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zelticgar

The Diversity Pipeline

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On 30/06/2017 at 1:10 AM, Sir Thursday said:

@Happy Ent: The nature of the problem is one of feedback loops and snowball effects, both of which have chaotic impacts (in the mathematical sense that two infinitesimally close starting points can end up with wildly disparate outcomes). Is that not a sufficient explanation for why industries with similar characteristics can end up with different gender ratios?

That depends on what you mean by “sufficient”.

For me, this “explanation” does not help. It has no explanatory power. It makes no useful predictions. It provides to guidelines for solving the problem.

(Maybe it’s useful to understand the motivations for people to engage in this discussion. If I could understand, or even solve this (to whatever tiny degree), I would be super famous. My career would be made. People would grovel at my feet. I would walk on water. Take whatever metaphor you like.

Other people will engage in this debate for a variety of other reasons, some of them nefarious. On both sides of the problem. Essentialists will use it to establish their view of immutable group characteristics. Politicians will use it for power dynamics in the labour market. Individuals will use it to explain personal failure. All these people have a much lower standard for “sufficient explanation” than I have. Also, many of them are epistemologically myopic, dumb, or personally invested, all of which are detrimental to understanding any issue, let alone a complex one. (The value of anecdotal or personal experience is not universally acknowledged, to put it mildly.)

So “sufficient explanation” means different things to different people. I’m here to learn more, not to convince anybody.) 

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I think one has to look into different factors: "clichées", incentives and different kinds of impediments. The impediments women faced in almost any kind of either STEM or high prestige (medicine, law) subject until the 60s or 70s were probably considerably higher than any similar hindrances now. The clichées were also more deeply ingrained. Although I begin to think it at least plausible that some stereotypes have become worse in the last ca. 20 years. Certainly many toys were far more gender-neutral in the 70s and 80s when I grew up; I had had the impression that this was different for "grown-ups" and also that the (in many Western countries) huge efforts of "girl's days" and similar things should have reduced the impact of stereotypes. Maybe not, maybe there is some social factor X that is stronger than girl's days and stuff. (I don't know enough about gamergate but it is sufficiently "local" to not affect gender proportions in chemistry or physics as much as CS.)

But despite any factors at work from the 1950s-90s, women became a majority (or at least close enough) in many traditionally male academic subjects, including those like Law that require more stereotypically "male" traits than STEM. It is to some extent true that very similar subjects have vastly different gender proportions (which might be a point for the "chaos hypothesis mentioned above). From numbers I find for Germany: (general) Chemistry: 36% women, but food chemistry (which is a separate major in Germany) >70% women.

Or veterinary medicine (Western Germany): % of female students:  1974 24 %, 1980 50 %, 1990 74 %, 2001 87 %.

Therefore we need to posit fairly specific factors to explain the very different current imbalances (or roll-back) between these subjects. It could also be changes in incentives. There might also be saturation effects in some subjects (but this seems unlikely in CS because the proportion is so low compared to close neighbors like maths and physics, although see above, the difference between chemistry and food chemistry is probably smaller than between Maths and CS.) And there are some results from psychology that some of the gender clichées are to some extent true as tendencies and relative frequencies. Remember we are here talking about the right half of an ability distribution, for many things about people close to/around 2 STD above average ability. Smallish differences begin to matter there. And as has been pointed out some people seem to underestimate the unattractiveness of some fields of STEM. So some people with high abilities will go into different fields because they are smart enough to be competitive and "make it" everywhere they choose. E.g. someone with both high verbal and maths skills has obviously more and different options than a stuttering nerd who only excels in maths and programming. And there seems to be some evidence that there are more men with "lopsided" skills than women. (There are also about 4 times as many men who stutter so this was not a clichée)

I also think one can exaggerate the social relevance (this is independent of whether it is interesting) of the topic. I simply fail to see why either 87% female veterinarians or a similar percentage of male programmers should be a major societal problem that needs to be "fixed" in the first place. There might always be a chance of some untapped potential and people ending up doing a job they are not ideally suited for of failing academically because they picked the "wrong" subject and there should of course be some help to avoid too many such cases. But overall there are certainly more pressing problems, e.g. what to do about people who cannot get any decent job at all etc.

EDIT: I don't say that strong imbalances like the veterians etc. are "good" but many of them are neutral. Some are not and it there is more effort justified to make sure that e.g. in teaching from kindergarten on (or even childcare before than) children are not entirely educated by either males or females. But for animal doctors it does not matter.

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I think one reason that women have made more progress in pursuing fields like law and medicine (although, as stated previously, this increased pipeline has not really led to increased diversity at the top) is that there is a set credential to pursue. People can belittle your skills and condescend to you, but they can't deny that you have a JD/MD/etc. Whereas in CS, with only a BA or BS degree needed and sometimes not even that, women might not be able to "prove" themselves as easily.

Reading this thread made me think of a study from a few years ago that found women only apply for jobs where they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men generally apply if they can meet 60%. So a woman might find it easier to get in the door in a field where the requirement is a specific degree, as opposed to CS where the requirements might be an unrealistic laundry list of languages or overly nebulous, etc.

(Also, IIRC, the reason that women didn't apply for jobs where they didn't meet the qualifications was usually NOT because they didn't think they could do the job, but because they thought their application wouldn't be considered so it was a waste of time.)

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10 minutes ago, Starkess said:

I think one reason that women have made more progress in pursuing fields like law and medicine (although, as stated previously, this increased pipeline has not really led to increased diversity at the top) is that there is a set credential to pursue. People can belittle your skills and condescend to you, but they can't deny that you have a JD/MD/etc. Whereas in CS, with only a BA or BS degree needed and sometimes not even that, women might not be able to "prove" themselves as easily.

Reading this thread made me think of a study from a few years ago that found women only apply for jobs where they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men generally apply if they can meet 60%. So a woman might find it easier to get in the door in a field where the requirement is a specific degree, as opposed to CS where the requirements might be an unrealistic laundry list of languages or overly nebulous, etc.

(Also, IIRC, the reason that women didn't apply for jobs where they didn't meet the qualifications was usually NOT because they didn't think they could do the job, but because they thought their application wouldn't be considered so it was a waste of time.)

I read that as well somewhere and remember being thoroughly shocked. Job ad requirements are not an iron wall requiring an, at minimum, exact fit of the entire list or its pointless to apply!?

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24 minutes ago, Starkess said:

I think one reason that women have made more progress in pursuing fields like law and medicine (although, as stated previously, this increased pipeline has not really led to increased diversity at the top) is that there is a set credential to pursue. People can belittle your skills and condescend to you, but they can't deny that you have a JD/MD/etc. Whereas in CS, with only a BA or BS degree needed and sometimes not even that, women might not be able to "prove" themselves as easily.

Reading this thread made me think of a study from a few years ago that found women only apply for jobs where they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men generally apply if they can meet 60%. So a woman might find it easier to get in the door in a field where the requirement is a specific degree, as opposed to CS where the requirements might be an unrealistic laundry list of languages or overly nebulous, etc.

(Also, IIRC, the reason that women didn't apply for jobs where they didn't meet the qualifications was usually NOT because they didn't think they could do the job, but because they thought their application wouldn't be considered so it was a waste of time.)

When it comes down to a man meeting 60% of the qualifications and a female applicant meeting 90% of the qualifications for a Stem position, men probably have the edge in getting picked over a woman. 

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1 hour ago, maarsen said:

When it comes down to a man meeting 60% of the qualifications and a female applicant meeting 90% of the qualifications for a Stem position, men probably have the edge in getting picked over a woman. 

I have sat in academic hiring committees for a generation, in various countries. Mostly for CS positions.

To put it mildly, what you describe is not my experience, nor have I ever heard anybody tell any different story than CS hiring committees all over the Western world bending over backwards to attract and hire an equally qualified woman.

The only explanation is that my anecdote is unique, and I’m subject to a huge conspiracy of my peers.

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I am a skilled tradesman with few women doing what I do. I have watched what has happened to a female tradesperson, some one I worked with closely enough to become a close friend. She never got the respect she deserves from the people that hired her or the other people she worked with. She is very strong minded and confident in her abilities and does not let too much bother her. I  imagine my evidence is anecdotal also but enough comments have been made about other female tradespeople that I suspect my impression is accurate.

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Boys only private schools and university secret societies are very, very real, those people are shot through with incompetent XY individuals in their position solely through social connections their parent's wealth has bought them.  

My nephew is 20 years old and is the manager of a city music venue that holds up to 2000 people, his father, someone who stole his first million from the NHS just happened to buy the venue.  Hes to old to be manager himself.

Used to be pharmacies claimed £70 each time they checked the medicines in prescriptions did not combine to create serious side effects, my former brother in law was checking every single prescription, people prescribed a mild painkiller for an ingrowing toenail and nothing else my former brother in law would steal another £70.  That practice enriched a lot of Tories, its been stopped now, became indefensible and obvious, so he lost out on that.  Tories have plenty of thieving scams.

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9 hours ago, Jo498 said:

[…] I simply fail to see why either 87% female veterinarians or a similar percentage of male programmers should be a major societal problem that needs to be "fixed" in the first place. There might always be a chance of some untapped potential and people ending up doing a job they are not ideally suited for of failing academically because they picked the "wrong" subject and there should of course be some help to avoid too many such cases. But overall there are certainly more pressing problems, e.g. what to do about people who cannot get any decent job at all etc.

There are at least three arguments brought to the table in favour of “fixing” the “problem.”

1. Argument from volume of applicants. There simply aren’t enough homo sapiens going into STEM fields. Doubling the number of CS majors would give us twice as many CS majors. If we could do that by attracting as many women as men, by merely removing some easily-removed obstacles, then this is a cost-efficient way of doing it.

2. Argument from signalled discrimination. One of the many explanations for the gender difference in recruitment, retention, and graduation of CS majors (and similar phenomena in the work force) is that there might be discrimination at play. This would be bad in itself, and worth fixing. Therefore, it makes sense to investigate the issue, so as to address an injustice.

3. Argument from power. (This is a very new argument, and did not exist when the debate began in the 1980s.) CS wields extreme power. If you believe in the explanations of identity politics, then the interests of Group X are exclusively represented by each member of Group X. Hence you need women in CS.

My own biases are that my ideology makes me strongly reject 3 (because I reject essentialism), and feel strong aversion to “fixing people” (because I find that abhorrent). The willingness of many of by benevolent colleagues to lure women into CS by pretending it is something that it isn’t is deeply disturbing to me; it’s immoral and dishonest. I have difficulties overcoming these biases. 

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Sorry if this was brought up on another thread but I did not see any comments regarding the Google Diversity Memo controversy.  Not sure I agree with the speed at which they fired the employee. There are certainly some things in the memo that are difficult to discuss but the end result of this situation will be people are less inclined to discuss diversity. 

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37 minutes ago, zelticgar said:

Sorry if this was brought up on another thread but I did not see any comments regarding the Google Diversity Memo controversy.  Not sure I agree with the speed at which they fired the employee. There are certainly some things in the memo that are difficult to discuss but the end result of this situation will be people are less inclined to discuss diversity. 

Yeah its not surprising he has been fired as google is trying to improve its image when it comes to diversity. The actual manifesto and everything he wrote has blown WAY out of proportion and outright mistruths spouted about what he has said, if you read it, on the whole its a measured, if right wing, bit of writing. Most of the things people are accusing him of saying, he simply hasn't said, or they have blown up out of context.

The unfortunate part is that he is now appearing on a bunch of right wing lunatic youtube pages doing interviews, which really makes it hard to sympathise with him.

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He also lied about his qualifications, claiming he had a Ph. D from Harvard when he only has a Masters, so you know maybe there's a bit more 'over entitled employee screws his employer after getting his job on fraudulent qualifications then gets fired' and a bit less 'diversity ruining tech' here.

Someone who is convinced the people around him had an unfair advantage is more likely to break the rules to let himself 'catch up' as he sees it, so watch out for this shit.

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10 minutes ago, karaddin said:

He also lied about his qualifications, claiming he had a Ph. D from Harvard when he only has a Masters, so you know maybe there's a bit more 'over entitled employee screws his employer after getting his job on fraudulent qualifications then gets fired' and a bit less 'diversity ruining tech' here.

Someone who is convinced the people around him had an unfair advantage is more likely to break the rules to let himself 'catch up' as he sees it, so watch out for this shit.

Yes, true. But at the same time doesn't quite take away from what he's saying. There have been a lot of attempts to smear him since this all came out.

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4 hours ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

Yes, true. But at the same time doesn't quite take away from what he's saying. There have been a lot of attempts to smear him since this all came out.

He said women are too neurotic to be good engineers, he thought empathy was a negative trait for engineers and developers, and he provided no actual data on any of this shit. 

I don't need to smear the guy personally to smear his ideas, which have been largely proven entirely false by reams of data on the subject, massively overvalue biological premises to anything else in the universe, and stated personal beliefs not backed by information as fact in order to make spurious conclusions. From that, all of his premises are necessarily tainted fruit. 

This Quora article goes in-depth into the various scientific basis that Damore completely and utterly ignored and is the best overall explanation for why he's so absurdly wrong. 

The other article from an actual senior engineer formerly at Google (Damore's title is Senior, but he was only 27 and had been there for like 3 years) illustrates quite well why he had to be fired, and right away. 

Quote

And as for its impact on you: Do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you? I certainly couldn’t assign any women to deal with this, a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face, and even if there were a group of like-minded individuals I could put you with, nobody would be able to collaborate with them. You have just created a textbook hostile workplace environment.

Opening your worldwide company up for a class-action lawsuit with 20% of your workforce as the plaintiffs is something that most companies want to avoid, and Damore absolutely violated their guidelines. It isn't a great choice, but it's the least bad choice for the company. 

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Also, this mcsweeney's article seems very relevant.

Quote

Humans are also far more likely to “literally cannot right now.” I have never met an automaton that literally could not, though I have met some that theoretically would not and hypothetically might want to stop.

 

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30 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

He said women are too neurotic to be good engineers, he thought empathy was a negative trait for engineers and developers, and he provided no actual data on any of this shit. 

 

Nope. Obviously you never bothered to read what he said. He said that women in general women display higher levels of neuroticism than men and that they are generally more risk adverse, which means they on the whole avoid roles which include high levels of stress. (There are some scientific studies which show this, and hes also not saying its all women.. which he repeats constantly)
He didn't say they couldn't be engineers he's saying it goes some way to explaining why high level jobs are going to more men rather than women. In fact the entire point of his manifesto is to point out that if there is a divide male female engineers then it is probably not entirely due to discrimination. His manifesto is actually pretty well thought out and hardly extreme.

It also doesn't say half of the things the main stream media are claiming it does. And this is why even the Quora post you linked to is deeply dishonest. It assumes his position and goes on a rant without even bothering to talk about what hes actually said. 

From his actual manifesto:

 

Quote

” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

He's being perfectly reasonable. The problem here is that everyone is assuming he's saying that women shouldn't be engineers and that they are too stupid and frail to do it. But thats far from what hes saying. He actually would like more women in tech, and makes suggestions for how to make it easier to get them in. He wants more freedom of thought and discussion and less of a left wing echo chamber

Where people want to jump down his throat is because he dared to mention that men and women might not be biologically identical, and there might be some broad traits which are common to certain genders. In 2017 this thinking is basically illegal and will get you sacked clearly. 

This case has been a huge example of what many describe as 'the regressive left'  ( a term I really don't like but its really showing itself quite heavily here) where all discussion is shut down, people are sacked , and the echo chamber he complains about goes on and on without any sort of introspection.

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5 hours ago, karaddin said:

He also lied about his qualifications, claiming he had a Ph. D from Harvard when he only has a Masters, so you know maybe there's a bit more 'over entitled employee screws his employer after getting his job on fraudulent qualifications then gets fired' and a bit less 'diversity ruining tech' here.

Someone who is convinced the people around him had an unfair advantage is more likely to break the rules to let himself 'catch up' as he sees it, so watch out for this shit.

He also claims on his CV to be a FIDE chess master, which he isn't.

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Women who have been pregnant would no doubt tell our hero what he can do with this idea about them:

Quote

generally more risk adverse, which means they on the whole avoid roles which include high levels of stress.

 

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1 hour ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

Nope. Obviously you never bothered to read what he said. He said that women in general women display higher levels of neuroticism than men and that they are generally more risk adverse, which means they on the whole avoid roles which include high levels of stress. (There are some scientific studies which show this, and hes also not saying its all women.. which he repeats constantly)
He didn't say they couldn't be engineers he's saying it goes some way to explaining why high level jobs are going to more men rather than women. In fact the entire point of his manifesto is to point out that if there is a divide male female engineers then it is probably not entirely due to discrimination. His manifesto is actually pretty well thought out and hardly extreme.

I've read it. I stand by what I stated. It doesn't matter if he says 'not all women', either, because he's making the case that women have to prove that they are not neurotic in order to function. By the same token, men in tech are significantly more neurotic than the general population, yet he does not state that. He specifically stated that women, on average, have more 'neuroticism' - and this explains why they are not in more positions of engineering. 

It also doesn't explain, really, anything. Women aren't nearly as underrepresented in law or in medicine, which are considered far more high-stress and risky practices. It doesn't explain why women in Iran are significantly more likely to be engineers. It doesn't explain why women had a fairly high representation in CS until the mid 1980s, when it fell off a cliff - and shockingly corresponded with representation of men doing computing. He didn't cite a single study, and if he had bothered to look things up he'd see the large amount of data that is against his viewpoints as being so absurdly definitional based on biology. 

1 hour ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:



It also doesn't say half of the things the main stream media are claiming it does. And this is why even the Quora post you linked to is deeply dishonest. It assumes his position and goes on a rant without even bothering to talk about what hes actually said. 

Explain, please, how it is deeply dishonest.

1 hour ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

He's being perfectly reasonable. The problem here is that everyone is assuming he's saying that women shouldn't be engineers and that they are too stupid and frail to do it.

He is saying that women have a number of negative traits that they should be assumed to have, and both that things like empathy are things you should avoid (bullshit) and that you should ignore basically anything else other than biological values to determine these issues and not at all confront them. 

1 hour ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

But thats far from what hes saying. He actually would like more women in tech, and makes suggestions for how to make it easier to get them in. He wants more freedom of thought and discussion and less of a left wing echo chamber

That is one of the things he said, yes. He also said that women are more prone to anxiety (without citation), more cooperative (without citation), more desirous of artistic positions (without citation), and less likely to want leadership positions (without citation). As I've said elsewhere, he does have a couple of decent points, but at that point it is basically saying 'other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

1 hour ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:


Where people want to jump down his throat is because he dared to mention that men and women might not be biologically identical, and there might be some broad traits which are common to certain genders. In 2017 this thinking is basically illegal and will get you sacked clearly. 

That's dishonest on your part. No one - none of the people I linked to, not myself, not others - is claiming that men and women are not biologically different. What I will jump down his throat for is implying that this is the only reason for women to be paid less or treated worse, or that this is a good thing (which is what he states when he talks about rating things entirely based on what is good for Google). 

1 hour ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

This case has been a huge example of what many describe as 'the regressive left'  ( a term I really don't like but its really showing itself quite heavily here) where all discussion is shut down, people are sacked , and the echo chamber he complains about goes on and on without any sort of introspection.

It really isn't. If he had simply raised the point that men also suffer from bias - and focused on how he personally had suffered, how certain practices are unfair to him - that would have largely been fine. 

When he says that the primary reason that women aren't doing as well as men is because of biology and that this is in general a good thing for Google, that is going to get you fired. And not because of regressive left - it's because he has created the definition of a hostile work environment for 25% of the workforce at Google. That is a major, major problem. There are ways to ask certain questions he raised without also saying 'and women are biologically less suited for high-stress jobs nor do they want them'. He failed not because of his ideas, but because he raised them in an incredibly bad and legally poor way. 

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2 hours ago, Channel4s-JonSnow said:

Nope. Obviously you never bothered to read what he said. He said that women in general women display higher levels of neuroticism than men and that they are generally more risk adverse, which means they on the whole avoid roles which include high levels of stress. (There are some scientific studies which show this, and hes also not saying its all women.. which he repeats constantly)
He didn't say they couldn't be engineers he's saying it goes some way to explaining why high level jobs are going to more men rather than women. In fact the entire point of his manifesto is to point out that if there is a divide male female engineers then it is probably not entirely due to discrimination. His manifesto is actually pretty well thought out and hardly extreme.

It also doesn't say half of the things the main stream media are claiming it does. And this is why even the Quora post you linked to is deeply dishonest. It assumes his position and goes on a rant without even bothering to talk about what hes actually said. 

From his actual manifesto:

 

He's being perfectly reasonable. The problem here is that everyone is assuming he's saying that women shouldn't be engineers and that they are too stupid and frail to do it. But thats far from what hes saying. He actually would like more women in tech, and makes suggestions for how to make it easier to get them in. He wants more freedom of thought and discussion and less of a left wing echo chamber

Where people want to jump down his throat is because he dared to mention that men and women might not be biologically identical, and there might be some broad traits which are common to certain genders. In 2017 this thinking is basically illegal and will get you sacked clearly. 

This case has been a huge example of what many describe as 'the regressive left'  ( a term I really don't like but its really showing itself quite heavily here) where all discussion is shut down, people are sacked , and the echo chamber he complains about goes on and on without any sort of introspection.

Uhhh... Thanks for posting a bunch of shit that proves you're wrong?

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