Monday, January 19, 2015

The pretence of knowledge in gender.

This is an analysis of "Boardroom equality progress too slow" an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The business establishment of every country tends to be conservative."
Really? Where is your evidence for that?

"Sudden change in factors such as interest rates or government regulations and policies, tends to make the most senior levels of our private-sector bureaucracies fret and complain."
No changes that are bad for their business tend to make them complain.  I've never once heard a complaint of a change that benefits them.

"Though businesspeople may cite the virtues of the market, they rarely welcome its effects on their own turf. Change, as a rule, is something to be avoided."
The fact that businesses spend millions of dollars lobbying for changes suggest you're talking rubbish.

"Thus it is not surprising – though it is genuinely disappointing – that despite 40 years and more of urging, the senior levels of Australian business remain overwhelmingly male."
Well actually it's heartening that business doesn't make decisions on the basis of "urging".  If there had been 40 years of EVIDENCE and nothing had happened that would be disappointing.

"a survey of our business leaders found they agree wholeheartedly that more women in senior management would be a good thing. "
Well of course, it's the view people are told is good.

"The chief argument against quotas is that the less talented may be promoted over the more talented. "
Actually the argument is that the less ABLE may be promoted over the most ABLE.  What degree of that ability is due to talent is irrelevant.

"What is the talent, exactly, that is being measured here?"
Well again it's ability not talent that's important here.  But the ability is presumably the ability to run a business well. 

"Is it all-round ability, or is it simple aggression – overwhelmingly a male trait? Certainly many male CEOs have an abundance of that – but are they the best leaders?"
Well if you have any evidence that they aren't and that that is due to them being selected on the basis of aggression, show it.  Oh wait, this is a pro-feminist editorial, evidence is considered gauche.

"The leadership styles of women and men differ. Women executives tell exasperated anecdotes of being sent (by male superiors) on management courses to learn how to relate better to their staff."
Exasperated tales?  Why would they be exasperated?  Surely they understand this is an important skill?  If they believe that they already possess it why weren't they able to communicate that to their bosses?  Perhaps these women are unaware of how badly they suck at relating to their staff.  Evidently they aren't aware of how much they suck at relating to their bosses.  Of course if they were NOT sent on training courses merely because they were women, that would be sexist.

"What the courses (run often enough by men) teach is how they can empathise and communicate more easily with others – skills which men find arcane and difficult to master, but which come easily to women."
I see so it's OK to assume women have greater skill in an area, but to assume men have greater skill would be anathema.

"Male executives, in other words, know these are useful traits for managers – yet they apparently have not noticed that women already possess them. "
They have not noticed that THESE WOMEN possess them.  Maybe because they don't.  Or because they're sending everyone, women and men, to the same courses so they don't get sued.

"It suggests that the idea of talent, when it comes to senior management roles, may unthinkingly be defined in ways which disadvantage or exclude women."
Well no, it suggests nothing of the kind.  It in fact suggests that they value a skill you say women are better at.  Whether it also suggests they don't know how to recognise that skill is a different matter.

"There is no need to imagine some active misogynist conspiracy is afoot to keep women out of power. "
Indeed not, it might be due to different career patterns, different values, different distributions of intelligence etc. 

"All that is needed for businesses to stay in this destructive, talent-wasting rut is a shared lack of imagination "
But you haven't actually shown any talent being wasted.  All you've shown is a possible explanation how it might be.  You haven't defined or measured talent or ability let alone shown that either is being wasted by the current system.

" As we reported, Australia's biggest firms perform worse than smaller ones: less than 20 per cent of managers reporting to the CEO in the top 200 public companies are women; the figure in all companies with more than 100 employees is nearly 30 per cent."
And does that fit with your thesis that it's masculinity that's being rewarded?  Not really.  There's no reason why masculinity would be more valued in places that can afford the best and where judging ability is most important.

What the figures would fit is the gender difference being due to IQ differences.  CEOs of the top 200 companies are in the top 1 percent of business jobs.  It makes sense that they would be near the top in intelligence.  But the further you get, up or down, from the mean IQ the more men outnumber women.  At the intelligence levels necessary to become a top 200 CEO men might well outnumber women by 5-1 or thereabouts. 

"In the boys' own world of Australian business, a person with talent is simply understood to be a person who acts like a man. "
You haven't shown ANY evidence of that.

" Leaving the free market to carry out reforms will only work if the market can see some short-term balance-sheet advantage in it.  "
First of all rubbish, firms act on long-term considerations quite a lot.  Secondly why wouldn't hiring the best be a short-term balance sheet advantage?  If it isn't that a far more serious problem than the sausagefest that is big business leadership.