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A better answer to “why women outperform men in college?”

8 July 2009

Summary:  Yesterday’s post examined the evidence that women are outperforming men in college, and some opinions about the reasons for this — and the implications.  Many interesting theories were mentioned, most or all of which probably play a role.  However I believe there are deeper factors at work.  The moral basis for men’s role in our society has disappeared, and the moral highground is decisive in the war between the sexes — just as it often is in 4th generation warfare.

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The simple reason for women’s increasing success in college relative to men:  they work harder then men.  Obvious social trends explain why.

Relative status of men and women in western society

Men’s status — that is, the status of the average man — came from man’s role as head of the family.  Breadwinner and provider.   Men worked long hours at difficult, often dangerous jobs to provide for their families (even today men’s shorter lifespans result in part from their workplace exposures and injuries).  Women’s role was lifegiver and raising children.  The relative status of these roles varied over time in western societies, but men’s were always at least equal to women’s.

Since WWII all that has changed.  Perhaps the key date was 1969, when Ronald Reagan (governor of California) signed the first no-fault divorce law — one of the most radical bills in American history.  Today every State allows no-fault divorce, and only a few require mutual consent.   (Conservatives usually take the radicals steps in America, since “only Nixon can go to China”).  That destroyed the basics of the marriage contract, leaving little left except natural affection.  And we see that’s not nearly enough to maintain the family as it was.

Now women must prepare to provide not just for themselves but also for their children.  As single mothers they bear the greatest burdens, and accordingly have the highest moral place.  Combined with so many other factors reducing the status of fathers, the result is is a revolutionary change in our family structure, probably unique in the history of the world.  Women increasingly own all the key social roles in America. The result is, as Irina Dunn said, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”  (source)

The new world:  women on top

As boys and girls venture into adulthood at college, their varying prospects affect their relative ambitions.  Girls tend to see what will be required of them, and work hard to prepare.  Boys have less motivation, and work less hard.  Men need only worry about caring for themselves — and couch potatoes have few expensive needs.

Women’s goals are higher, men’s are lower — both aspirationally and morally.  As a result, men’s motivation is weakened; women’s is strengthened. These changes do not affect everyone, of course — but change occurs first at the margins, then spreads.  We have just began to see the effects of our evolving family structure, which will take generations to show their full scope — which will be beyond anything we imagine today.

The outperformance of women in college prefigures the world of tomorrow in which women earn more than men.  We’re already well on our way there, as seen the US Government’s Women in the Labor Force: A Databook (2007 Edition). Perhaps the most telling datum is Table 25 – Wives who earn more than their husbands:   26% in 2005, up almost 1/2 from 1987 (for marriages in which both work).  This includes graduates from the 1970s and 1980’s; the rate for couples who graduated in the last 5 – 10 years is certainly far higher.  What will the number be in 2023, after another 14 years?

Two readings giving more insight into this issue

To better understand these trends, we can turn to two works I strongly recommend reading.

(1) From “Is There Anything Good About Men?“, Roy F. Baumeister (Professor of Psychology at Florida State U), Invited speaker to the 2007 meeting of the American Psychological Association.  Consider if the conditions he describes change so that women are more strongly motivated to excell at school and work.  Excerpt:

{L}et me raise another radical idea. Maybe the differences between the genders are more about motivation than ability. This is the difference between can’t and won’t.

Return for a moment to the Larry Summers issue about why there aren’t more female physics professors at Harvard. Maybe women can do math and science perfectly well but they just don’t like to. After all, most men don’t like math either! Of the small minority of people who do like math, there are probably more men than women. Research by Eccles has repeatedly concluded that the shortage of females in math and science reflects motivation more than ability. And by the same logic, I suspect most men could learn to change diapers and vacuum under the sofa perfectly well too, and if men don’t do those things, it’s because they don’t want to or don’t like to, not because they are constitutionally unable (much as they may occasionally pretend otherwise!).

Several recent works have questioned the whole idea of gender differences in abilities: Even when average differences are found, they tend to be extremely small. In contrast, when you look at what men and women want, what they like, there are genuine differences. Look at research on the sex drive: Men and women may have about equal “ability” in sex, whatever that means, but there are big differences as to motivation: which gender thinks about sex all the time, wants it more often, wants more different partners, risks more for sex, masturbates more, leaps at every opportunity, and so on. Our survey of published research found that pretty much every measure and every study showed higher sex drive in men. It’s official: men are hornier than women. This is a difference in motivation.

Likewise, I mentioned the salary difference, but it may have less to do with ability than motivation. High salaries come from working super-long hours. Workaholics are mostly men. (There are some women, just not as many as men.) One study counted that over 80% of the people who work 50-hour weeks are men.

(2) Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind.

Women’s abandonment of the female persona was reinforced by the persona’s abandoning them. Economic changes made it desirable and necessary that women work; lowering of infant mortality rates meant that women had to have fewer pregnancies; greater longevity and better health meant that women devoted a much smaller portion of their lives to having and rearing children; and the altered relationships within the family meant that they were less likely to find continuing occupation with their children and their children’s children. At forty-five they were finding themselves with nothing to do, and forty more years to do it in. Their formative career years had been lost, and they were, hence, unable to compete with men. A woman who now wanted to be a woman in the old sense would find it very difficult to do so, even if she were to brave the hostile public opinion. In all of these ways the feminist case is very strong indeed. But, though the terms of marriage had been radically altered, no new ones were defined.

The feminist response that justice requires equal sharing of all domestic responsibility by men and women is not a solution, but only a compromise, an attenuation of men’s dedication to their careers and of women’s to family, with arguably an enrichment in diversity of both parties but just as arguably a fragmentation of their lives. The question of who goes with whom in the case of jobs in different cities is unresolved and is, whatever may be said about it, a festering sore, a source of suspicion and resentment, and the potential for war. Moreover, this compromise does not decide anything about the care of the children. Are both parents going to care more about their careers than about the children? Previously children at least had the unqualified dedication of one person, the woman, for whom their care was the most important thing in life. Is half the attention of two the same as the whole attention of one? Is this not a formula for neglecting children? Under such arrangements the family is not a unity, and marriage is an unattractive struggle that is easy to get out of, especially for men.

And here is where the whole business turns nasty. The souls of men —their ambitious, warlike, protective, possessive character—must be dismantled in order to liberate women from their domination. Machismo— the polemical description of maleness or spiritedness, which was the central natural passion in men’s souls in the psychology of the ancients, the passion of attachment and loyalty—was the villain, the source of the difference between the sexes. The feminists were only completing a job begun by Hobbes in his project of taming the harsh elements in the soul. With machismo discredited, the positive task is to make men caring, sensitive, even nurturing, to fit the restructured family. Thus once again men must be re-educated according to an abstract project. They must accept the “feminine elements” in their nature. A host of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streeptypes invade the schools, popular psychology, TV and the movies, making the project respectable. Men tend to undergo this re-education somewhat sullenly but studiously, in order to avoid the opprobrium of the sexist label and to keep peace with their wives and girlfriends. And it is indeed possible to soften men. But to make them “care” is another thing, and the project must inevitably fail.

It must fail because in an age of individualism, persons of either sex cannot be forced to be public-spirited, particularly by those who are becoming less so. Further, caring is either a passion or a virtue, not a description like “sensitive.” A virtue governs a passion, as moderation governs lust, or courage governs fear. But what passion does caring govern? One might say possessiveness, but possessiveness is not to be governed these days—it is to be rooted out. What is wanted is an antidote to natural selfishness, but wishes do not give birth to horses, however much abstract moralism may demand them.

The old moral order, however imperfect it may have been, at least moved toward the virtues by way of the passions. If men were self-concerned, that order tried to expand the scope of self-concern to include others, rather than commanding men to cease being concerned with themselves. To attempt the latter is both tyrannical and ineffective. A true political or social order requires the soul to be like a Gothic cathedral, with selfish stresses and strains helping to hold it up. Abstract moralism condemns certain keystones, removes them, and then blames both the nature of the stones and the structure when it collapses.

The failure of agriculture in socialist collective farming is the best political example of this. An imaginary motive takes the place of a real one, and when the imaginary motive fails to produce the real effect, those who have not been motivated by it are blamed and persecuted. In family questions, inasmuch as men were understood to be so strongly motivated by property, an older wisdom tried to attach concern for the family to that motive: the man was allowed and encouraged to regard his family as his property, so he would care for the former as he would instinctively care for the latter. This was effective, although it obviously had disadvantages from the point of view of justice.

When wives and children come to the husband and father and say, “We are not your property; we are ends in ourselves and demand to be treated as such,” the anonymous observer cannot help being impressed. But the difficulty comes when wives and children further demand that the man continue to care for them as before, just when they are giving an example of caring for themselves. They object to the father’s flawed motive and ask that it be miraculously replaced by a pure one, of which they wish to make use for their own ends. The father will almost inevitably constrict his quest for property, cease being a father and become a mere man again, rather than turning into a providential God, as others ask him to be.

What is so intolerable about the Republic, as Plato shows, is the demand that men give up their land, their money, their wives, their children, for the sake of the public good, their concern for which had previously been buttressed by these lower attachments. The hope is to have a happy city made up entirely of unhappy men. Similar demands are made today in an age of slack morality and self-indulgence. Plato taught that, however laudable justice may be, one cannot expect prodigies of virtue from ordinary people. Better a real city tainted by selfish motives than one that cannot exist, except in speech, and that promotes real tyranny.

I am not arguing here that the old family arrangements were good or that we should or could go back to them. I am only insisting that we not cloud our vision to such an extent that we believe that there are viable substitutes for them just because we want or need them. The peculiar attachment of mothers for their children existed, and in some degree still exists, whether it was the product of nature or nurture. That fathers should have exactly the same kind of attachment is much less evident. We can insist on it, but if nature does not cooperate, all our efforts will have been in vain. Biology forces women to take maternity leaves. Law can enjoin men to take paternity leaves, but it cannot make them have the desired sentiments. Only the rankest ideologue could fail to see the difference …

Similarly, women, due to the unreliability of men, have had to provide the means for their own independence. This has simply given men the excuse for being even less concerned with women’s well-being. A dependent, weak woman is indeed vulnerable and puts herself at men’s mercy. But that appeal did influence a lot of men a lot of the time. The cure now prescribed for male irresponsibility is to make them more irresponsible. And a woman who can be independent of men has much less motive to entice a man into taking care of her and her children.

… All our reforms have helped strip the teeth of our gears, which can therefore no longer mesh. They spin idly, side by side, unable to set the social machine in motion. It is at this exercise in futility that young people must look when thinking about their future.

Women are pleased by their successes, their new opportunities, their agenda, their moral superiority. But underneath everything lies the more or less conscious awareness that they are still dual beings by nature, capable of doing most things men do and also wanting to have children. They may hope otherwise, but they fully expect to pursue careers, to have to pursue careers, while caring for children alone. And what they expect and plan for is likely to happen.

The men have none of the current ideological advantages of the women, but they can opt out without too much cost. In their relations with women they have little to say; convinced of the injustice of the old order, for which they were responsible, and practically incapable of changing the direction of the juggernaut, they wait to hear what is wanted, try to adjust but are ready to take off in an instant. They want relationships, but the situation is so unclear. They anticipate a huge investment of emotional energy that is just as likely as not to end in bankruptcy, to a sacrifice of their career goals without any clarity about what reward they will reap, other than a vague togetherness.

(4)  For more information

(a)  Other posts about this subject on the FM website:

  1. Women dominate the ranks of college graduates. What’s the effect on America?, 7 July 2009
  2. A better answer to “why women outperform men in college?”, 8 July 2009
  3. Update: women on top of men, 27 October 2009
  4. For links to all these articles see the FM reference page Women and gender issues.

(b)  Posts about America’s education system:

  1. College education in America, another broken business model, 3 July 2009
  2. The secret about our universities (seldom even whispered among Professors), 5 July 2009
  3. Women dominating the ranks of college graduates – What’s the effect on America?, 7 July 2009
  4. Is a college education worth a million dollars?, 10 July 2009
  5. What should a student learn from college? Why go to college?, 1 November 2009

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44 Comments leave one →
  1. Jackybird permalink
    8 July 2009 7:17 am

    A change like this may very well have multiple causes. I saw the original post yesterday but I didn’t read the comments so I hope I’m not repeating what someone else already said. Last I checked, which was probably a couple of years ago, the difference in earning potential between college educated women and non-college educated women was greater than that between college educated men and non-college educated men. The career options for non-college educated women were much more limited than for their male counterparts.

    It’s an interesting question which will continue to be debated. However, I think it’s an illusion to think that male and female roles ever were, or will be, stable, although they certainly change more quickly sometimes than others.

    Like

  2. smitty permalink
    8 July 2009 11:46 am

    FM: “The moral basis for men’s role in our society has disappeared.

    Not in my church. There may be some basis for the assertion in secular society, granted. But I submit/hope that this is by no means the whole of the discussion.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Yes. But as the divorce and illegitimate birth rates do not differ substantially between church-going and non- populations in America, I suspect the secular morality is dominant. I’ve read that the State with the lowest divorce rate is MA, probably one of the most secular.

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  3. senecal permalink
    8 July 2009 4:08 pm

    I sense here a new packaging of the familiar male revolt against the feminist revolution. First, the claim was that feminism was threatening males in their sense of identity and self-importance: that claim is now shifting to a concession that women actually have stronger motivations because of their higher or more socially useful values.

    I bought this argument a long time ago, and used to say, when I was working for a Japanese-American woman’s campaign for state legislature, “I support her BECAUSE she’s a woman”, (as opposed to her business-supported white male opponent.)

    With a few exceptions, on the national level this or similar views don’t hold up at all. Some of the coldest, most intolerant, violence-embracing politicians of the last three decades have been women — Margaret Thatcher, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton. Admittedly, these are no worse than their male counterparts like John Bolton and Richard Holbrooke, but no better either.

    Biology and laws, in this case, are secondary to the causal role of the system. The system finds actors and leaders where it needs to. The failure of the system to provide adequate wages on the single-breadwinner model is what led to the feminist movement in the first place. As women felt the pressure to augment their husband’s income, they developed the ideology that helped break down the legal and conventional barriers to women in the workplace.

    The same argument can be made about the election of an African-American as President. Evidently, this epochal, sea-change event on the social level has had no impact at all on the political or economic level.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This post describes economic determinism. Women need the money, and work harder. This effect is well-documented for men (note hours worked vs. family circumstances). Extending it to women seems unproblematic.

    You discuss something else, different political behavior as leaders. I see no factual basis for this whatsoever, but using that to discredit the know relationship is absurd IMO.

    The existence of one set of differences neither requires nor precludes differences in other areas of life. You might as well draw conclusions from women’s success as linebackers in the NFL to their success as national leaders.

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  4. FilthyRacist permalink
    8 July 2009 4:18 pm

    And while these women go abroad to find ‘more educated’ men, or perhaps ‘slum’ at home when they can’t, what do the men do? They become ‘farangs’ in places like Thailand, looking for lower-class, less educated young women, instead of dealing with the hassle of more educated women favored in marital relations.

    Usually, men with few prospects join militaries and go off to conquer, at present, as war becomes more mechanical, it is perfectly possible, and even likely that the dominant weapon on the battlefield will be a machine directed from afar by a female. Men’s traditional advantages do not hold in the current ‘industrialized’ physical competition (tazers, ICBMs, robot aircraft, etc)

    The Black Man’s Gift to Portugal” describes a similar situation. Portugal, at the height of its’ decadence expanded both immigration and women’s status. The women interbred with their negro slaves (pets), the men moved to the colonies and took local wives. The national culture and the empire rotted.

    Whether it’s right or wrong is up for hot debate, but it is relevant, and provides a perspective that wouldn’t otherwise be posted.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That article cites nothing — zip, nada — to support the author’s theory.

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  5. michael permalink
    8 July 2009 4:31 pm

    I find the absolutes interesting but mistaken. ALl marriages do not end in divorce, it is not without great cost to men, many men love and respect their wife’s and children and gladly sacrifice and earn for them. Many women still stay at home and still have the choice if they want it in many social circles women continue to have all the power to choose what to do with their lives, a choice for most responsible men they never had and still do not.

    Further there was no discussion on the effects of media and entertainment on the mindset of both men and women. Men have be told since childhood in the last 20 years that they are selfish, stupid, make consistently poor decisions, that girls are clever, smart, articulate decision makers in control of all situations sometimes directly sometimes through manipulation. All father figures in media and advertising are inept or stupid and child lie while all female figures are always portrayed as smart, wise, preferred, and always superior to any male rolls. Even in action adventure films with strong male stereotypes males still take a back seat in the story to the wiser smarter female. This has the long term effect of raising a generation of men with little self confidence, educated to believe they can be slackers and are expected to be irresponsible and under achievers. While at the same time a generation of empowered females have been taught they can do anything and deserve it and all examples and stereotypes show them in powerful, wise and strong roles, smarter, better decision makers and still sexy and care-takers at the same time.

    It’s no wonder fewer males are attending college and fewer are growing up to be responsible contributing adults. Feminism demands that they must be superior not equal and to achieve it they had to diminish males. They won, men have been diminished and devalued it’s a shame that they got what they wanted and men paid a heavy price. not equality but a reversal. Only without the respect prior generations tried to give women. Men are now consistently less than women, feminism loves it this way and the future seems to play out that all bad in the world will be men’s fault in the public mind all good attributed to female definitions.

    Another example is of when women break the law they are more forgiven for it shows strength and determination, when a woman rapes a boy it’s only a little bad after all the boy wanted it anyway we are told under the table. When a woman embezzles it is because of of her situation, men making her life hard etc. Women rarely are punished to the same extent as men even as they’re crime rates increase. But I will give them one point women are good at getting men to do things, and crime is not different. Women have been getting men to go to war and commit crimes since time began and then pretending they have no influence or part in it. That has not changed at all.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Re your opening paragraph, nobody said that “all marriages end in divorce.” As I said, all change occurs at the margins, and these are very clear trends — by now well-advanced. We ignore them at our peril.

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    • Valli Genevieve permalink
      18 June 2012 10:27 am

      It seems a logical fallacy to blame women for men’s poor performance in high school and college. I can’t speak for the world’s situation but in the United States, men seem lost. As work has moved from a physically based to a mentally based endeavor, women are now on an equal footing at the same time, (perhaps because it is leaving?) the culture is idealizing the manly, man with very macho images and very narrow bands of acceptable behavior, dress etc.

      I believe it is a temporary drift as men adjust to new realities but there is also a vigorous reactive /retrograde movement happening worldwide to try to force women back into traditional roles so that men do not have to change. If this movement succeeds, it would be a temporary but deeply destructive delay in adjusting/evolving as life changes.

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    • 18 June 2012 1:15 pm

      “It seems a logical fallacy to blame women for men’s poor performance in high school and college”

      What? Who does such a thing?

      There is a disproportionate level of school programs helping women, vs. those helping men. But pointing that out is not “blaming women”.

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  6. 8 July 2009 4:31 pm

    Only recently, here in California, the final ramparts have fallen. Even the wealthy male elites are finally at risk. It’s a variation of, “Then they came and took the middle class man’s children away, but I was not middle class.” It used to be that with enough high powered lawyering up, rich guys could still buy justice, and back a cranky wife down in divorce. No more.

    Coincidentally, now we hear calls for analysis and reform.

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  7. FxConde permalink
    8 July 2009 4:35 pm

    What we are seeing are symptoms of a much deeper problem. The relationship between men and women has become damaged and as all things in society it is a giant feedback loop. Why have men become unreliable? Why should they be? Women seem to be ok with it. The lack of negative feedback does not discourage the behaviour so it grows thus feeding the process. Women trust men less but give no negative or positive feedback to correct things, but they say “He’s so hot!” and so it goes. My Grandma told me once “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” or something along that line. Women have lost that control. They no longer have as much influence over the future as they once did. They have turned it over to day care. It may have alot to do with the “sexual revolution” causing us to turn inward and become more self centered for both Men and Women. The so called “sexual revolution” has had some unitended consequences which we only now are beginning to see.

    Time to pull out Kipling. From “Gods of the Copybook Headings”

    “On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.””

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    Fabius Maximus replies: This makes no sense to me.

    “Women have lost that control. They no longer have as much influence over the future as they once did. They have turned it over to day care.”

    Women dominate day care to an even greater extent than they do grade school education.

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  8. Tibby permalink
    8 July 2009 5:03 pm

    Bloom: “The souls of men —their ambitious, warlike, protective, possessive character—must be dismantled in order to liberate women from their domination.”

    They will exchange domination by Christian men for Muslim men. The performance by the “Western” powers in Afghanistan is anemic. It has been 8 years, no victory in sight. Feminism exists because of weak men. The war in Afghanistan is between men and pansies (Especially the British Army)

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  9. atheist permalink
    9 July 2009 12:08 am

    From the summary of this post: “The moral basis for men’s role in our society has disappeared, and the moral highground is decisive in the war between the sexes – just as it often is in 4th generation warfare.”

    Fabius, thank you for putting it that way. Your use of the metaphor, “the war between the sexes”, illuminates the matter from a new angle. It is true that the relationship between men and women could be considered a war. I think it would be a rather lopsided war akin to our war in Afghanistan. The men appear to have every conceivable advantage in terms of strength, money, weapons and organization. The women seem to be disadvantaged in every single way. Yet, on a moral, or emotional level, the situation is reversed and in fact the women are gaining ground.

    To continue this train of thought, many of the other commenters seem to want to double down in this “war of sexes”, calling for a more stringent emphasis on traditional gender roles. My suggestion for my fellow men in this “war” is just like my suggestion to my fellow Americans in Afghanistan: stop clinging to the ideal of machismo (male “victory”). It is not in your gender’s interest to go into “total war” mode. It is, instead, time to stop fighting and re-assess.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I recommend reading “The Myth of Male Power” by Warren Farrell. Women live longer, have greater wealth, far lower rate of occupational injuries, and many other objective indicators of well-being that exceed those of men. Might might have “every conceivable advantage”, but women seem to have a definite advantage in terms of results.

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  10. Ron R permalink
    9 July 2009 12:14 am

    I do not buy these arguments. I offer this alternative. Our one size fits all educational system is more nurturing of female intellectual development. The sit still and listen class room culture is favorable to behavioral characteristics that are more prevalent in the female population. Consider that most primary and middle school teachers are female. They teach the way they liked to learn. Large numbers of boys become bored and frustrated in an environment that punishes them for moving, exploring, and exhibiting creativity. Males are lost to education long before they get to college.

    Add to that a culture that is hostile to academically successful males (eggheads). Academic achievement is not socially rewarded in the male school age peer group. Boys that do well in school are subject to verbal and physical abuse. It takes a mentally and/or physically tough kid to not surrender to it.

    Like

  11. atheist permalink
    9 July 2009 12:19 am

    From #10: “Add to that a culture that is hostile to academically successful males (eggheads). Academic achievement is not socially rewarded in the male school age peer group. Boys that do well in school are subject to verbal and physical abuse.”

    Ron R., this is absolutely true, academically achieving boys are often abused. You might want to consider, though, that academically achieving (“nerdy”) girls are usually treated worse than the “nerdy” boys.

    Your comment about the misfit between the teaching styles of early-grade female teachers and the learning style of male students is interesting.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Do you have any evidence that “nerdy girls” are subject to worse abuse than “nerdy boys”? That sounds unlikely to me. Certainly with respect to physical abuse.

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  12. senecal permalink
    9 July 2009 12:32 am

    FM says the higher percentage of women in college, their better performance there, their stronger motivation due to their stronger social values, will have “profound effects” on us in the future. Maybe so, but not in the fields I care about. Will women political leaders make us less warlike, more compassionate? They haven’t yet. Will women stock traders be more concerned and careful for their clients, less apt to peddle lies? Not and survive in their profession. Will women change the class and power relationships of a society? One can hope, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: You lead an unusual life, with an extraordinarily narrow range of fields you “care about.” I’ll bet that these trends, if not reversed, will re-shape the world in ways we cannot now imagine.

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  13. senor tomas permalink
    9 July 2009 1:17 am

    Could be that women gravitate toward easier majors as compared to men. Mathematics, science and engineering are still male-dominated.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Please catch up to the 21st century. As has been said dozens of times so far on this thread, that is less true each year. The fraction of women of women taking math and science courses is over 50% in high school, and rapidly increasing at all levels in universities (off low bases).

    Like

  14. anna nicholas permalink
    9 July 2009 1:48 am

    Having interviewed , provided work-experience , employed , and listened to on public transport , a number of women , the pattern I see for most is : 11:Puberty .12: Boys . 16: Pushed into educational adventure , told to compete in rat race , drift into career .20: Find Man ( or State Benefits ).23: Kids .Retire from rat race with sigh of releif .40: Empty nest , ready for big adventure , rat race now looks exciting . Most doors , including education , now shut in face , as ” too old ” . 41 : Decide daughter can rat race for you . Push daughter ..
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    Fabius Maximus replies: An interesting vision, but contradicted by the facts. It’s the past, increasingly not the present, almost certainly not the future.

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  15. atheist permalink
    9 July 2009 9:51 am

    FM reply to 11: “Do you have any evidence that “nerdy girls” are subject to worse abuse than “nerdy boys”? That sounds unlikely to me. Certainly with respect to physical abuse.”

    After looking around the internet a bit, I see that the question, “Who is bullied worse, nerdy boys or nerdy girls?” is not any easy one to formulate, much less answer.

    So let me personalize the statement. Where I went to school, I saw nerdy girls being treated even worse than the nerdy boys. The nerds were on the bottom of the social order. The nerdy girls, by virtue of being girls, were below the nerdy boys, the bottom of the bottom.

    You may be right, though, that the males received more direct physical violence.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This the problem with first person evidence of such things. In my school there was no abuse of nerdy girls, at least on a level visible to guys.

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  16. joey permalink
    9 July 2009 11:01 am

    From Fight Club:
    The Dude will abide
    The Big Lebowski
    Women – Is there another women?
    Man – Don’t you understand I just want to be left alone Happiness
    We are a generation of men raised by women, and we are angry

    3 good films that explore some of the issues touched upon in the above post.

    Like

  17. 9 July 2009 2:44 pm

    School design remains a large portion of female success. Girls outnumber boys 2-1 on the honor roll as early as 5th grade (check it yourself in your local paper if you don’t believe me). I think it unlikely that 5th grade girls are planning their adult career and mating prospects with any accuracy at that point.

    The trends FM notes may indeed be precisely what is happening in greater society, overwhelming whatever we do with the schools. And the change in schools may indeed only reflect, not create the changes in greater society. But we can’t draw many conclusions about boys’ academic success as long as schools are so brutally stacjed against them.

    I’m an ex-feminist who is the father of five boys, four grown, BTW.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I disagree. Children are raised from an early age with awareness of the relative moral stature — soldiers, doctors, men, fathers, women. These things are among the earliest things children absorb from tv, movies, and school. And they strongly shape children’s behavior.

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  18. senecal permalink
    9 July 2009 4:15 pm

    FM comment on # 12: “You lead an unusual life, with an extraordinarily narrow range of fields you “care about.

    Power and class relations in society, military foreign policy, unproductive business practices — I guess these are a “narrow range of fields” to care about. I could be interested in sports, confusing sexual roles, decline of traditional values, demographic trends, etc. Actually I am, but have no opinion about them.

    However, this is a mea culpa. I frequently clash with FM over what I sense are stalking horse conservative social positions, but in truth I agree with him twice as often as I disagree, and respect his superior learning to mine in many fields. Furthermore, I realize this is not a forum for hashing out leftist issues, but for bringing new lights to a generally conservative readership. I am all for that, and will try to mind my tongue in future posts.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That was not intended as a criticism, but an observation that the domain of life is large — beyond the 3 dimensions you mentioned: war/peace, “stock traders” (i.e., business behavior), class and power relationships. For example, did the invention of autos and contraceptives primarily affect society through these 3 domains? I don’t think so.

    “to a generally conservative readership”

    What is your evidence for this? The primary subjects covered are military and wars, almost exclusively critical of the conservative positions. The 2nd subject with the most content is economics (the current crisis), again with material deeply critical of the conservative (neo-Hooverist) consensus. Also, my impression is that the most frequent commenters tend to be left-of-center.

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  19. atheist permalink
    9 July 2009 6:32 pm

    From #17: “But we can’t draw many conclusions about boys’ academic success as long as schools are so brutally stacjed against them.”

    Assistant Village Idiot, I have no idea what you might be talking about here. Indeed, I have found most of the anger expressed against schools, and the supposed anti-male character of schools, to be quite strange. It does not resemble what I experienced at school. It is possible that I went to a different kind of school than everyone else, but while I had problems in schools, they did not have much to do with my maleness. My issue with school was that it was too pointlessly competitive.

    Not to say y’all are necessarily wrong, but you do seem to be describing a very different school system than what I experienced.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I am always astonished at the degree to which people assume their experience — often decades in the past — represents the average experience today in America. Change happens!

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  20. 9 July 2009 6:53 pm

    It occurs to me that there are two distinct time scales to this analysis. Over short time frames, women will adapt to incentives, risks, and so on, just like men. Over generations however, a second function unique to women emerges, and ultimately dominates. That would be making babies. No matter whether genetics, or culture induced, whichever women pump out lots of kids will eventually define the world of the future. We are now seeing the short term adaptation to incentives playing out, mistakenly supposing this is the key determinant of events. For predicting the future, ask which types of women are having lots of babies. Whoever these are, the future will soon be populated with similar versions of them. The hand that rocks the cradle does not rule the world,. The hand that fills the cradles does.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: There are two replies to this. First, you might be wrong. I suggest you read some of the reports on the FM reference page Demography – studies & reports. Fewer women are having children, and they increasingly outsource raising them to day care centers and schools.

    Second, you might be right. Perhaps feminism is an self-correcting (or self-negating) social abberation. Societies that adopt this ideology might be replaced by patriarchial societies with higher fertility levels. No matter how unjust, perhaps Mother Nature does not give a damn.

    Like

  21. 9 July 2009 8:47 pm

    Two separate issues. The larger culture has indeed been male dominated, and some of this will continue for quite awhile. School culture is another matter. I am not talking impressions here, but data. Farrell, Shanahan, Lionel Tiger, Sommers, all run out the data (with varying objectivity). From earliest years, girls average a half-lettergrade higher. Male dropout rates are higher. Female award rates are higher. It is the disconnect between the heavily female-favoring school environment and the more neutral, or even male-favoring larger culture, that fuels much of the anger. The girls get the rug pulled after succeeding at the assigned tasks, because the assigned tasks were not the right ones for adulthood. The rules change.

    This may actually be an advantage to the brighter boys, many of whom have gone the autodidact route long before – but it is brutal to the less-favored boys, who often drop out to poor prospects. Once those boys have been “culled” from the ranks, the remaining boys perform about as well as the girls, and even pass them in attainment starting late in college and continuing into graduate schools. This is more pronounced in math and science, but not peculiar to them.

    Like

  22. BCE permalink
    9 July 2009 9:03 pm

    With the races, it is easy to see that the distribution of IQ is different. Ashkenazi Jews have higher IQ means than East Asians who have higher IQ means than Europeans who have higher IQ means than west Asians and North Africans and American indigenes, who have higher IQ means than Sub Saharan Africans who have higher IQ means than Australian aborigines.

    Between the sexes it is more difficult to separate the overall IQ score, but spatial ability score means are easily separated between males and females.

    Despite the invalid but much-quoted 2007 Scientific American article, the distribution of female minds in spatial ability is different than the distribution of male minds. Within the professions that are dense with mathematical applications, males will always dominate because of this innate, intrinsic difference. Only prenatal hormonal treatments and periodic hormonal adjustments during childhood and adolescence could change this distribution mismatch.

    Try to get beyond political correctness on this issue and look to the underlying science. It will make you unpopular with the anti-scientific but ultimately suicidal left. But it will open another much clearer window on the world as it is.

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  23. anna nicholas permalink
    9 July 2009 10:45 pm

    How about my theory for today , that kids are just plain spoilt ? Its the summer hols now and my clients bring their kids . Stand on my seats . Whisper/giggle in corners. Start trolling through my computor . Ask loud demanding questions of me when I am discussing something else with their parents . Tell me my job . Contradict everything parent says , as stridently/rudely as possible .
    Thats the girls .
    The boys are no hassle . They are absorbed in some sort of electronic game . When parent leaves ,he/she silently guides boy in required direction , avoiding obstacles , with little pushes and tugs , because boy is entirely absent , eyes fixed on the little screen .

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  24. Bingo Corius Exigenus permalink
    9 July 2009 10:54 pm

    As stated before, the innate and intrinsic differences between male and female brains places a limit on the number of women who are capable of producing high quality work in the hard sciences. A wise society would adapt its policies to those realities.

    We must rise above stagnating political correctness in order to study the universe as it is. The current attempts to force the universe into what it clearly is not will be the undoing of the modern left.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That is an assertion without even a trace of hard evidence to support it. That does not mean that your statement is incorrect, just that your certainty about it is excessive.

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  25. 10 July 2009 2:53 am

    The IQ bell curve is a tricky construct. Not useless, but fraught with dangerous potential if used in cavalier ways to defend various societal engineering optimization assertions. It’s part of a larger can of worms. It turns out most compulsive gamblers are literally mentally ill. Criminal scam artists use their intelligence and skill to victimize the dull, and the senescent segments of society. The PC “Third Rail” aspect of these issues, combined with powerful special interests who benefit from the status quo is a real problem. The theory of distributions has more utility in identifying the vulnerable among us, and providing a starting point for their protection from predators, than it has in supporting Darwinian social meritocracy arguements.

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  26. Walter Norris permalink
    10 July 2009 11:42 am

    Spock: “There is the old Vulcan proverb: only Nixon could go to China.”
    Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

    Like

  27. 10 July 2009 12:54 pm

    FM, I didn’t want to kick the host, but you seem determined to put your chin out. Bingo is absolutely correct about male/female brain differences, starting with brain size and more connection between the two sides for females. So you might want to hesitate before using extreme “not a trace” statements.

    It is my experience in discussing male-female school/intelligence/success issues, that until people experience the cognitive dissonance of seeing the data, they tend to simply rely on their confirmation bias for everything they read in the popular press or hear in conversation. I started college in 1971, and was assured by professors (and female students) across many disciplines – education, psychology, literature, history, sociology, anthropology – that there were not innate differences and societal expectations drove male-female divergence. I believed it for many years. But it’s not true.

    You have no reason to take my word for it. Even if I listed my credentials in the area, I find that people who want to hold a set of beliefs hold them, and find a way to dismiss any credential. (I’ll list them if someone wants, but it’s seldom useful.) But I encourage you to seek out the the data.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Bingo’s comment #24 is not “absolutely correct about male/female brain differences” because he his assertion is not about brain differences — but about their effects.

    Bingo: “As stated before, the innate and intrinsic differences between male and female brains places a limit on the number of women who are capable of producing high quality work in the hard sciences.”

    There is much debate among experts about this, discussed in the previous post of this series. For a review of some studies I recommend starting with “Sex, Math and Scientific Achievement“, Scientific American, December 2007 — “Why do men dominate the fields of science, engineering and mathematics?” It also includes this note:

    Although it has drawn little media coverage, dramatic changes have been occurring among these junior math wizards {SAT Math scores > 700}: the relative number of girls among them has been soaring. The ratio of boys to girls, first observed at 13 to 1 in the 1980s, has been dropping steadily and is now only about 3 to 1.

    I agree, there is no reason to take your word on it over that of experts who disagree. No matter how wonderful your credentials. Esp as you do not accurately describe the consensus in this field.

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    • Valli Genevieve permalink
      28 May 2012 8:46 pm

      It seems to me that we have to be so careful about assumed effects. Traditionally, most symphonies were dominated by men. It was emphatically and continuously declared that there was no prejudice involved, they were just superior players. This was true until the day that they started having screened auditions, then suddenly, women became much much better and now hold half the symphony positions.

      We are in a new era, physical strength is no longer required for most jobs, putting women on an equal footing with men. But we are filled with “beliefs”, prejudices, uneasiness and uncertainty. This change in society is monumental, beyond that, we don’t know. My hope is that there will not be a simple reversal of fortunes, women on top, men on bottom, but instead a mutual blossoming, where men can go in the direction they are called as much as women. But in the meantime, we have a generation of lost boys and very focused girls.

      Like

  28. Cantos permalink
    10 July 2009 2:41 pm

    The Assistant Village Idiot and Bingo have it quite right. Naturally the ratio of 13 to 1 is excessively skewed toward males, just as the ratio of 3 to 1 is excessively skewed in the other direction. The actual ratio is approximately 3.3 to 1. The disagreement you speak of is largely political, for the benefit of government funding agencies.

    Many billions of dollars are spent attempting to push girls into the sciences and engineering disciplines. No similar outreaches are devoted to helping boys achieve their potential. In fact, the entire educational establishment curricula of the US from the very earliest pre schooling to graduate and post-graduate education have been progressively altered to favor the female student.

    You are quite behind the eight ball on this particular topic, unless you are pretending ignorance for the sake of ideological purity. Such a preferential environment for girls is likely to reduce performance of boys while propping up the numbers for girls.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Can you provide any supporting evidence for the assertions in your first paragraph? I agree with the 2nd paragraph, which is obvious to anyone reading the 2 posts in this series — which makes your 3rd paragraph quite odd.

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  29. Buckaroo Banzai permalink
    10 July 2009 5:42 pm

    “Women have lost that control. They no longer have as much influence over the future as they once did. They have turned it over to day care.”
    FM: “{That makes no sense to me. Women dominate day care to an even greater extent than they do grade school education.

    I think the interesting distinction here is between children of one family raised at home by their mother, versus children of many families raised in a day-care center by women who are not the mothers of the children involved. There are two degrees of difference operating here: first, the difference between individual responsibility for raising one’s own children, vs. collective responsibility for raising a group’s children. Second, the difference between a mother vs. a mother surrogate.

    Collectivism, as a rule, generally fails in almost every endeavor. And mother surrogates, no matter how well-intentioned, can never fully substitute for a mother’s care.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I believe that the nuclear family, with a mother providing care for her own children, is just one of the many child-rearing strategies used by humans.
    * Very often there is collective care, as women work in the fields.
    * Even in modern times we saw this in Israel’s Kibbutz.
    * Rich folks have very often out-sourced care of their children to nannies and bording schools (a collective). In fact, the increased use of day care might be seen as a result of rising incomes in America — as we copy this common pattern.

    So I suspect your last paragraph is not correct. Do you have any supporting evidence?

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  30. anna nicholas permalink
    10 July 2009 9:03 pm

    Of the 8 women of child bearing age I employ , one is off , having just had baby and two are about to produce . Two still working are pregnant . Hopefully the other 3 will not conceive just yet , as will be too tired to mate after doing 8 peoples work . Apparently there is an Uk birth surge ( 20 % ) ,since the recession started . If recession tends to turn people back to core values , I may not be as out of date on women’s aspirations as FM thinks .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: First person observations are useless as evidence of social trends. Also, do you have a link for the surge in UK births? There are rumors of a baby burst and a baby bust. The only real data I see is this: “1 IN 5 UK BIRTHS IS TO A MUM FROM ABROAD“, Daily Express, 26 June 2009 — Excerpt:

    More than one in five of children born in Britain in 2007 had a mother born overseas – a total of 160,300 compared with 529,700 for British-born mothers. In the London boroughs of Newham and Brent, 74.8% and 72 per cent of all births were to foreign-born women. The increase – well above the 6.4% rise in numbers of births among British-born women – is because more immigrants are coming to live in the UK, said the Office for National Statistics.

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  31. 11 July 2009 2:13 am

    As to effects, the bell curve for males is flatter, creating more members at both tails. Check out the membership lists of the ultra-high IQ societies, for example. Even if it is now less than 13:1, 3:1 is still a helluva advantage, especially considering the social push to put females into those fields.

    Additionally, those increases for females parallel an increase in grades across all disciplines, which certainly suggests something has changed in the schools, not our genes. If students are taught by methods which favor females, so that the overall honors ratio is 2:1 and high honors 3:1, a continuing male advantage of 3:1 is quite simply, enormous. That it has shrunk from 13:1 is about what one would predict from those other numbers.

    That’s fascinating Scientific American article. The initial summary states * Women, on average, have stronger verbal skills (especially in writing) and better memory for events, words, objects, faces and activities. (What Bingo and I said – those are effects)
    * Men generally are better at mentally manipulating objects and at performing certain quantitative tasks that rely on visual representations. (What Bingo and I said – those are effects)
    * Intervention studies are still in their infancy but suggest both sexes can benefit from targeted training to improve their skill set. (Notice the words “infancy” and “suggest.”)

    The evidence of targeted training is indeed meager, the Ann Arbor study admitted of other interpretations. The Swedish sexism accusation does not show what it claims to. The SA article is also stuffed with posited 1. unconscious sexism – rather a nifty escape, as no evidence can ever refute it. 2. Discussions of family duties – not very germane to MS and HS students, and 3. asking us to consider how top female scientists feel.

    Your first reply to me, FM was “Children are raised from an early age with awareness of the relative moral stature — soldiers, doctors, men, fathers, women. These things are among the earliest things children absorb from tv, movies, and school. And they strongly shape children’s behavior.” Rubbish. An enormous portion of the “evidence” for that POV is a retrospective conclusion based on unequal outcomes. Trying to actually provide solid evidence for environmental factors driving those differences has proved remarkably difficult. After picking off the low-hanging fruit of how societal attitudes affect behavior, there hasn’t been much movement. A genetic core seems quite recalcitrant to intervention.

    As you have made the high-environment claim, the burden is on you to support it.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I said that there was a debate, not which side was correct. As for the rest, much of your comment consists of are assertions about aspects of the debate, stated as facts. That gives me little confidence in your expertise.

    IMO the key fact is in your first paragraph: the distribution of attributes between the sexes. This is nicely explained using non-technical terms in the first article given in this post (how wonderful to be lectured about the content in articles I cite in the post): “Is There Anything Good About Men?“, Roy F. Baumeister (Professor of Psychology at Florida State U), 2007 meeting of the American Psychological Association. This is IMO absurdly obvious, yet ignored in most of these discussions (it’s mentioned several times on this site). Excerpt:

    Almost certainly, it is something biological and genetic. And my guess is that the greater proportion of men at both extremes of the IQ distribution is part of the same pattern. Nature rolls the dice with men more than women. Men go to extremes more than women. It’s true not just with IQ but also with other things, even height: The male distribution of height is flatter, with more really tall and really short men.

    Again, there is a reason for this, to which I shall return. For now, the point is that it explains how we can have opposite stereotypes. Men go to extremes more than women. Stereotypes are sustained by confirmation bias. Want to think men are better than women? Then look at the top, the heroes, the inventors, the philanthropists, and so on. Want to think women are better than men? Then look at the bottom, the criminals, the junkies, the losers.

    In an important sense, men really are better AND worse than women. A pattern of more men at both extremes can create all sorts of misleading conclusions and other statistical mischief. To illustrate, let’s assume that men and women are on average exactly equal in every relevant respect, but more men at both extremes. If you then measure things that are bounded at one end, it screws up the data to make men and women seem significantly different.

    Consider grade point average in college. Thanks to grade inflation, most students now get A’s and B’s, but a few range all the way down to F. With that kind of low ceiling, the high-achieving males cannot pull up the male average, but the loser males will pull it down. The result will be that women will get higher average grades than men — again despite no difference in average quality of work.

    “After picking off the low-hanging fruit of how societal attitudes affect behavior, there hasn’t been much movement. A genetic core seems quite recalcitrant to intervention.”

    All I said was “strongly influenced.” I don’t know how you interpret that, but if you are attributing the vast majority of women’s educational and occupational patterns — the subject of this post — to genes, you have quite a task explaining the vast changes of the past few generations.

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  32. Pete permalink
    11 July 2009 4:28 am

    Tibby in comment #8: “The war in Afghanistan is between men and pansies (Especially the British Army).”

    Tibby, on what basis are you making this statement, what evidence? I am not in the armed forces in Afghanistan (thought I volunteered,several times, I was too old), but know people who have served there, and a relative is currently stationed in Baghdad. All have spoken well of British and Commonwealth soldiers, and their performance of whatever the mission happens to be. This is, admittedly, nothing like a scientific sample on my part, but it is at odds with your statement. Are you perhaps making your statement on the basis of the performance of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy in that Iranian hostage crisis a while back?

    Anemic performance seems to me the least of the reasons our forces are in A-stan after eight years; wouldn’t Lind and other 4GW experts argue that it is because the western nations do not have a coherent strategy tied to attainable goals? We are fighting in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world, against tribal opponents who have not lost a war in centuries, having defeated everyone from Alexander the Great to the British and Soviet Empires. Steven Pressfield’s blog, noted elsewhere in this website, is a good place to start for an examination of this problem.

    As an aside, I have heard that Bundeswehr (German army) forces in Afghanistan are prohibited from firing their weapons. This story may be apocryphal, I don’t know…. but it illustrates the mindset of some of the NATO forces. Others, the Danes, the Dutch, Polish, and more – have fought well. So it is premature to declare western men “pansies,” IMHO.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: There is an easier explanation. Afghanistan has a population of 33 million. Expecting an army of 100 thousand (NATO’s IASF is 68 thousand, plus the rapidly growing US forces) to have much effect is a bit delusional. For details about the limitations on NATO operations see this UPI article.

    Like

  33. Andrew permalink
    11 July 2009 4:31 am

    FM in #2: “But as the divorce and illegitimate birth rates do not differ substantially between church-going and non- populations in America, I suspect the secular morality is dominant. I’ve read that the State with the lowest divorce rate is MA, probably one of the most secular.

    Lowest divorce rates in the US are among Catholics and atheists/seculars. That, is Massachusetts, and more generally northern Yankeedom from Maine to Pennsylvania and out to the Dakotas. Highest divorce rates are among blacks and evangelical whites. That is, the South. The evangelical population’s high incidence of divorce evens out the Catholics low incidence.

    This is a phenomena of major differences among followers of different religious beliefs, not a secular and religious have no differences phenomena.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Meaningful analysis of secular/religious differences looks at smaller populations to control for other factors — such as age, regional culture and ethnicity.

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  34. Andrew permalink
    11 July 2009 4:44 am

    Pete #32:

    The war in Afghanistan, like all wars, will be settled by who is willing to kill to impose their will and who wants to blink, turn, and run instead. The West has not been willing to kill on a massive scale to attain its military goals since World War II, and really, since World War I.

    Our detention of armed terrorists in a tropical paradise for 8 years in Guantanamo, instead of simply summarily executing them upon capture, speaks to this mentality. Our soldiers are certainly willing enough to kill – IF GIVEN THE CHANCE – but our officers and politicians are not. With pansy leaders facing off against manly leaders, the outcome is obvious and foreknown.

    When Europeans and their descendants were willing to kill to settle conflict, they used their massive edge in military inventions and fertility to expand from the tiny corner of Europe to completely resettle the Americas, southern Siberia, Austrailia and New Zealand, and to begin the process in north Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Morrocco), and southern Africa (South Africa, Rhodesia, Mozambique, Namibia). In the past 65 years, with no willingness to kill directly, Europeans and European colonial lands have begun to be overrun by the masses of Africa, India, and China. Its plainly obvious who will ultimately prevail as long as the west maintains the pansy mentality.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Astonishing how often folks trot out this absurd explanation, despite its lack of historical accuracy. Foreigners fighting 4gw’s vs. locals have found and lost since WWII, despite often using force up to the level of genocide. Saying that these wars were lost due to “no willingness to kill directly” displays astonishing ignorance of post-WWII history.

    From chapter 6.2 in Martin van Creveld’s “Changing Face of War” (2006), speaking of these foreign vs. local wars:

    What is known, though, is that attempts by post-1945 armed forces to suppress guerrillas and terrorists have constituted a long, almost unbroken record of failure … {W}hat changed was the fact that, whereas previously it had been the main Western powers that failed, now the list included other countries as well. Portugal’s explusion from Africa in 1975 was followed by the failure of the South Africans in Namibia, the Ethiopians in Ertrea, the Indians in Sri Lanka, the Americans in Somalia, and the Israelis in Lebanon. … Even in Denmark {during WWII}, “the model protectorate”, resistance increased as time went on.

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  35. Rendrew permalink
    11 July 2009 7:49 pm

    This is almost too obvious to mention, but the host seems to have neglected this most salient fact:

    Women have flocked to medicine, law, psychology, etc. and are beginning to dominate these fields. Although they have been welcome in science, engineering, and computer science programs for several decades, and are receiving fantastic incentives to enter those math intensive fields — incentives which boys are denied — they are even close to dominating fields that demand intensive math skills. The rapid shift “from 13:1 down to 3:1″ has stabilized and would have begun to reverse if not for widespread discrimination against boys across the US educational systems.

    When all of these fields are open to women, and have been for several decades, why have they flocked to some but shunned others? Because they are good at some and not so good at others. People enjoy feeling that they are effective at their job. If given the choice, most persons will not choose to be mediocre in comparison with co-workers. In math intensive fields, women are too often mediocre, whereas in people intensive and communication intensive fields women can play first fiddle.

    Genetics underlies human culture and human choices. Denial of genetics is politically correct and popular at this time. When you swim with the current you may not even notice it.

    Yes, I could claim that water is wet and the sky is blue, but if I did not supply documentation you might not accept those wild claims.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This is an odd comment, on several levels — and not at all obvious.
    * You assume that women’s entry into every field should happen simultaneously (bizarre).
    * You ignore that the US women were 48.3% of US citizens enrolled in US Science and Engineering graduate programs in 2007..
    * You ignore that the US women’s participation in science and engineering is steadily rising, up 5% since 2000 (from 46.0% to 48.3).
    Source: National Science Foundation)

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  36. Corrigan permalink
    12 July 2009 3:59 am

    There is something very deceptive about FM’s reply to comment #35. He makes a claim that “US women were 48.3% of US citizens enrolled in US Science and Engineering graduate programs in 2007″ but neglects to perform 2 crucial services for readers:

    1. Look at all women vs. all men enrolled in US Science and Engineering graduate programs in 2007, regardless of citizenship.
    2. Provide a breakdown of the different programs within science and engineering, with the proportion of women students.

    Had FM provided that most basic service, you would have learned that in the math heavy sciences and disciplines, women are still at roughly 25% or below, virtually unchanged over his given time span. At the very highest levels of math heavy sciences and disciplines, of course, the proportion of women shrinks to roughly 10%. That is with significant private and government support to boost the levels of women, since sometime prior to 1990.

    When looking at Fields Medals for mathematics over 100 years, there have been 0 women recipients. Zilch. At that rarefied level of mathematical performance, one would expect one female winner roughly every 100 years. We continue to wait.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The discussion is about US culture, US society. To see this requires looking at only US citizens and permanent residents. There is nothing misleading about this. The many foreigners attending our colleges (increasing numbers of which return home afterwards) are irrelevant, reflecting conditions in their society — not ours.

    (2) “When looking at Fields Medals for mathematics over 100 years”

    (a) The Fields Metal was first awarded in 1936, only 73 years ago (Wikipedia).
    (b) Only 16 have been awarded. Women might thoroughly dominate math, yet the Fields Metal still go only to men. We’re discussing broad social effects, not the top .00001%.
    (c) Most important, Corrigan’s relentless focus on the past is sad in this context, with our society in the midst of such rapid changes. The question is what will happen in the future, not what has happened in the past. Jesse Douglas was born in 1987 and won the Fields Metal in 1936. How many of the girls born in 1897 had the opportunity to study advanced mathematics?

    (3) “That is with significant private and government support to boost the levels of women, since sometime prior to 1990.”

    The “girls opppressed by schools” fad caught the public imagination with the 1992 UUAW study “How Schools Shortchange Girls“. If it took 3 years for the first programs to hit the schools, the first girl was affected in 1995 (then 15 years old, entering 10th grade). It’s early days in the revolution.

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  37. anna nicholas permalink
    12 July 2009 6:34 pm

    FM wants data not annecdote ,re everything ;but in this case re 20 % increase birth rate UK . This was in my local newspaper . On line are a number of similar headlines from various local newspapers , but no sources quoted . Interestingly ,
    * I dont know if Google ranks stuff by hits , but if so they have a problem with older info getting high on hit list just because its been there longer .
    *Or if Gov has no stats more recent than 2007 .
    In which case they are in for a nasty shock in maternity wards this autumn , judging by the number of pregnant women that seem to be about now . However , they are used to nasty shocks now , such as that Afghanistan is inhabited , and bankrupt businesses dont pay taxes.
    *The current ( ie 2007 ) increase is generally blamed on immigrants – 1 in 4 births are to someone not born in this country . My A level advanced Math of many years ago having forsaken me ,I’m unsure whether this truly supports a conclusion that the native birthrate has not increased .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Can you show us any of these headlines? Also:
    * The inpact of immigrants (who have far higher fertility than natives) on national fertility rates is a well-established fact by now. You can read the expert’s reports, rather than relying on you A-level math (see the FM reference page “Demography – studies & reports“)
    * Google News does not have that problem.

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  38. anna nicholas permalink
    12 July 2009 9:06 pm

    Tibby , 289 British “pansies ” have died , and many crippled , in your stupid wars .

    Like

  39. Deep Think permalink
    17 June 2012 12:14 am

    I think I have uncovered the main reason females work harder than males. I interviewed hundreds of females and asked them if they had ever been told that there’s an ole boy’s network out there and if they don’t out perform males they won’t get their fair share of high paying jobs. 99% of them admitted having been told this numerous times. Therefor females are highly motivated by fear of wasting their education and not getting high paying jobs if they don’t out shine males. therefor look no further for why girls work harder than boys. The solution would be to start telling the boys that they need to do at least as well as girls if they want to get their fair of high paying jobs. thus males will start working just as hard and the gender gap will close.

    Deep think

    Like

  40. 26 October 2013 7:57 pm

    What a terrible article. You (the author) clearly don’t understand trending, provide no evidence (aside from opinion pieces), and you extrapolate wildly about the future as if you understand statistics!

    Please stop writing, you’re hurting everyone.

    Like

    • 26 October 2013 8:17 pm

      Oz,

      This looks like spam. Vague denunciations, strongly worded, no specifics, contradicted by material in the post (i.e., gives no evidence that Oz read the post).

      It is also wrong.

      (1). “Provides no evidence”

      (a). That is a reading FAIL. The into states that this is a follow-up post: “Yesterday’s post examined the evidence that women are outperforming men in college …” To keep these brief, analysis on the FM website is often presented in chapters, with their interlocking role clearly stated.

      (b). This post cites (and links to) the US govt’s 2007 data book “Women in the Labor Force”.

      (2). “aside from opinion pieces”

      The second excerpt is from a humanity professor’s book, and so is an opinion. The first is from a presentation at a meeting of the American Psychological Association, discussing current research. I don’t believe that is what most people consider an “opinion piece”.

      Like

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