in those fields? But of course not, those fields are too difficult, not visible enough and not high paying enough. The radical feminists are only going after the most prestigious positions.

    In any case, the people vs things argument is further strengthened by the Gender equity paradox. That is, social scientists have ascertained that traditionally gendered roles and behaviours are MORE prevalent in countries that have pursued and adopted the most egalitarian social policies (e.g. Scandinavia). So this means that women gravitate towards traditionally “female” fields in Scandinavia relative to countries which are less developed / egalitarian. This empirical finding of course runs against the social constructionist theory that societal biases are socialisation are the leading cause of men and women’s choices.

    So don’t need to believe my reply. Take the time to review the literature. It is uncontroversial that ON AVERAGE, women prefer people over things.

    The Male variability hypothesis. This is a broadly accepted empirical truth among scienticially minded sociologists and psychologists who don’t have an axe to grind. Explanation: when considering the average of men vs women on the whole, mean IQ differenres are either zero, or not meaningful. So the statement that “on average, men and women have equal intelligence” is broadly correct. What is happening however is that although the mean IQs of the two GROUPS are about 100, men will over-index at both tails of the distribution. In plain English: there are a higher number of male geniuses but also a higher number of male idiots. I understand that the latter statement is not diplomatically correct as this is in fact a serious issue.

    This is because the statistical distribution of male IQ is flatter and has fatter tails (in common parlance). The technical term is that the male IQ distribution is leptokurtic.

    Mensa is the most famous high IQ society in the world. Mensa accepts anyone for membership who is able to score in the 98th percentile of a recognised IQ test (i.e. representing the top 2 percent of the population). Most recognised IQ tests have a standard deviation of 15,16 or 24 points. This means that a score in the 98% percentile is one for which the test result is two standard deviations from the mean of 100. So if the standard deviation of the test in question is 15 points, then this means that you need a score of 130 (i.e. 100+ (2×15)) to be able to gain membership with Mensa. Data from the Toronto chapter of Mensa corroborates the scientific literature that at the level of 130 of IQ, there are 2 men for every woman. So this means that out of 100 high IQ people, you would expect to find approximately 67 men and 33 women. But before you get upset at reading this, REMEMBER it’s not all glory, the Male Variability Hypothesis also means that you have a similar ratio of men to women with mental retardation or sever learning difficulties. So when it comes to cognitive ability, it’s definitey SAFER to be a woman.

    And there is a further finding that the further up the distribution you move (i.e. towards the right hand in particular), the ratio of men to women grows. So when you are talking about people who have an IQ that is 145 (if the Standard deviation is 15, this means 1 in 741 people), the ratios would be closer to 10:1 male to female.

    So we can cover why men are over-indexed in prisons (that is over 90% of prisoners are men) in a separate thread (which again I don’t hear the radical feminists saying that they want equality of outcome for strangely) as the average IQ of prison populations is about 85, but let’s stay on the topic of astrophysics and the Male Variability hypothesis.

    Now why would there be less women in Physics and Astronomy? Well data compiled by Randy Olson (based on data from ETS) shows the correlation between choice of undergraduate college major and IQ (as proxied by SAT scores). Well it transpires that Physics & Astronomy is the discipline that requires the highest brain power (is this surprising given the complex theoretical and mathematical content?) This should not come as a surprise unless you think Einstein was a random bloke off the street? And is it surprising that a theoretical physicist would have a higher IQ than someone studying Social Work or any other field for that matter. So the first point is that even before preferences come into play (let’s say people vs things), there is a naturally smaller pool of women that will be capable of now just gaining admission but also excelling at the material in class. But here we are not just talking about regular undergraduates but professors, and not only that, professors at the World-reknown CERN! So we are not talking about regular folks, we are talking about the cream of the crop. NASA equally employs about 28% of women, but only 15% of the planetary science team comprise women. So the male variability hypothesis definition comes into play to filter down the pool in a first instance.

    AND THEN you overlay the people vs things point, which means that a lot of the very smart 130+ IQ women may CHOOSE to pursue different careers such as medecine or law.

    So the under-indexing of women in fields such as Astrophysics etc is unsurprising.

    And for those of you who do not like what I am writing as it contradicts your ideology, then may I repeat that at the IQ level corresponding to severe learning difficulties and mental retardation, that there will be 2 men for every women. No-one is celebrating any of these empirical findings.

    So recapping, when considering the journey to become a physicist (let’s say at the end of high school) we start with an entire population comprising an equal number of men and women. We then test all the IQs, and discover that on average men and women’s IQs are about the same. But then you look at the distribution of results to realise that there are a greater proportion of men with very high IQs than there are women (and a greater proportion of men with very LOW IQs, but unfortunately these men cannot dream of studying physics so let’s leave them to one side for a moment). In actuality this theoretical process happens with something called the SAT or ACT.

    you then look at what it takes to not only study, but to become a world-class PROFESSOR or researcher in physics or astrophycis, and you realise that you are not dealing with the average or the average Joe, but rather people are the upper right hand tail of the IQ distribution which will most likely comfortably exceed the 130 IQ mark by a significant margin (which equally rules me out with only about 132 of IQ – and this despite me having male genitalia funnily enough. Maybe I am being discriminated against?)

    The result of this sequence is that you get a larger pool of men who would have the cognitive ability not only to merely be comfortable with the material but a level of cognitive ability which is sufficiently high to allow the person to master the material and to contribute to the field at the highest level. Let’s be conservative and say that you then get 2 men for every women for “qualifying individuals”, so 67 men and 33 women out of 100. And then over OVERLAY a filter where your give these very bright people the ability to CHOOSE what they want to study, and consequently you have a filter linked to personal preferences (i.e. people vs things) that emerges, which further reduces the pool of women physicists as MANY of these smart women will opt for pursuing other intellectually rigorous fields such as Medecine or Law.

    And there you have it, the National Science Foundation shows that in 2014, women earned 18.7% of Physics PhDs. And this up from 16% in 2004 and 12.2% in 1995. So the trend is on the rise which is positive as far as I am concerned provided that this is occurring on a meritocratic basis and without pushing people (men or women) into fields that they really don’t wish to pursue.

    Now moving to Bibiometric data.

    We’ve established the plausible reasons why women may be under-represented in physics / astrophysics to start with. And we did not even apply the additional “filters” of maternity and how that may impact senior scientists’ careers, nor did not tackle working time investment and productivity.

    So Strumia then tackles the question of alleged discrimination in the sphere of publication.

    The two metrics employed to evaluate this question would be quantity and quality. This is reasonable.

    So quantity (i.e. productivity) is easy to assess as this involves counting. Quality on the other hand is harder to gauge, but the best way is assess that is (1) ranking of the scientific journal in question; and (2) citation. The former was not specifically tackled here.

    One further control would have been to remove the outliers of highly prolific authors (mostly men) that are skewing all the data. Remember that Price’s Law stipulates that 50% of the work will be done by the square root of the number of people.

    In a recent study, University of Melbourne looked at the rates of publication in several fields and found that 13% of last authors in physics were women.

    So this looks to me like women are slightly under-indexed in their last publications compared to the number of women who earned their PhDs in that field. However, the discrepancy would probably flatten somewhat if you took Price’s Law into account (this is conjecture as opposed to a fact).

    But to point to this and without any other hard evidence except for a few anecdotes and to make the claim that the under-indexig is 100% down to sexism is surely over-reach of conjecture over fact.

    CONCLUSION: Strumia’s analysis is reasonable and directionally correct. To claim that we are no further on explaining why women are under-indexed in Astrophysics is tantamount to denialism. Does this mean that the explanation is 100% correct accurate? of course not. Is it reasonable and broadly correct? Clearly. Is anyone celebrating pointing out these conclusions? No. Are people having fun pointing out these statistics? Not any more fun than pointing out that 99.9% of roofers are men or that 67% of people with mental retardation are men. Or the fact that nearly 60% of undergraduate students these days are women. Facts do not have feelings.

    Does any of this mean that there is zero sexism in the field? Of course not. But is sexism over the top and the root cause of the empirical observation. Absolutely NOT.

    If we are to avoid handing back the gains that humankind has made since the enlightenment, we should all renew our commitment to reason and shine the light on those who don’t .

    Disclosures: I am not a physicist or astrophysicist. Although I am smart, I am not smart enough to be a world-leading astrophysicist despite my male genitalia, and I don’t think this observation points to the fact that I am being discriminated against. I would like to return to a place and time in which the likes of Strumia and Damore would not have to fear for their careers or have their reputations damaged (and consequently livelihoods threatened) for attempting to explain sociological phenomena with data and scientific reasoning, particularly when the arguments (I hope) would be made in good faith. Strumia or Damore could be your dad, your son or your husband. I may not agree with everything that Strumia claims or says, but he certainly should be entitled to make his case without fear of persecution. People should stand up for open discourse and reason. If the silent majority remains silent, we do so at our own great peril.

    • S. Cheung says

      Phil,
      that is an epic comment. Quillette should publish this as a companion to the Professor’s OP. His reads more like a case report (sadly, his own), and is more narrative in nature. Yours is the reference guide.

      Question: my understanding is that in general terms, the first author does most of the work, the last author might be the supervisor or mentor type, and the ones in the middle are doing various impressions of hangers-on. Does bibliometric data take those distinctions into account?

      • dirk says

        @ Cheung: there are very different reasons why somebody is not a first author (= creative owner of the piece). He can be the head of department where the research was carried out or made possible, or just one of the people working there (some even without a title or grade) but having contributed with physical or administrative work. These then are the extremes, also often the not-first authors are just colleagues who came with useful comments or wrote part of the methodogies or stuff. More often, these last ones are mentioned under acknowledgments, but sometimes figure as co-authors. An alphabetical way of grouping, I think, is always leading to trouble and bad feelings. Where you see that more than 20 authors figure in the list, many might not even recognize the publication as theirs. Lamentably, this is more and more the case, however, not in my time, oh no. Not yet!!

    • E. Olson says

      Great comment Phil, and I might add one other dimension that would explain performance differences: competitiveness. Men are much more competitive than women, and even with equal ability you would expect more men to have a desire to “be the best” in their field than women. Thus you would also expect more men than women to devote 70+ hour weeks to doing research and publishing in top journals, and seeking to collaborate with top people in the field to raise their profile and publishing chances even further than women.

      Now add in one other moderating variable: victimization. If highly driven men (especially white or Asian) with high IQ realize that schools, research labs, grant providing agencies, etc. are actively favoring scientists and projects featuring women and other “victim” members, they will quickly realize they need to be “twice as good” to get the schools, jobs, tenure, grants, and research collaborations they desire, and therefore be motivated to work even harder. On the other hand, high IQ women (or other “victim” minorities) will soon realize that they only need to be “half as good” in order to get scholarships, prestigious jobs, tenure, and grants. Women and other “victims” will also find that highly skilled and prestigious male scholars will be falling all over themselves to invite them onto their research teams and projects, because they know the inclusion of a “victim” will increase their chances of getting a grant or award (and pat on the back from administrators looking for more diversity). And while peer review is supposedly “blind”, it seems highly likely that research papers with “victim” co-authors are likely to receive more favorable treatment from editors (who do know the authors and want to demonstrate more “diversity” in their journal), and hence more likely to get published in prestigious journals. Thus the curse of “victimization” is that non-victim competitors will be working extra hard, victims will have less motivation to work hard, but may have their lower motivation and perhaps ability compensated for by getting better resources and invitations because of their “victim” status rather than ability and effort.

      Thus higher ability variability, greater competitiveness, lack of “victim” status, and differences in interest likely explain almost all the achievement gaps in high end professions and positions.

    • Chad Chen says

      Richard Feynman famously had an IQ of “only” 125. Ruchard Shockley also had a relatively low IQ when tested. Your armchair generalizations do not provide satisfactory explanations in this case.

      • gush says

        125 isn’t an “only”.
        But there will always outliers in biology.

    • Peter Todd Williams says

      Nice comment. At the end, I think we have re-discovered something that is deep in our genes going back aeons: the taboo.

      Everything you are saying is true, but the truth is irrelevant. The Truth is Taboo.

  15. I agree with a post I read a few days ago. We absolutely need more women in Sewerage Treatment and Effluent Management.

  16. A C Harper says

    Whenever I read an assertion like “Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics?” I like to recast it along the lines of “Why do our presuppositions about women in physics not match the real world?”. Sexual discrimination may still occur but probably won’t be the main cause.

    Similarly if you can’t say what the numbers of women (or men) should be in the absence of inappropriate discrimination then you don’t know what to look for. And if you don’t know what the numbers should be then anyone can make up a story to pander to their presuppositions.

    • dirk says

      That’s a good one, Harper, SHOULD BE. Maybe, we should change the Bill of Rights from All men are created equal into All men should be equal. Statistics and quota don’t help here so much, just change the Bills, Declarations and Manifests.

      • ianl says

        A low-level, sarcastic straw man.

        Women are “underepresented” in the hard science of maths, physics, chemistry and to a lesser extent geology because they prefer other areas of endeavour. This preference is based on their affinity for managing emotional issues with both required technical knowledge and real interest.

        Those men who create in these hard science areas prefer to concentrate on content and let feelings fallow.

        There is no judgement in this comment. Enacting Bills, Declarations, blah and blah does not alter it.

        • dirk says

          The point here is, of course, astrophysics (and math, other hard science) is considered as SUPERIOR, intellectually of higher standards, than, e.g., social sciences. law, education and the humanities. And gender superiority and hierarchy, oh oh oh, is a hot iron these days (say, the last 100 yrs, before that time scarcely at all). That’s why nobody will come up with the low percentages of women as fishermen or sewerage responsibles.

  17. Tracey Lewis says

    Very brave paper. As a woman with an MD (ophthalmologist)and a PhD in Engineering, I chose to pursue medicine as opposed to engineering. I veered away from orthopedic surgery because it was a field I felt to be dissociated from direct patient care as most of the time was spent with mechanical gadgets in the OR. I chose my paths based upon my inherent empathy and a need to nurture. I was top in my class in both engineering and medical school. I agree with you and your assessment that the choices are inherent to female preference and not discrimination. Completely agree.

    • gush says

      Ophtalmologist engineer, that’s something one doesn’t hear very often but makes 100% sense.
      Some of your lenses just talk, that’s it. lol! That’s probably the most re-comforting and most annoying part of your job.
      Actually, I stand corrected, the most annoying part of your job are lenses that should talk but don’t.

  18. dirk says

    Anecdote: on a congress on land and food in the 1980s on our university, the head of department of soil sciences announced that on his department, there were now already 3 women assigned with a fixed job, doing a good job. I remember my astonishment, what did he mean by that? What had this announcing to do with the progress or achievements in soil science , education or teaching abilities? He could as well have mentioned that the department had now 2 more cupboards for the utensils and lab instruments.

    It was only years later that I understood his motivation and pride. Gender and sexism was not yet a subject at the time as a sign of progress, discussion or statistics (for me at least) though maybe at a subconscious level, yes, who knows.

  19. Somewoman says

    Many people have written that the greater preponderance of women in stem in Iran and India indicates that greater freedom and opportunity means women will be less likely to choose stem. The alternative hypothesis is not considered. There actually appear to be notable and large difference is cognitive skill distribution across different ethnicities. East Asian women are known to be different than caucasians in that their quant abilities are higher than their own verbal abilities, and consequently they are much more common in stem fields.

    We don’t really know much about the cognitive profiles of Iranian and Indian women, but it’s probably not the same as a European white woman.

    • dirk says

      What about Sovjet women in STEM, somewoman?? I never read statistics on it. Anyhow, I wouldn’t know any famous Sovjet scientist, but many male Sovjet scientific heroes ( Chayanov, Lysenko, Svavilov). And, why, BTW, was the first man to send in the stratosphere, that Gagarin, a man? Patriarchal structure, I think it was, after all. A female Stalin also I can scarcely imagine, better not!

      • dirk says

        any famous Sovjet female scientist, of course I meant. But there must have been some, with so many educated women there and then??

  20. GregS says

    Most academics are liberals. In some institutions, all academics are liberals.

    Does that mean conservatives lack the right mental stuff to be an academic? Does it mean that conservatives are discriminated against? Some are, but is that really the problem?

    Or is it simply that conservatives see most academics as liberals and think, why bother?

    Could the same thing be happening to women in physics?

    Could this whole tempest in a tea pot be nothing more than a selection problem? People like to hang out with their own, who wants to go deeply into debt, work their ass off, and gamble against the odd, merely to become the black swan?

    • higgsbosoff says

      Conservativism is, by definition, about wanting to perpetuate the status quo as “good enough”. It requires that you hang onto established tradition and habits, possibly out of a rational justification, but more often than not out of familiarity and a gut-level suspicion of the new and unknown.

      You don’t go far into the sciences or philosophy if you’r suspicious of the new and unknown. You need to constantly open your mind to new concepts and train it to accept them readily. You can’t stay still, you need to upend established paradigms all the time. You have to accept that appearances can be deceptive, and that if your expectations are at odds with reality, the expectations have to go. That means, basically, you have to be less hung up on your assumptions, and see things as more relative. Hence, you either go in with a reformist mindset already, or it’s highly likely you’ll develop one, which is the natural application of that kind of mindset to your political opinions.

  21. Anonymous says

    It is astounding that physicists – whom I mistakenly believed were the most rational and hardcore of all scientists ( with the possible exception of mathematicians ) are allowing the MOST IRRATIONAL people on the planet – namely social justice warriors – to take over their organizations.

    Well, did not one of history’s top physicists – Werner Heisenberg – agree to build an atomic bomb for Adolf Hitler ?

    • Anon says

      Heisenberg tried remaining out of politics, but in that period this choice turned out to be impossible. By the way, in the same period Lise Meitner had to escape Germany because she was Jew, and she lost the Nobel-prize discovery that lead to the atomic bomb. Today some physicists (like ParticleForJustice) tell that she lost a Nobel prize because she was female…

    • higgsbosoff says

      “Well, did not one of history’s top physicists – Werner Heisenberg – agree to build an atomic bomb for Adolf Hitler?”

      I don’t think that has much to do with rationality or lack thereof. That is if anything an old vice of ours – “come hell or high water, just give me the chance to do my work and I won’t ask questions about what it’s used for”. It’s entirely rational, you just need to not give a fuck about anything going on outside your lab.

  22. B Nelson says

    No. If women are under-represented, it is by their choice. Stop acting the victim and blaming men.

  23. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? – Hckr News

  24. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? – Outside The Know

  25. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? – Golden News

  26. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? – News about world

  27. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? – World Best News

  28. Pingback: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? – INDIA NEWS

  29. Acumentate Hispid says

    People pursue what interests them. People rise to their levels of incompetence. Demanding that a saluki and a dachshund are equally adept at running and digging out groundhogs is not madness – it is corruption.

    Privileged elevation despite demonstrated incompetence validates “mediocrity is a vice of the doomed.” Consider Human Resources. the trash bin of mandatory diversity hiring.

    • dirk says

      I know what hedgehogs are, but what, the hell can groundhogs be? An existing animal? Or something else? In fact, I also have no idea what a saluki can be, kind of dog?? What corruption is I know, poor Alan Garcia, was he guilty??

      • Lightning Rose says

        Sure could use a good groundhog-dawg around here. Fat ugly buggers are breeding . . .

        • dirk says

          Now that dawg again, many unknown american things for me on Q. In the meantime found out that groundhogs are marmots, ours from the Alps are called Murmeltier. But am proceeding in US vernaculars, thanks to Q.

  30. Pingback: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? – Hacker News Robot

  31. anonymous (or I might loose my job) says

    I’m a woman working at CERN, and agree with Strumia. More generally, I think that weak and easily offended women are ruining it for the rest of us exactly by supporting all the stereotypes with their irrational outrage.

  32. OLd NiK says

    The cowards who crawl on their bellies at the first hint of feminist disapproval are also the ones who will loudly proclaim their defence of ‘merit’ once the paymasters change. Watch ‘The Death Of Stalin’ to see what kind of comical grovelling will be witnessed.

  33. Pingback: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? written by Alessandro Strumia | RUTHFULLY YOURS

  34. Sean Leith says

    The answer is simple: they are just not as smart. I will leave you to say it different way.

    • Reid says

      Many are just as smart, or smarter. But many have different interests than guys.

  35. GIGO.

    Why are women under-represented in garbage collectors?

    Why are women under-represented in the construction industry?

    Why are women over-represented in the nursing field?

    Why are women under-represented in the law enforcement industry?

    Why are women over-represented in the veterinary industry?

    Why are women over-represented in the teaching profession?

    Why are women over-represented as wait-staff?

    Why are men over-represented in logging?

    It’s almost like you will never achieve perfect statistical representation in any industry because men and women have differences in interest.

  36. Reid says

    What idiots/ax-grinders write this stuff? Women are from Venus, men from Mars. When will this sink in? I like math and numbers — women don’t like math and numbers. Just let us be. I worked in Aerospace for 40 years — had some some women engineers come in over the last 10 or so. I never witnessed any mistreatment. Although, privately, some men were annoyed by parental leave. The leavers were not replaced because of headcount restrictions — so guys and other women had to fill in the blanks.

  37. Chad Chen says

    What we have on this thread are the usual suspects engaging in static (ahistorucal) analyses that explain current (but not necessarily oermanent) occupational distributions in terms of disputed (and empirically untested) theories.

    For these people, everything is about IQ, or more ge nerally, “cognitive ability”. They don’t seem to notice that we have little reliable data on the IQ scores of the educated population. What are the IQ scores of Americans with engineering, physics or math degrees? We don’t know. What are the minimum cognitive and non-cognitive abilities required for professional success in these fields? We don’t know

    But the IQ priests are spouting armchair speculations about the alleged deficiencies of women. These speculations are completely unproven “ideological” positions, however “plausible” they may seem to the priesthood.

    Incidentally, it bears repeating that “IQ” correlates weakly with many kinds of achievement. The coefficients are always below 0.5, which means that “IQ” fails to account for most of the variation in the measures of achievement it is supposed to explain.

    • Peter Kriens says

      We do have information about occupations and IQ1 and the clearly show that STEM is pretty high. We also know, likely due to the greater male variation hypotheses that males are quite far overrepresented in the high end of math and spatial capabilities. Males have consistently scored ~30/500 points higher on the SAT scores for Math. (And surprisingly virtually equal on reading.)2.

      IQ tests are calibrated to give an average 100 for both the female and male population. I.e. if a boys get a higher IQ than the tests gets less or different math questions that favor girls, or vice versa. So the average is a given. However, the variation differs a bit. More dumb men at the bottom which then implies more smart men at the top. There is no clear explanation but it might be related that since males have only one X chromosome where the intelligence genes are expected to reside they will vary more.

      There is also the issue that at the age where most IQ tests or related tests are done boys mature later. It is likely that we should add a few points to the male IQ which some statistics seem to agree with. However, this is controversial.

      Notice that even a tiny difference in the variation makes a huge difference at the tails. I.e. if you pick a random woman and a random men, the chance is 40% the woman is more aggressive than the men. (A trait with a large difference between the sexes.) However, if you take the 100 most aggressive people there is likely no woman in that group.

      Last, IQ and conscientiousness are the best predictor for success in life, so IQ is one of the great successes of psychology.

      However.

      I think the primary argument is a pipeline argument, I do not see a lot of people argue that women are not intelligent enough for physics. Clearly, there are always candidates and something like law or medicine also requires very high IQs to excel and women nowadays dominate those fields. So why are there so few women working in STEM?

      Clearly it starts with the women selecting, there are just fewer women interested in this area. An extremely popular occupation for women in the software industry is nowadays jobs to promote women in computing … If there is one thing consistent in all data it is that women are on average more interested in working with people than with things. In my industry, women tend to drift from developing software to product marketing, scrum master, etc. all work that requires interacting with people.

      That all said. What other explanation is there. Maybe IQ has a low correlation coefficient (0.5 is actually quite high for psychology) but it has become quite clear that the implicit bias explanations are pure nonsense and there are obviously no over sexist barriers. On the contrary, I cannot visit a company or there is some girls program. Research shows that in software girls have at minimum twice the chance to get hired with the same CV. Show me a woman that has sufficient skills in software and I will show you an employed person.

      • Chad Chen says

        You are simply talking past me. Repeating the same claims about a larger pool of high -IQ men.

        We do not have reliable data on the actual IQ scores of Americans with physics, math and chemistry degrees. (In fact very few Americans have been rigorously tested. Online tests are notoriously unreliable).

        We do not know what the minimum IQ requirements are for post-secondary physics, math and chemistry, and in any case these likely change over time as textbooks snd teaching methods improve.

        It is therefore absurd to argue that there aren’t very many women with the cognitive ability to handle these courses if you don’t know what it takes. Suppose MOST physics and engineering students actually turn out to have IQs of 115 or less, then the larger pool of high-IQ men becomes a minor factor in any explanation of gender disparities.

    • D-Rex says

      Chad, what you say makes sense. Chances are that some Nobel prize winners had above average but not astronomical IQ’s but were just good at science and luckily discovered something profound(see Watson and Crick). There is a difference between discovering something through hard work and inventing something completely new such as Einstein’s general relativity.
      Recognition tends to come from the spectacular, so I posit that there are many very high IQ scientists that nobody will ever hear about because their discoveries aren’t spectacular enough.

  38. V 2.0 says

    Your first mistake was thinking you could change the minds of the True Believers with science and rational arguments. Have you been living in a cave for the last 5 -10 years?
    I’m curious about why we (women) can’t just take what we want since we are over half the population. Where did this male privilege come from. Were they handing our patriarchies at some point in our evolutionary history and we showed up too late because we were trying to decide which cute shoes to wear?
    CERN has no business debating anything but actual physics.

  39. mirrormere says

    Since math and science are tools of the oppressors, the data showing that women are underrepresented in physics must be false. Therefore, there is no sex discrimination in physics.

  40. Pingback: Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics? | WWE- World Wide Experts

  41. Absolute Unit says

    I graduated with my BS in Physics this past December and am currently trying to choose between an industry-geared Master’s and a PhD in Planetary Science. I am hesitant to take the PhD position and pursue academia in part because of this issue. It’s not the only reason, but it’s definitely one of them.

  42. Rob says

    “My expectation is that this political movement will fade away in a decade or so. We can only hope.”

    Why would you expect that? Based on what evidence? I see the SJW / feminist agenda as being ascendant, particularly in academia. As you noted in your essay, the men in academe like men in general, retreat in the face of female demands. There is no reason to be optimistic. Whatever you may know about physics, which is a great deal, you should realize that optimism is not a strategy.

    Part of me wants to feel sorry for you guys. All so very clever but you can’t imagine a solution to a problem that falls outside your toolkit. And even when some of you, (and Jordan Peterson, Larry Summers, etc), stick your heads above the parapet your academic colleagues cheerfully throw you under the bus to advance their own careers. Quite a few of them would like to virtue signal to their feminist overlords to advance their own careers by making sure you go up in flames. In spite of all your evidence, all your knowledge, no matter how much thought you put into your essays you all fail. You’ve reached the boundary of reason. Arguments don’t work on the ideological or the religious.

    Lawrence Summers, removed from his job as President of Harvard University.
    Jordan Peterson, almost fired from University of Toronto.
    Rick Mehta fired from Acadia.
    Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying suffered epic levels of harassment forcing them to resign.
    Suzanne Steinmetz (who co-authored ‘Behind Closed Doors’ revealing gender parity in domestic violence), received bomb threats….

    Now the above is a small sample of high profile academics who dared to challenge feminist orthodoxy. They were all reasonable people too. Their statements were backed by solid arguments and studies too. While you understand the forces you are up against you still indulge in some childish hope that things will get better… why??

    The feminists and SJWs won’t change their tactics… they work all too well! The author of the essay said he didn’t sue CERN… why? I’ll guess because like most men it’s easier to just suck up the abuse and hope it gets better.

    lI suggest two things… firstly there is no reason to assume anything will improve. Nope. I anticipate they will get far worse. Secondly, staying the course of your current strategy isn’t going to work. The way academe is going you will all soon be bending the knee and kissing the ring finger.

    • Why? It’s people, not judges, who can keep ageing institutions good. By leaving CERN I am more free of writing the present text.

      About the bigger cultural problem, I see that it’s being addressed now. Despite that some media and institutions got politicised by an aggressive minority, things are changing

      • Rob says

        Indeed Professor, it is people who build institutions. It’s also people who destroy them.

        Writing is a powerful tool for organizing one’s own thoughts. It’s ancient, it’s beautiful but in our busy semi-literate society it has limited reach. I’d like to suggest you put your essay into podcasts or do YouTube the way Jordan Peterson and others have done. It will give you a much wider audience. You could also do interviews with people like Dave Rubin. Note that your writing and your views will put cross hairs on you… if you think that being technically right in your argumentation is going to protect you then you are naive. You think you are in the realm of truth, in reality you are in the realm of politics. The universities across the Western world have been turned into Madrassas of the politically correct and you are at ground zero.

        I think Pericles put it best.. “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

        And don’t get me wrong, I loved your essay! Please write more and I’d love to see you on YouTube.

  43. Louis Chapman says

    Why are women under-represented in roofing? Plumbing? Garbage collection?

  44. Peter from Oz says

    Surely the answer to the question why are women underrepresented in physics, is to point out that women are not underrepresented at all. The simple fact is that a person does not, in entering into any profession or calling other than politics, represent any sex or any other group.
    The left has tried to introduce the language of politics to forward its own bizarre ideas of equality. It seems that they believe that somehow every woman scientist represents all women who can then be proud of themselves because someone with two Y chromosomes works in a prestigious field.
    Never mind that the whole idea of science is to discover truth and expand knowledge. The view of the regressive left is that such discoveries will occur no matter who is tasked with making them, as there is a cadre of people out there who have the necessary skills. But what is important is making sure that the people who make the discoveries “represent” all the groups of society, because somehow that will make the discoveries more legitimate.
    This kind of stupid thinking needs to be challenged.
    I hate to say this but I think it’s time the sane people start shaming the hard left and call them out for being evil arseholes. I know we will be exaggerating the nastiness of these SJW wankers, but I think we have to fight fire with fire. We need to make it a bigger social crime to deny free speech and common sense than it is to discriminate against people for their sex, race or other innate characteristics.
    The committee of CERN must be sacked forthwith and all those who tried to silence proper research and mainstream opinions on the differences between men and women should be made to apologise in public or forced to leave the organisation.
    I realise that we would to some extent then adopt the negativity of our adversaries, but free speech is too important to be left to atrophy because of the actions of a few loud lefties.
    Sinistra delenda est

    • dirk says

      Agree Peter, but fear you are one battlefield too far ahead, first this one, then maybe in 5 yrs the next one. All goes one by one these days. In the modern West now (I think only there) it is all EQUALITY what the banners shout (without anybody realising what it means actually, not really necessary also).

    • Peter Kriens says

      Two XX chromosomes is what you intended I think …

    • ianl says

      1) >” … sane people start shaming the hard left and call them out for being evil arseholes”

      how to do this exactly, please ? Useful, practical suggestions are looked for.

      2) >”The committee of CERN must be sacked forthwith …”

      how to do this exactly, please ? Useful, practical suggestions are looked for.

      3) >” … free speech is too important to be left to atrophy because of the actions of a few loud lefties”

      how to do this exactly, please ? Useful, practical suggestions are looked for.

      All of this seems to me a reprise of Brecht: “The people got it wrong. They must be dismissed and a new people appointed immediately”

      Without control of the public megaphone (ie. the MSM), these things cannot be done merely by deciding that you want to.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Ian
        How do you think that the regressive left became influential in the first place? It was by taking extreme positions and normalising them through years of repetition mad through constant nagging. Very few people actually believe in the rubbish the regressive left spouts, but they just don’t have the nerdy or the time to fight the regressive propaganda.
        I suggest you try out the method sometime. It is simple, you take offence at everything and constantly change the subject back to what you think is important. Other people want to talk about the rugby results on Sunday? You then make a point of saying how sexist rugby is and how talk of it in the workplace disadvantages women. You do this in a very rude tone and personally insult anyone who disagrees with you. This will actually win you respect and soon you will see the employer sending around emails saying that talk of ruby in the workplace should be banned, because it goes against the company’s policy of inclusiveness and diversity. And of course a lot of people in the workplace either just want to keep the peace or see a way in which they can gain power. They will therefore support this ban on talking about rugby.
        Well if they can do it, why can’t we on the right do the same thing, and get these agitators banned or scorned simply by being rude to them when they try to be rude to us.
        The most heinous social crime should be the attempt to limit the freedom of speech of others. Racism, sexism, homowahteveria are nowhere near as heinous as suppressing the views of others without argument. Anyone who tries suppress the speech or views of others on the grounds of bigotry should be forced to tamale an argument why the speech or opinion is wrong. It’s not enough to say “it’s racist”. For it could racist but still true.
        “Australia” would have no problem with racism if they were few migrants from non European countries” is a racist statement, but it is also true.

  45. Real Talk that people don't want to deal with (please allow my comment) says

    That is, why are there so few women in the hard STEM fields that involve high-level mathematical and spatial-visual cognitive ability?

    The Cultural Left, the Liberals and even some Conservatives have offered various explanations for this, but most of their theories are false or feeble, and some on the Cultural Left are basically unhinged conspiracy theories.

    As it happens, there is a straight-forward scientific explanation, and backed up by a mountain of scientific evidence.

    Unfortunately, it requires looking at the nature of IQ, or intelligence, in men and women, and, of course, this causes bilious, almost deranged howls of outrage in our culture, mostly from the Left.

    But, if you bear with me, you can understand in this post what the vast majority of people don’t understand (and even refuse to understand or believe if they are told the truth).

    The explanation is as follows:

    (1) Culturally unbiased, fair IQ tests measure a person’s general faculty of intelligence, or what is now called Spearman’s g (general intelligence), which is clearly a unified, single cognitive trait of human beings. It appears that IQ (which measures general intelligence) is about 70–85% heritable in adults. The heritability of IQ rises with age, so that by the time one is an adult perhaps as much as 80% of IQ is heritable (Plomin and Spinath 2004; Plomin and Deary 2015). Even the liberal/leftist American Psychological Association (APA) admits the overwhelming evidence for this (see Neisser et al. 1996: 96, which accepts the 0.75 figure), and the democratic socialist James R. Flynn (after whom the “Flynn Effect” is named) – the leading environmentalist on gaps in IQ between population groups – himself accepts that current evidence shows that the heritability of IQ in adults is probably about 0.75 (Dickens and Flynn 2001: 346).

    (2) When the IQs of a representative sample of men and women are plotted on a graph, it has been discovered that the distribution of IQs is not the same. The IQ scores of women tend to cluster around the average (with less distribution in upper and lower ranges), while male IQs tend to be distributed less around the average and more in the upper and lower ranges as compared with the IQ distribution of women (see Hedges and Nowell 1995; Lubs 1999; Roberts 1945; Deary et al. 2007).

    The average IQ for European people is about 100. So, for example, more European women have IQs that tend to cluster around 100 than the IQs of men do. This means that, numerically, there are far more high IQ men than there are women (also, it means there are far more low IQ men than there are women). Furthermore, it means that, numerically, there are fewer men of about average IQ than there are women.

    (3) in addition, there is probably a small difference between the average IQ of men as compared with that of women (Lubs 1999; Johnson and Bouchard 2007; Nyborg 2005). Men appear to have a slightly higher average IQ, with about a 3–5 point advantage over women – though, admittedly, that is not large. It is still correct to say that the average IQs of men and women are not greatly different.

    (4) by examining the sub-tests of IQ tests, we have discovered that – in terms of sub-tests and specific cognitive abilities – men and women also differ. Women tend, on average, to be much better at verbal abilities and language, but men tend on average to outperform women on numerical/mathematical and spatial cognitive abilities (Neisser et al. 1996; Wechsler 1958: 144–149; Lubs 1999; Johnson and Bouchard 2007; Johnson et al. 2008; Halpern et al. 2007).

    The fact that the intergenerational Flynn effect – which has been working for about a hundred years – hasn’t eliminated these IQ differences between men and women should alert us to the truth that the differences are mostly genetic, not environmental.

    So why are there so few women in the sciences?

    First, science requires a high IQ. But the IQs of women tend to cluster around the mean of 100. Because many more men have IQs well above 100 than women, numerically there are not enough women to compete with men in the sciences. The slightly higher average IQ of men also contributes to this.

    Secondly, science also requires a high level of mathematical and visual-spatial cognitive abilities, and here on average men outperform women.

    Thirdly, science tends to attract human beings with an interest and ability in mathematics, spatio-visual abilities, and propensity to do abstract, impersonal work, which is much less focused on human beings, or on social/verbal interaction between human beings. There are also general psychological and behavior differences between men and women that affect each gender’s educational choices and career choices. Women are better at verbal/language abilities, and have a general propensity to choose professions where they can use those abilities. Thus the hard sciences appeal to men far more than to women. Therefore, generally speaking, even high IQ women tend not to be interested in the hard sciences.

    When women do go into the sciences, it tends to be in biology or medicine, where they can use their superior verbal skills, while women tend to avoid other STEM fields that require a more intense mathematical and spatial cognitive ability.

    By contrast, men excel at physics, chemistry and engineering, where greater numerical and spatial cognitive abilities are required (see Johnson et al. 2004).

    The reality of few women in the hard sciences, then, has a mainly biological explanation, which is grounded in genetics and Darwinian evolution. In short, it is explained by the biological and genetic differences between men and women.

    This is precisely why not only in the past but also to this day modern Western science and scientific discovery is driven mostly by high-IQ men, not women.

    Of course, this biological explanation does not rule out influences from culture, institutional factors, discrimination, and government policy either. But these are likely to be minor or even trivial factors, while the major factor is biology.

    Crucially, while none of this necessarily rules out the moral case for equality of opportunity for women, it totally destroys the feminist aim of total gender equality of outcome in all employment, professions and intellectual life. Moreover, it follows logically that the conventional explanation for the failure of women to attain a 50% presence in all higher professions because of some evil institutional gender discrimination and sexism in Western societies is manifestly absurd.

    And nobody scientifically literate even in a layman’s sense should be surprised by any of this.

    There are also other significant biological differences between men and women, as follows:

    (1) on average, men are taller than women;

    (2) on average, men have greater upper and lower body strength (with greater muscle mass, thicker tendons, and greater bone density) than women;

    (3) on average, oxygen is better circulated around the male body because of higher haemoglobin levels so that, physiologically, men are better at physical activity than women;

    (4) on average, men have greater stamina (with higher levels of anabolic steroids);

    (5) on average, men have greater maximal oxygen uptake capacity than women;

    (6) on average, men are more competitive (because of higher levels of testosterone) and more aggressive than women.

    This is also why women, on average, simply cannot work at certain jobs that require hard, strenuous, extended physical labor in the way that men can.

    Once again, these facts of human social life are explained largely by biology and genetics.

    But try saying this in public, or in academia, or in the media. The response will be a hysterical, vicious, witch-hunting wave of public abuse, persecution and, if the person in question is of high-profile or status, probably the ruin of that person’s career.

    This is how anti-scientific and insane our civilization has become. The fault lies mostly with the Cultural Left and feminists too. But the mainstream Conservatives aren’t any better either.

    Modern conservatives – who are rightly derided as “Cuckservatives” (from “cuckold conservatives”) by their own enemies on the right – are so useless that they cannot even defend basic scientific truths about the biological differences between men and women.

    • Chad Chen says

      Men dominated law, medicine and accounting. Until they didn’t.

      Men currently dominate physics, chemistry, math and engineering.
      Until they won’t.

      • Face reality Chen. says

        Women are good at tasks that require high verbal skills; spatial reasoning and mathematical thinking, not so much. You’ll never see a women run a sub 10 second 100 meter dash, unless it’s a man identifying as a women, and you’ll never see a female Einstein for similar reasons.

      • Peter from Oz says

        But Chad, why is it taking 40 years longer for men to lose their dominant status in physics, etc, as opposed to law and medicine, especially when there has been a concerted push by the powers that be to dismantle that dominance. In medicine and law women made it without much of a need for the application of positive discrimination. But in STEM that hasn’t been the case.
        I don’t suppose that there is really anybody who wants women to be held back. But the question is whether, all things being equal, it would be expected that all STEM fields would include men and women in equal numbers. There is no way of proving that. The evidence would seem to be that there are more men in this field, because of factors that have nothing to do with sexism.
        But as I said, no one really objects to the entry of more women into STEM. But most people would like to see the female entrants added to the male entrants, and not substituted for some of them. The idea that a capable man loses out to an equally capable woman because it’s somehow better to have more women in STEM is the height of evil.

    • dirk says

      Why do you need so many words to make your point, real talk, I,m not going to read all that, sorry, and I wonder how it is with others here.

      • D-Rex says

        I read it Dirk, but then I read all of the comments here, even the stupid ones.

    • Geoge Tyrebyter says

      This is all irrelevant. We are not talking about the middle of the distribution. We are talking about the .5% at the far right side. For every woman, there are 20 men at that point.

  46. Sarah Allsop says

    As a female physicist, I have to add a few real-life comments to this question of women in STEM. I did my first degree in Physics in the UK in the 1980s. I never encountered any discrimination, anyone dissuading me from my chosen course, or any lack of opportunity from being female – only one professor – an elderly Eastern European man – who ignored me because (I think) he did not know how to interact with women. And remember that was back in the 1980s. Nowadays, the colleges are falling over themselves to get women into STEM. My daughter has been to several open days for “Women in science, Girls in Computing, etc” Her twin brother? Nothing, no encouragement for him whatsoever.
    But the bigger point I want to make is that (and I’m going to upset any feminists here), it is clear to anyone who has worked in the hard sciences, that ON AVERAGE, women’s brains are wired differently from men’s and they are not as suited and not as interested in these subjects as men. The female physicists I know are outliers among women. They are definitely as good at what they do as their male colleagues but there are just not many of them. You can’t soften physics; you can’t make it more subjective or less analytical without ruining it. This whole debate makes me sad about the fate of our civilization, and the future we are bequeathing our children.

    • ms100 says

      Feminists are trying to soften physics and other fields. There was an article I read about two women who received physics degrees but weren’t interested in research. They felt that they deserved tenure because they wanted to only teach. I’ve seen a similar case in mathematics involving a black woman. No research papers but wanted white men to get out of her way. This seems like such an arrogant entitlement. The current academic system involves research and publish/perish mode. This benefits both science and society. Adding tenured teaching only positions would certainly boost diversity but at the risk of mass mediocrity. This nonsense is gaining traction.

    • mike87122 says

      I second your last sentence. I despair for the future.

    • Irrational Actor says

      Thanks for speaking up Sarah. I have heard from other female scientists with very similar experiences to yours. But unfortunately with the Sean Carrolls of the world and their ideological organisations like the tragically-named Particles For Justice your voices will be squashed.

      I too very much share your fears….

  47. ccscientist says

    The two fields where IQ rules are mathematics and physics. You need to be brilliant to succeed in these fields. But also, in my experience, scientists in these two fields are way way out on the “things vs people” dimension. I am a scientist but I find mathematicians and physicists remote and android-like and WAY smarter than me. Very few women fit the mold in terms of personality or IQ.
    “scientific quality is a gender social construction,” I find this idea simply insane. Scientific quality is completely neutral. You can submit math or science papers to a journal using only your first initial and last name so no one knows your sex. Women can do perfectly good scientific research.

  48. Pingback: Gender Differences for the Lazy/Busy – Struggles In Physics

  49. dirk says

    -Scientific quality is completely neutral- sounds like -all animals are equal-. Are they? Or is it- They should be-? And of course, women can do perfectly good scientific research, because, that’s all too easy. Counting birds somewhere , noting down how many in some year, and philosophying on the reasons why that year less or more (based on a systematic literature review on the subject) is perfectly good scientific research. We need more of it, instead of strange, coloured in (=fake) pictures, or near pictures, of black holes.

    • Irrational Actor says

      I wonder, Dirk, what you think about the Ligo gravitational wave detections?

      • dirk says

        I’m just an agronomist, I.A. so like to stay at home, on our planet. But what I read about the picture, was that these were not the real colors, but false ones, like you see sometimes in infrared pictures (animals or men orange-red, in the snow or somewhere, whereas it’s just a white polar fox or a soldier in white clothes. There are many ways to fool simple citizens, these are some of them. I’m fooled all my life, so no more surprises for me.

  50. Saul Back at You says

    I love the careful data-driven reasoning and the logical analyses in the article and in the comments. But it changes very little. Most of this is well known and understood by honest and intelligent and well-informed people.

    The obstacle we face: the irrational but well-organized bullies who terrorize university administrators and leaders of professional organizations and executives of corporations. They make very effective threats. They also operate out of an absolute, almost religious commitment to an ideology: Disparities/inequalities can be explained ONLY by discrimination. Men and women are radically the same and any significant differences in abilities or preferences are a result of oppressive social structures and pressures. Evolutionary biology, psychology, neuroscience, or any other purported science that conflicts with these principles must be rejected. Any means necessary are appropriate to achieve goals of absolute equality and social symmetry. It is necessary to develop powerful internal forces in institutions to force this ideology onto leadership. Only serious threats to the well-being of institutions will achieve the goal, falsely called “social justice.”

    It’s hard to believe that Sundar Pichai really believed what he said about Damore. He’s not really that stupid. It’s much more likely that well-organized internal forces threatened the functioning (bottom line) of Google and forced Damore out. There are now powerful forces inside universities and professional organizations and corporations who have the bureaucratic and social power to force leadership to dismiss or discipline anyone who questions this ideology. The examples are all around us.

    If honest scholars and researchers do not organize to fight back, the fight will be lost. The social justice extremists will not be swayed by evidence or reasoning. They don’t even believe in it. They believe in power. And they act accordingly.

    • Irrational Actor says

      I agree entirely Saul. But I am not optimistic they will fight back. Not in numbers sufficient to make a real impact anyway.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Well said, Saul.
      You adumbrate the true weakness of the critical theory that so much SJW thinking is based upon. They tell us that there is no objective truth, so that our moral philosophy cannot therefore be right. But then they act as if their own political philosophy is an objective truth.
      If there is no such thing as objective truth, then the idea that there is no objective truth itself cannot be true either, because it is a statement that it’s proponents assume to be an objective fact.
      So SJW thinking is not truth, based on their own philosophy. It must therefore be a naked power grab, which relies on the sense of truth of non SJWs to get any traction. We must therefore turn the tables on these people and say, no we aren’t going to allow victim groups to have any power, because they only want to oppress us when they get such power. If anyone is going to be in a superior position it may as well be we on the right, ie the mass of apolitical people who lust want to get on with life without constant politicking.

  51. Geoge Tyrebyter says

    Equality of opportunity is not the same as equality of outcome.

    In high school, in 1966-1970, if you did science, you did biology-chemistry-physics. Biology was required. Chem and physics were not. In my biology class, sex was 50:50. In the physics class, it was 9M:1F. The women did not take the math. And there was NO forbidding of women. That is absolute garbage.

    It’s testosterone. Women are not doing high-level math for that reason. Yes, they can program. I’ve hired many women for statistical programming. They are fine at that. But not at conceptual math, because women have lower abilities at spatial reasoning.

  52. Progressives think the light at the end of the tunnel means enlightenment. They willfully ignore the enveloping roar that signals oncoming train. Unfortunately, being the pedestrian academics that most of them are, their only hope for status within the academy is political rather than academic. They are insecure little people seeking acceptance and leadership, and, they find that acceptance among the impressionable minds of the student body rather than among more accomplished colleagues. They might get you an “A” if you are not so bright, but, they won’t get you to the moon and back. The moonshot will always be the preserve of the truly bright, regardless of gender, race, or creed.

  53. Peter Todd Williams says

    Shocking and telling that your article wasn’t allowed on arxiv. That is a huge red flag and a clear ethical violation and goes against everything arxiv is supposed to stand for.

    For people who don’t know – and for the record, I’ve been following arxiv, which used to be known as xxx.lanl.gov, since the mid-90’s. It began as a preprint server. What does that mean? Let’s go back in time to the 80’s. Say you have a paper you’ve submitted to a journal; it’s been accepted, but it takes a while for the paper to come out. That time costs you. It means people don’t know about your work, it means you might get fewer citations, and it may impact your ability to get funding. Back in the day, you would order lots of copies of your paper and send them out through the old-fashioned snail mail to departments, colleagues, etc.

    Efforts at LANL by various ppl (wiki cites Joanne Cohn and Paul Ginzbarg) changed that. They created a central online repository, a revolutionary idea at its time. Anybody could post papers online electronically. No need for mail.

    Initially, the idea was that you shouldn’t post a paper until it had actually been accepted. That gradually changed. For various reasons, people started posting before a paper had been accepted, even before it had been submitted, in some cases. This went against broadly-held scientific standards of ethics at the time, but the irresistible force won out over the unmovable object, and the ethical standards simply shifted.

    Used to be that anybody could post a paper, but as the system grew and became more popular, filters eventually had to be put in place. This had to be done to keep out, e.g., complete nonsense papers the likes of which anybody who’s ever been in a physics department is aware of. Stuff about Joe Blow’s theory of how the universe is actually shaped like a giant burrito. Crackput stuff.

    So now, you either have to have a certain level of credentials, or you have to find someone to sponsor you. But there’s the thing: That’s pretty much about it, as far as standards.

    I’m sure you can find an official list of policies there at arxiv.org, but basically, pretty much, it’s not the sort of place that turns things away. Generally, unless you are promoting total garbage or going on a political rant, your paper passes scrutiny and it’s posted.

    On top of that, all sorts of papers of questionable soundness re the present debate re gender in science have been posted. Too many to mention by name, but worth noting; in short, if someone says that Strumia’s paper was rejected by arxiv b/c it didn’t meet certain quality standards, well, they are spewing complete nonsense. For all practical purposes the “quality standards” of arxiv are pretty close to zero.

    If Strumia can’t get his paper in arxiv, it can only be for one reason: someone at arxiv has a political axe to grind. Choose your metaphor. They shoot the messenger; they run around with their hands over their ears shouting “nya nya nya I can’t hear you.”

    Shocking behavior for a bunch of supposedly intelligent scientists at arxiv, proving once again that having a PhD is no inoculation against joining the idiocy of the mob.

    • Peter Todd Williams says

      Should have pointed this out above: the article states that “My paper with details of my analysis was rejected by arXiv.org, an open access platform, on the basis that it hadn’t been published yet.”

      If Strumia is telling the truth, then there is something very, very fishy, and dangerous, going on at arxiv. The arxiv routinely publishes papers that have not only not been published (indeed that is arguably the entire point of arxiv), it also posts papers that have not been accepted, and even papers that never will be published elsewhere bc the authors never even submit them for peer review. It’s done routinely. As in, pretty much every single day of the work week, M-F. You can check for yourself at arxiv.org.

      The alternative is that it’s Strumia who’s lying here, or at least distorting the truth. I don’t know enough about the case to know whom to trust here; I’m just a partially-informed reader doing my best to pick this apart from a distance. Hey, I’m reading this in-between doing my household chores, ok lol?

      But again, I do want readers to know that if that quote above is correct – that arxiv wouldn’t allow Strumia’s paper bc “it hadn’t been published yet,” – then this is categorical nonsense on the part of arxiv if true, and deeply troubling, and way beyond even selective enforcement with an ulterior motive. It’s definitely not even their policy; not even remotely.

      Cop pulls you over for a broken tail-light. “What broken tail-light,” you say. Cop takes his nightstick and smashes your tail-light. “That broken tail light,” he says, and hands you the ticket. Yep, that bad.

    • On October 10 I sent to arXiv moderation this emai: “I gave a talk about gender and fundamental physics which gave rise to controversy. I write to inquire about the possibility of submitting to your “Physics” category a text that describes details and methodologies of the talk, adding some extra important data, while avoiding polemics, provocations and jokes. Still, my paper might be as controversial as this one https://arxiv.org/pdf/1703.04184.pdf
      which was accepted for publication on referee journals, and later canceled due to protests as described here
      https://quillette.com/2018/09/07/academic-activists-send-a-published-paper-down-the-memory-hole“. I never got a yes/no answer, so one month later I submitted, discovering that in the meantime arXiv had silently revoked my rights to submit to “physics” and “cs” (computer science). Following the arXiv procedure to be followed by new authors, I found people who endorsed me again to submit. But my paper did not appear. One month later, on December 5, I received from arXiv a rejection letter telling: “we will reconsider this decision if your work is published”. Later, I submitted to arXiv a different preprint about bibliometrics with no gender, and arXiv accepted it, this time without asking that it’s first accepted by a journal. This happens in US academia, the country with strong free speech laws.

  54. Peter Todd Williams says

    PS Alessandro, you were quoted by, e.g., Brian Resnick at Vox for saying at a conference: “physics was invented and built by men, it’s not by invitation.”

    The first clause is largely factual (notable exceptions of course, and also true almost entirely for historical reasons, and in particular not true for reasons related to merit or intrinsic ability, but still true nevertheless), but when put this in opposition to the second clause, makes it sound, shall we say, not so good. One could read various meanings into this second part, and without knowing the full context, or what was said before or after these words, it is impossible to judge the passage fairly.

    I don’t find Resnick’s reporting to be unbiased, so I’m curious to learn your side of the story.

    How do you respond? Sincere good-faith question. Your opportunity to explain.

    Apologies if this has already been addressed here or elsewhere.

    • The sentence “Physics invented and built by men, it’s not by invitation” was in a slide with title “Discrimination against women”, and was followed by “Curie etc. welcomed after showing what they can do, got Nobels…”. Journalists who tried to manipulate the meaning of the sentence underestimated the intelligence of their readers who found on internet the slides removed by CERN; they understood the true meaning, and commented outraged at having been deceived.

      Historically, modern physics was invented centuries ago by Galileo, Newton and other men. We know that at that time most people (especially women) did not even have the possibility to study. So men started building the necessary institutions developing a culture based on integrity and scientific merit. Nobody has privileged access, everybody is welcome to try and will be appreciated based on achievements, not based on gender/race/etc. Marie Curie is an example of how successful women have been appreciated in the physics community since many years now. Despite the fact that at the time it was unheard for a woman to even study physics, thanks to her outstanding work she was awarded not one, but two Nobel prizes.

  55. scubajim says

    Excellent article. Sad, but excellent article. In recent news a woman at Microsoft is making Mr. Damore’s point. She is against the policy of upper management getting compensated for hiring more women in the software engineering jobs etc. She is NOT against the hiring of women. You can see if you are compensated to hire on an immutable characteristic then that is what will get hired.

  56. Oldgit says

    “[T]he percentage of women in theoretical physics and STEM is lower in Europe and the U.S. than it is in India or Iran.”

    No surprises here. The more developed and egalitarian the country, the freer biologically determined preferences are to express themselves in human decision making. Women (on average) naturally prefer people-oriented careers; men (on average) naturally prefer thing-oriented careers. This oft-replicated research finding is driving the progressive left INSANE. Ideologically committed to the notion of the blank slate, they simply cannot contemplate the possibility that the imbalance is not due to sexism or a patriarchal conspiracy, but due to human biology. This truth is what got James Damore fired and countless thinkers doxxed, deplatformed, disinvited and dismissed by our self-anointed moral guardians.

  57. Jeremy Ashford says

    It is hardly surprising that the majority of people attending a workshop with “Gender” in the title would reach the same conclusion.

    What is really surprising is that some didn’t.

    • sure, using “gender” instead of “sex” has a meaning in politics. On the other side, the workshop was hosted by a scientific organisation financed by states that protect freedom of research. So there was a realistic hope that workshop was more scientific than political

  58. Dr J Thompson says

    Thank you for this fine article. Similar findings about sex differences in the quantity and number of citations of publications has been reported in Sweden, where of course there have been many steps taken to equalize opportunity for women and men.
    http://www.unz.com/jthompson/womens-brains/

  59. I read the piece quickly, but you seemed to take future citations as a measure of quality. I find this approach – which at least in the social science likens quality with linkbait – unconvincing as a measure of quality, but at least there’s the difference between men’s and women’s subsequent citations. But at that point I wondered whether some gender factor might be coded into the language they use or whether knowledge of the gender of the author might generate some bias.

    I would have been less confident in drawing conclusions than you were, but who knows.

    But I’d be interested in u reaction to the results in this paper.

    • About citations: I understand that the situation in social science can be more difficult, so let me speak about physics, that I know. In physics one can take a database of 1 million of papers and, by working properly with citations, one can quickly obtain a list of top authors that largely overlaps with analogous lists obtained trough human evaluation (medals, prizes, etc). Bibliometrics is just a more efficient way of doing the same job, like manual knitting vs the knitting machine. The job is here measuring the average opinion of the community. This might be a wrong goal (some communities might have “wrong” average opinions), but this is a different problem.

      About the paper you quote, I can only reat its abstract. If I understand correctly the key sentence is “Despite blinded review, female applicants receive significantly lower scores”, so it seems confirming that the problem is not sexism, similarly to this other finding: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-30/bilnd-recruitment-trial-to-improve-gender-equality-failing-study/8664888

  60. LasseLiten says

    Among all the ridiculous accusations against Strumia, notably those relating to academic integrity (launched, in my imagination, by people thoroughly lacking in it), the initial claims of CERN actually seem to stick. After all, it is hard to claim that his actions in such a heated context constituted a paragon of the reserve and tact the CERN ordinances called for.

    For the record, I agree with Strumias analysis and most, but not all, of his conclusions. But there are reasons beyond cowardice and careerism that I would not go public with them.

    • Some people signed with CERN affiliations a “ParticlesForJustice” document that contains mistakes, false statements and personal attacks that go way beyond violations of “reserve and tact”. I’m waiting to see whether CERN applies the same rule to them as it did to me.

  61. Pingback: The Strumions - Ocasapiens - Blog - Repubblica.it

  62. Pingback: Alessandro Strumia: Another Politically-Correct Witch-Hunt, or a More Complicated Story? - Quillette

  63. mike says

    Part of the question should come from this:

    “Psychometric tests indicate that men and women perform, on average, equally well when it comes to different cognitive skills, but men are more common at both the low and the high ends of the distributions. So there’s greater variability among men when it comes to these traits than women.”……So,

    the average skill level of women matches the average skill level of men.
    the average skill level of women exceeds the skill level of the men who occupy the low end of the skill distribution.
    therefore, why are men with lower than average skill levels employed, rather than women of average skill levels?

    Counting publications as a proxy is a poor indicator; someone not employed in physics is unlikely to conduct research or to publish on physics. The better indicator would be a comparison, by gender, with further classification by the relevant ability level, of job applications versus hires, l.

Comments are closed.