Tag Archives: discrimination

Richard Nisbett

[Y]ou can’t prove whether discrimination is going on in an organization—or a society—by statistics. You often read about “glass ceilings” for women in a given field or about disproportionate school suspensions of boys or minorities. The intimation—often the direct accusation—is that discrimination is at work. But numbers alone won’t tell the story. We don’t know that as many women as men have the qualifications or desire to be partners in law firms or high-level executives in corporations. And we have some pretty good reasons to believe that girls and boys are not equally likely to engage in behavior warranting suspension from school.

Not so long ago, it was common to attribute women’s lower representation in graduate school and faculty rosters to discrimination. And there certainly was discrimination. I know; I was there. I was privy to the conversations the men had about admitting women to grad school or hiring them onto faculties. “Go after the guy; women are too likely to drop out.” Bugged conversations would have proved what raw statistics, comparing percentage of men and women hired, could not.

But nowadays 60 percent of college graduates are women, and they constitute a majority of law and medical students as well as graduate students in the humanities, social sciences, and biological sciences. And the University of Michigan, where I teach, two-thirds of the assistant professors hired are women (and they get tenure at the same rate as men).

Do these statistics prove discrimination against men? They do not. And I can assure you that bugged conversations—at least at my school—would not support the discrimination idea either. On the contrary, we are so frequently confronted with the prospect of admitting huge majorities of women into our graduate program that we contemplate relaxing admission standards for men, though we’ve never carried it out in a conscious way, of that I’m sure.

The statistics on postgraduate education have not stopped some people from claiming there is still discrimination against women in the physical sciences. One book I read recently claimed that women were “locked out” of physics. In the absence of evidence other than the purely statistical kind, there can be no justification for that assertion.

Richard Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015, p. 188

Daniel Nettle

One of the key goals of feminism has been equity. That is, a man or a woman with the same set of aptitudes and motivations should have an equal chance of succeeding. We can endorse this without reservation. However, this does not mean that men and women on average actually have the same motivations, so we should not necessarily expect equal sex representation across all sectors of society. A second goal of feminism has been to celebrate and validate women’s values, which are often different from those of men. It is surely more important to value the pro-social orientation many women […] possess, than it is to lament that they are not more like men.

Daniel Nettle, Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are, Oxford, 2007, pp. 181-182

Juan José Sebreli

Reivindicar la diferencia como una exclusividad es caer en una forma de sexismo al revés, del mismo modo que el indigenismo o la negritud constituyen un racismo al revés, lo único que deben reclamar las minorías oprimidas es la igualdad total con las mayorías. La homosexualidad no es una esencia que define a algunos individuos; es, como la heterosexualidad, una cualidad entre otras, o como dice Gore Vidal, no es un sustantivo sino un adjetivo. No puede hablarse por tanto de una comunidad gay. El folclore, los hábitos específicos, no son más que el producto de la marginación y el encierro en el guetto, y desaparecerán en la medida en que desaparezca toda discriminación.

La represión de la homosexualidad tiene al fin la misma raíz en el dogma religioso y en las normas del poder autoritario y totalitario que condenan toda relación sexual que tenga por fin la búsqueda del placer y no la procreación, y que igualmente rechazaban hasta ayer el divorcio y hoy el aborto, el control de la natalidad, la relación extramatrimonial, el onanismo, las variantes del goce erótico no genital, la sexualidad femenina clitoriana, y aun la soltería que es discriminada salarialmente. El derecho al placer es una reivindicación que no sólo atañe a los homosexuales sino también a las mujeres, y que aún no ha sido conquistada en vastas regiones del mundo, como el continente africano. El homosexual no debe, por lo tanto, ser respetado como el Otro, la “otredad” como pretende el relativismo cultural de las teorías posmodernas, sino como el igual; no como representante de una especie, como un “tipo” aparte, sino como un individuo. El problema deja el ámbito ontológico en que lo quieren situar los foucaultianos, los posestructuralistas, los posmodernos para bajar al plano más prosaico de la juricidad; se trata de una reivindicación esencial entre las libertades individuales, la de ser dueño del propio cuerpo, y el derecho a la privacidad, a la intimidad, un punto aún no cumplido de los derechos humanos.

Juan José Sebreli, ‘Historia secreta de los homosexuales en Buenos Aires’, in Escritos sobre escritos, ciudades bajo ciudades (Buenos Aires, 1997), pp. 363-364

Keith Stanovich

[D]eification of intelligence can have a truly perverse moral consequence that we often fail to recognize—the denigration of those low in mental abilities measured in intelligence tests. Such denigration goes back to the very beginnings of psychometrics as an enterprise. Sir Francis Galton would hardly concede that those low in IQ could feel pain: The discriminative facility of idiots is curiously low; they hardly distinguish between heat and cold, and their sense of pain is so obtuse that some of the more idiotic seem hardly to know what it is. In their dull lives, such pain as can be excited in them may literally be accepted with a welcome surprise.
Milder and subtler version so f this denigration continue down to the modern day. In 2004 author Michael D’Antonio published a book titled The State Boys Rebellion about the ill treatment of boys in the Walter E. Fernald School for the Feebleminded and how a group of boys residing at the school rebelled against this treatment. Disturbingly, however, reviews of the book tended to focus on the stories of those boys who later were found to have normal IQs. The The York Times Book Review (June 27, 2004) titled its review “A Ledger of Broken Arms: Misdiagnosis and Abuse at a School for the ‘Feebleminded’ in the 1950s.” We might ask what in the world does “misdiagnosis” have to do with the issue of highlighting the ill treatment in these institutions? The implication here is that somehow it was less tragic for those “properly diagnosed”—whatever that may mean in this context. Shades of Galton, and of the dark side of the deification of intelligence, are revealed in the reactions to this book.

Keith Stanovich, What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought, New Haven, 2009, p. 53