The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

It’s a Man’s (Virtual) World, Baby

Posted on | July 30, 2014 | 79 Comments

Before starting this discussion, permit me to point out that no entrepreneur in conservative online media has been more successful than Michelle Malkin, who launched two digital start-ups — HotAir.com and Twitchy.com — and subsequently sold these Internet properties to Salem Communications for sums rumored to be seven figures each.

The knowledge that this woman’s phenomenal intelligence and hard work have been handsomely rewarded in the marketplace of ideas casts an important light on Issie Lapowsky’s Wired.com article:

Shortly after Kathryn Tucker started RedRover, an app that showcases local events for kids, she pitched the idea to an angel investor at a New York tech event. But it didn’t go over well. When she finished her pitch, the investor said he didn’t invest in women.
When she asked why, he told her. “I don’t like the way women think,” he said. “They haven’t mastered linear thinking.” To prove his point, he explained that his wife could never prioritize her to-do lists properly. And then, as if he was trying to compliment her, he told Tucker she was different. “You’re more male,” he said.
Tucker didn’t need to hear any more. “I said, ‘Thanks very much,’ walked out, and never spoke to him again,” she recalled earlier this year, as part of a panel discussion on “fundraising while female” at the annual Internet Week conference in New York.
It was one of many stories shared during a panel that painted the tech world as a place that—for all its efforts to push into the future with apps and gadgets and online services—is still very much stuck in the past when it comes to attitudes involving gender. Rachel Sklar, founder of Change the Ratio, an advocacy group for women in tech, shared the story of an investor who said he doesn’t invest in women he doesn’t find attractive. Another gave women in the audience a tip for pitching VCs: “Wear a wedding ring.”
As unsettling as they were, these stories only begin to describe the obstacles facing women in the tech world. We’ve all seen the numbers. According to a recent report . . . only 13 percent of venture-backed companies had at least one female co-founder. In the software sector, women-run businesses accounted for just 10 percent of all venture capital deals. . . .

You can read the whole tendentious thing, which is a typical example of how feminists argue: Cite some statistics, tell a few anecdotes and — voila! — they’re victims oppressed by the patriarchy. To dispute their claims just proves you’re a sexist, and so skeptics are either smeared or intimidated into silence.

The core of the feminist argument here is a simple fallacy, the belief that every kind of “inequality” must be the result of unfair discrimination, so that merely by showing a statistical disparity, they believe they have exposed “social injustice.”

This is an absurd species of bad logic. It depends upon the credulous belief, the unstated premise of the syllogism, that male sexism is such a powerful force as to triumph over the profit motive of investors in a market economy. Such feminist claims furthermore depend on another unstated premise, namely that perfect parity — where participation in every field of human endeavor, at every level, is exactly proportional to the general population — is the natural, normal or most desirable state of affairs. Only if one accepts that dubious egalitarian premise is there any reason to believe that the high-tech sector is plagued by wrongful sexist discrimination.

The different proportions of employees in various career fields — whether we analyze the workforce by sex, race, age, nationality, religion or any other factor — may have any number of explanations without prompting a legitimate claim of unfair discrimination. Even where one can cite anecdotal evidence of prejudiced attitudes (e.g., sexist remarks made by investors or executives), it does not follow from such examples that this prejudice is the cause of the statistical disparity. In fact, one can plausibly argue that causality runs in the other direction, and that sexist attitudes in male-dominated career fields are simply a reflection of the fact that most people in these fields are male, so that the normative expectations are expressions of commonplace male attitudes.

We might expect that women seeking employment as construction workers or long-haul truck drivers would face a certain amount of prejudice in those overwhelmingly male trades; it does not follow from this fact, however, that prejudice against women explains why there are so few women carpenters, bricklayers or tractor-trailer drivers. There is a chicken-and-egg question of causality involved, and if truck drivers are (a) mostly male and (b) given to “sexist” beliefs, we cannot presume that (b) is the cause of (a), nor can we rule out the plausible alternative (c) that most women simply aren’t interested in driving big rigs.

It is impossible to overlook the fact that these types of “diversity” claims — where a perceived shortage of women or ethnic minorities in some field is treated as a problem of unfairness or discrimination — are only ever made in relation to career fields that are relatively lucrative or perceived as prestigious. No one has ever cited the percentage of women (or Chinese or Latinos, whatever) employed as short-order cooks or retail clerks as evidence that there is discrimination in these low-paying, low-prestige jobs. Nor is the disproportionately large number of African-American players in the NBA claimed to result from anti-white prejudice, because success in the world of professional sports ultimately comes down to who can best play the game. Where we find claims of discriminatory unfairness, or laments about the lack of “diversity,” are in high-paying office jobs generally requiring a college education and where the superiority of merit between different employees is difficult for any outsider to judge.

Notice that the people who are most involved in pushing these discrimination/diversity claims are usually employed in exactly these kinds of office jobs. They are lawyers, journalists, academics or non-profit activists — college-educated people employed in fields where it is hard to say that judgments of merit are entirely objective. If a certain lawyer is appointed to be a federal judge, for example, the fact that this attorney is qualified, having a diploma from a good law school and having been successful in private practice, does not mean that he is the most qualified candidate for the job. There may be many thousands of lawyers in America whose qualifications are at least as good as the lawyer appointed to the federal bench, but (a) many of those lawyers have no interest in serving as a judge, and (b) even if they were interested, most don’t have the political connections needed to attract the attention and support of those who decide which candidates the president will nominate for a vacancy in the federal judiciary.

By the same token, whatever the criteria by which one judges a journalist, a professor or a non-profit activist, it is very difficult to say that questions of absolute merit in those fields can be determined by strictly objective standards. A reporter who wins the Pulitzer Prize, for example, can usually be presumed to be one of the best practitioners of the trade. However, Janet Cooke of the Washington Post won the Pulitzer for a series of articles later revealed to have been fabricated, and Pulitzer winner Rick Bragg resigned from the New York Times after being accused of ethical lapses. One  could examine the other occupations of diversity-mongers — in academia, for example — and produce similar instances that indicate the absence of an absolute-merit standard.

We return, then, to the alleged discrimination against women in the computer technology field, as described by Issie Lapowsky. Here we need not speculate endlessly about the standard of merit. Ultimately, the market determines whether a technology company succeeds or fails. High-tech start-ups are notoriously risky investments; for every Google or Facebook that turns into a gigantic money-maker for investors, there are countless ventures that implode in a matter of months or which, like Salon.com, seem to stagger along in zombie fashion because “investors” have a non-monetary motive to keep losing money year after year.

Investors and executives in high-tech firms have every possible incentive to attract the very best personnel available. If qualified females are being discriminated against, so that less-qualified males are employed or promoted, then companies could gain a competitive advantage by hiring and promoting women who are victims of discrimination at other firms. Therefore, if the lack of “diversity” in high-tech is the result of unfair sexist prejudice, some companies must be cutting off their noses to spite their faces, forgoing opportunities for profit in the process. Ultimately, then, these sexist firms would lose market share in comparison to companies whose employment practices are based on standards of absolute merit, and firms that hire and promote qualified females would gain economic benefit from their wise policies.

The fact that this has not happened — that the most successful firms in this highly competitive field are founded and managed by men — would logically seem to be adequate evidence that  unfair discrimination is not the norm in high-tech. But if feminists cared about logic and evidence, they wouldn’t be feminists, would they?





 

 

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Comments

  • Dianna Deeley

    Bloomberg had a cover article a couple weeks ago, “The Return of the Boom-Boom Room”. The beginning of the article cited the “Boom-Boom Room, where women were subjected to systematic sexual harassment” at an investment bank during the 90′s, as being what women in Silicone Valley experience.

    Um. Really? I worked the Valley back in the 80′s, when I was 18 and 19, and there was surely a shortage of women, and I was never harassed. Shyly approached, tentatively gazed upon, clumsily asked out, but not sexually harassed. The women I’ve known in tech were generally pretty able to look after themselves, and I have seldom heard much complaint – except that sometimes you have to hit the geek you like with a brick to get his attention.

  • Mike G.

    I hit a whole herd of cows in a ’72 Dodge 4×4 crew cab when I was in Germany. I guess I was doing about 30 when I came around the curve and there they were with nowhere for me to go. I only hit one solidly. The rest i just kind of brushed against the side of the truck. Cow got up and walked off, did $600 bucks worth of damage to the truck and the old German farmer waved his stick in my face, cussing me out.

    The only reason I didn’t have to pay the farmer was because there was no “farm animals ahead” sign posted.

  • Dianna Deeley

    You’re not exactly wrong – but I’ve noticed that a lot of those jobs require upper-body strength, and…well, I do pushups, and I still don’t think I would do very well at handling a jack-hammer.

  • Dianna Deeley

    I’m only laughing because I have lived near many a cement plant and I have stories about cement truck drivers you don’t really want to hear.

  • Dianna Deeley

    I don’t think there’s anything you could say that wouldn’t cause the Feminist Outrage Brigades to flip out. Sorry, it’s as if you have been designated as the guy to flip out over.

  • RS

    True.

    It was just a bonus that she was on call when I went into respiratory arrest a couple of years ago and saved my life, then sat with my wife for two hours until I was out of the woods. : )

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  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Oh, you know he enjoys it, Dianna.

  • Sort-of-Mad Max

    Another bonus for older guys with a female doctor; smaller hands. Big win at prostate exam time!

  • DeadMessenger

    I think I could fly a fighter jet. I have the ability to focus with laser-like intensity on…oooo, look at those cute shoes she’s wearing…anyway, and plus I’m obviously smart enough to…oh my gosh, I just broke a nail, and right after a manicure, too. And also, I come from a military family, so…oh wow, a bogo sale at the Dress Barn. I gotta go check that out. We’ll talk later, ‘kay?

  • Quartermaster

    The farmer wasn’t supposed to have his cattle out on the road. That’s true of even the Kreis roads. I lived there for 6 years and left last time in ’69. 4 Years near K-Town, 2 years near Stuttgart.

    My brother was a Tanker assigned to the same Kaserne Elvis had been stationed and told me a story of his battalion moving along a Kreis road and a guy in an Audi passed 3 of their tanks and pulled into a gap in the line of tanks to close to the lead tank. The tank didn’t have enough to get stopped in and time and…well, you can imagine what 51 tons of homogeneous steel will do to an Audi. The Kraut driver learned a lesson he’ll never have to remember.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    As a veteran of the “tech” industry for many decades, I can attest that you’ll not find a more diverse bunch. Whether you mean gender, skin color, or any other designation, no matter how unique or bizarre.

    So for some reason I’ve been seeing “headlines” go by claiming there’s not enough women in the tech fields.

    They might have a point if they qualify it. Like, “Not enough Bedouin women,” or maybe, “Not enough Trans-Post-whatever-cis-women.”

    But if you possessed a machine capable of plucking random people out of any demographic you could name, and then applied it to the “Tech” world, at large, you’d get more women than almost any other industry or demographic group not labeled “Teaching” or “Nursing.” (I exclude the obvious, gender-only demographic as being trivial.)

    For example, most people are aware that “Manufacturing” is a predominantly male occupation, when you factor out the small-scale assembly and soft-goods (like clothing) sectors. However, if you look again at “Manufacturing” and select the subgroup of “Tech” workers in Manufacturing, you’d notice a surprising number of women in that group. Never mind if they are working with CNC software or machinery testing equipment.

    So this new push into, “Yo, where da b****es at?” in the tech world seems more like a replacement guilt trip for the now-failing guilt trip of Global Warming. It’s another ploy to suck more taxes out of your wallets to cover an imaginary problem.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    Being the long-term victim of such a brick administered in the Seventies, I know exactly what you mean. We geeks tend to be more “focused” on work, for all the party atmosphere we maintain after hours.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    I might have to re-visit my determination to cut my own hair.

    (relax folks, it’s always been either all-the-way-long or buzz cut – neither requires “styling”)

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    Also, you don’t have to do a “shoulder check” to count the hands.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    That explains the frequent blackouts I’ve suffered.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    I found a lot of those when looking for bars for my Toyota.

    They call those “Roo bars” and its a real “thing” there.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    I wish she’d have turned Hot Air over to less “squishy” folks before selling it.

    I mean, yeah, they get the page hits, but still.

  • Quartermaster

    A Navy friend told a story of a flight physical where the squadron had conspired against one guy that was a bit full of himself as a nugget. Just as the Flight Surgeon was inserting his finger for the prostate check, the Assisting Corpsman placed his hand on the shoulder of the victim. The Flight Surgeon told the squadron that the guy almost broke his wrist when he twisted around.

    A pretty cruel thing to do to a guy, but he had made himself a target.

    The doc did refuse to tape the encounter, citing Doctor patient privilege. A lot of people, however, don’t know that doesn’t exist in the military services. Only conversations with the Chaplain are so privileged. But, the tape would have been a bridge too far, no matter the humor.

  • Quartermaster

    I’m like Len Morgan. I could fly a fighter, but that’s a lot different than being a fighter pilot.

  • Mike G.

    Then you probably know the little village of Bann, a few clicks outside if K-Town. (Our Radar site was up on the ridge above the town.) We used to hold NCO call at the Gast Haus there. Our barracks/dorm was at Volgelweh (sp) I was there from 77-79.

    Evidently, the farmers are allowed to move their cows from the /barn (?) at their homes up the road to the field outside the village, but they have to have signs posted warning about livestock in the road at times.

    It’s been a long time, my memory isn’t what it used to be.

  • http://boogieforward.us/ K-Bob

    Hah!

  • TroubleAtTheMine

    I would be too scared too do that – I am the epitome of the bad woman driver, unfortunately. But if I weren’t, I would still be afraid of being hated by the men. Is that just a fear that I’ve developed from tv stereotypes about construction workers in wife beaters? Would a woman really be treated tolerably in those circumstances? Or is it just that she would be treated like all the other men treat each other, and women hate that?

    Plus don’t you have to be really strong to lug bags of concrete around? Or do machines do that?

    I’m not being sarky, I’m really curious whether or not it’s genuinely realistic for women to go into the masculine type trades like this one.

  • TroubleAtTheMine

    They just want the soft jobs in tech, the ones that don’t rely on merit, and if they create an atmosphere of fear and shame they’ll get all those.

    Then when they get the soft jobs they’ll pull an Adria Richards because they really believe their own BS.

  • Guest

    I was born in the 80s and keenly remember how toxic computers, technology, blockbuster action movies, and video games seemed to be to the females during my adolescence in the 90s and early 2000s. Now, some years later, they are crying about being underrepresented in those very same fields! Seems every other day I read an article about how we need more women in tech, how we need strong female leads in movies and games… and all I can think is ‘are you fucking serious?’ It’s almost as if feminists need to take over everything just to do it… they want video games they never play, they want jobs in fields they never showed interest in before… this is getting ridiculous.

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    I’ve already seen and heard them all. I once had a driver get lost going to a job on the yard!

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Normally, the heaviest thing mixer drivers have to lift are the chutes on the trucks, about 30 lb apiece.

    However, true story: in 1988, when I was 35 years old, Jane, an absolutely babelicious 45 year old driver had a load that was a bit too wet. She pulled her truck over by the storage shed, because I was going to throw in five 94 lb bags of cement in to tighten up the load. I put a 94 lb bag on my shoulder, and climbed the ladder, which actually leaned out backwards a bit, and dumped it in the truck hopper. I came back down, and before I could grab another bag, Jane put a 94 lb bag on her shoulder, climbed up, and dumped it in. I did three bags and she did two, but the only reason I did more was because it was an odd number and I took the first one.

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Star Trek! not Star Wars!

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