2017 Politics open thread, August 6-12

Has anything caught your interest this week?

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147 thoughts on “2017 Politics open thread, August 6-12

  1. WCE, I noticed Iowa’s high ranking in median SAT score, apparently without a correspondingly high ranking in median ACT score, which is not a surprise based on our past discussions.

    In fact, there is quite a mismatch in the SAT and ACT score listings. There are no states in the top rankings for both, and no states in the bottom for both.

    I can guess why HI is on the bottom for ACT, but not SAT. The low ACT scores are mainly because the DOE requires all public school juniors to take the ACT, while the public school SAT takers are primarily students planning on attending colleges that require the SAT (local CC does not require SAT). The top privates emphasize the SAT over the ACT, which probably contributes to both a low ACT median and an SAT median above the bottom ranks.

  2. WCE,

    It’s surprising that MA is so far ahead of even #2 NJ. MA 78.16 NJ at #2 with 66.92. LA is last at 27,.42. A least MS isn’t in its usual position of dead last.

  3. I just glanced at the first chart and can’t believe we ranked that high. I must revise my opinion that we are a state of slackers.

  4. “At least MS isn’t in its usual position of dead last.”

    No, in fact Mississippi is ahead of Washington, DC. So it’s obviously not about $$ spent per student.

    On the other hand, Maine is 30th in terms of household income (31st if you count DC) and manages a respectable 10th, barely behind Connecticut, and well ahead of #1 wealthiest state, Maryland.

  5. It all comes down to the proportion of the states’ residents that have a generally dysfunctional culture.

    This particular data is four years old, but Louisiana (dead last) and Virginia (#6) are both spending nearly the exact same amount of money per student, which happens to be the national average.

    Page 8:

    https://www2.census.gov/govs/school/13f33pub.pdf

    DC is spending the highest in the nation, with horrible results.

  6. I just skimmed the page, but they lost me with the chart at the bottom that plotted spending vs quality. Calling states that are high in spending and high in quality, along with those low in spending and low in quality “mixed” makes no sense. They are going out of their way to make the point that there isn’t a correlation between spending and quality, when the plot already shows that pretty clearly.

  7. By “lost me”, not that I don’t understand it, I mean it undermines their credibility.

  8. DD – I think it’s an interesting way to look at it. Green suggests that they’re getting a particularly good deal for their money. Red means they’re spending a disproportionately high amount given the results. And gray is in the middle.

  9. It all comes down to the proportion of the states’ residents that have a generally dysfunctional culture.

    Then doesn’t that undermine your point about spending? One would assume it costs more to educate kids in DC vs Bethesda, right?

  10. Aren’t standardized test scores highly correlated with income? Not sure that this chart is saying anything new.

    In other developments, I’ve stopped watching John Oliver. Too triggered by Trump news. I’ve also stopped listening to NPR news, and now listen to podcasts (often of NPR shows) in the car.

  11. Anecdotally, from what I hear, students who would have dropped out BITD are somehow making it to the end of high school.
    They are taking online classes or somehow limping to the finish. No taking of the SAT or ACT since they know they are not going on to college.

  12. Red means they’re spending a disproportionately high amount given the results.

    How do the adjust for the demographics and SES of the students? I assume you’d agree that if 80% of incoming Bethesda kindergarteners can read and 20% of D.C. kids can read the fact that 90% of incoming Bethesda 1st graders can read vs 40% of D.C. First graders doesn’t indicate the D.C. Schools are doing poorly.

  13. Houston, standardized test scores are correlated with income. The open question for the last few decades is to what extent income causes higher standardized test scores (so test scores/education can be improved with more resources) or whether they are correlated because both standardized test scores and income correlate with parental IQ, to what extent that correlation can be adjusted, i.e. the malleability of IQ in terms of nature vs. nurture, and whether “IQ” (or any other statistical artifact that shows the same correlation) has real-life importance.

    My own opinion is that people lacking sufficient foresight of their own disproportionately benefit from socially enforced cultural norms that finishing high school, avoiding multipartner fertility, avoiding drug use** and avoiding excessive alcohol use are keys to life success.

    **If you go to BYU and violate the coffee/tea ban, I think you’ll still turn out OK.

  14. DD – I think it’s an interesting way to look at it. Green suggests that they’re getting a particularly good deal for their money. Red means they’re spending a disproportionately high amount given the results. And gray is in the middle.

    But it’s not “mixed.” Calling it mixed implies that there is a difference or no relationship, but those are the states that are correlated. The other two groups are the ones that are “mixed” because the spending and results aren’t correlated.

  15. MA is so far ahead because, of course, Massachusetts is not really a part of the USA and our population, while technically composed of US citizens and permanent residents, is not representative of real America. Reasons are always found to say that the studies that show a benefit in living here have no application outside the borders of the Commonwealth. We are treated as some sort of transplanted European outlier in education, health care, personal outcomes, and no reasonable person with choices would even want to live in such an inhospitable expensive place.

  16. Meme – When I was applying for jobs, I interviewed with several Boston firms. Despite being born in Mass. (we moved when I was 2) and going to law school there, the local firms each asked why I wanted to live and work in Boston and where not convinced I really wanted to live there. Only 1 firm gave me an offer. NYC – the question doesn’t even come up. OF COURSE, you’d want to live here.

  17. Meme,

    I think that sort of ties into what WCE said the other day about hunting, fishing and fixing a lawnmower. In 1975 a Crafstman 21″ push mower was $139(inflation adjusted $659) today a 21″ is $143. The return on those sorts of non-academic skills has declined precipitously and some parts of America are resentful that global forces are rending their skills and values obsolete.

  18. Kerri – same! Although I had gone to law school in NYC (another strike against), but I think that after my first summer working here the Boston firms were more likely to ‘believe’ me that I wanted to come back.

  19. I think Boston firms to some extent thought their most ambitious people were going to leave and go to the Evil Empire.

  20. In looking at legal jobs in Boston for DH a lot of them require already being a member of the Mass. bar. I just don’t see this requirement in other states. And you can’t just waive into the Mass. bar, you need two recommendations, etc. It seems like there is a lot more hoop jumping than “you’ve practiced for 5 years so you’re in” that you see in other states.

  21. As a non-lawyer, I don’t understand why each state has its own bar exam. It seems anti-competitive to me.

  22. As a non-lawyer, I don’t understand why each state has its own bar exam. It seems anti-competitive to me.

    Most professional licensing is at the state level. It’s the same for nursing and advanced practice nursing. And the requirements and scope of practice rules are different in each state.

  23. “And the requirements and scope of practice rules are different in each state.”

    But why? Don’t nurses do generally the same jobs, regardless of the state? This has always seemed odd to me, because it is an issue for my lawyer friends when they think about moving.

  24. I think states should do what Cal does and require everyone, even those who have practiced forever, to take an exam to practice. State law varies so much. The MBE tests general principles of contract, con law, etc that are applicable across the board, but states should have a vested interest in their lawyers actually understanding that particular state law. I waived in to DC and couldn’t tell you the first thing about DC laws.

  25. Birdie – Don’t most states require an exam? NY and Cal. definitely do. I didn’t think most states had reciprocity.

  26. But why? Don’t nurses do generally the same jobs, regardless of the state? This has always seemed odd to me, because it is an issue for my lawyer friends when they think about moving.

    Some states require nurses to have background checks, some don’t, some require continuing education to renew the license and some don’t, etc. There are about 20 or so states that have an agreement to honor each other’s licenses, but if you move to a non-compact state, you have to apply from scratch.

    The scope of practice rules are more an issue with advanced practice nursing (NPs and such). Some states allow full prescribing, some don’t, and the ones that do have very different requirements on obtaining it. Colorado recently changed the law so it’s a bit easier to get full prescriptive authority, but it’s still harder than a lot of other states. And NPs who have it in other states don’t automatically get it here. Some states require NPs to be under the supervision of a physician but others don’t. Licenses don’t always transfer easily.

  27. Most powers were reserved to the states by the constitution. Professional licensing, health rules, insurance, blue laws, education standards, mimimum wage/labor laws, marriage qualifications, etc. are set at state level, or in some cases as local level, although the state constitution or legislation can designate what powers exist at a local or county level. For lawyers, it makes sense that state laws and courts require a local license. For medical practitioners and beauticians, less sense. The entire buy insurance across state lines argument rests on the idea that the purchase of insurance is a commercial activity protected at a federal level under interstate commerce, not a state regulated activity. That would be a Uuuge camel’s nose under the tent flap of powers reserved to the states, which is why I think it would not survive a strict constructionist analysis at the highest court levels.

  28. Kerri – I tried to include a link, but my response isn’t showing up. Lots of states allow for reciprocity. I think Cal and NY are somewhat unusual.

  29. Well, NY and Cal. do have the toughest exams, and are protective of their markets, so that makes sense. (She says a bit snootily.)

  30. I cannot speak to NY, but I took (and passed!) the California and Virginia exams. For me, Va was harder other than the fact that Cal was 3 days. But Cal’s exam was really surface level. Virginia tests on so many topics! And really specific things. So I had to learn a bunch of weird stuff very deeply. I think Cal’s rep for being so hard is because of how many law schools it has (and some unaccredited!).

    I bet Louisiana would be hard for me.

  31. I only took MA – plenty stressful enough! Hard to figure out how much to study for a pass-fail test (I undoubtedly studied too much).

  32. L – I was supposed to take MA, but was too sick to travel. I remember being freaked out because MA was supposedly going to test chattel paper and I had no idea what that was and was going to have to cram on the flight.

  33. Dh thought about taking the Mass bar the year after law school when he clerked up there, but I think was lazy and didn’t feel like taking another bar exam (since he knew he was headed down here).

  34. “Most professional licensing is at the state level.”

    As is driver licensing.

    “It’s the same for nursing and advanced practice nursing. And the requirements and scope of practice rules are different in each state.”

    Last I heard from a friend from college who became a nurse, she was traveling around the country as a travel nurse. Would she have needed to get licensed for each state in which she worked?

  35. Last I heard from a friend from college who became a nurse, she was traveling around the country as a travel nurse. Would she have needed to get licensed for each state in which she worked?

    As I said, for RN licensing, there are 20 or so states that have an agreement so as long as she is licensed in one of those, she can work in any of the others. She needs to be licensed separately in every other state she works in.

    I have an NP friend who is doing some travel work and she has to get licensed in each state she works in.

  36. With regard to auditions, I’ve read that coughing or throat clearing can reveal gender, and so applicants try not to make any incidental noises.

    It’s not clear how other professions, or college admissions, can replicate this sort of approach. And even with musicians, smaller ensembles such as string quartets or jazz groups can’t really use the screen approach if they want to evaluate how well a musician fits within an existing ensemble.

  37. For college admissions, have the name, address, and other demographic info removed from the applications before they are given to the admissions committee for review.

  38. It’s not clear how other professions, or college admissions, can replicate this sort of approach.

    For Google it would be fairly easy to use a high end voice changer for phone interviews and/or behind a screen in-person interviews with the gender known to HR but not the team/hiring manager.

  39. RMS – thanks for posting that response to the Google memo – it’s really good.

  40. DD, it is often possible to identify gender based on other info in the college applicant’s file. Sports team and other xc activities for example (football vs softball, soprano section leader, Eagle Scout).

  41. I read through the reply and this statement stood out to me. Some of our most unpleasant discussions on this and the regular thread have foundered this essential issue.

    One very important true statement which this manifesto makes is that male gender roles remain highly inflexible, and that this is a bug, not a feature. In fact, I suspect that this is the core bug which prompted everything else within this manifesto to be written. *But the rest of the manifesto is basically about optimizing around the existence of this bug*!

    This is the same attitude that says that men are what they are, and that if women want to change the terms of social and workplace engagement for themselves, they do so at their own peril because most men can’t deal with it, and somehow it is not reasonable to expect them to change except in superficial ways.

  42. How does everyone feel about this?

    Trump: If NKorea escalates nuclear threat, ‘they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.’

  43. ” they do so at their own peril because most men can’t deal with it, and somehow it is not reasonable to expect them to change except in superficial ways.”

    It is perfectly reasonable to expect them to change- HRC has been extraordinarily reasonable in her expectations about her husband for decades. I think the question is whether her expectation is realistic.

  44. WCE, do you know if Nebraska is like Iowa in the ACT being the dominant college admissions test?

    http://www.omaha.com/news/education/students-honored-for-perfect-act-sat-test-scores-including-teen/article_55b94d8c-3efe-11e7-ad62-b351f7099197.html

    From the state’s class of 2017, 16 kids with the highest possible ACT scores, 1 kid with the highest possible SAT score.

    I’m guessing it’s a combination of the ACT being easier, and more kids taking the ACT.

  45. Finn, it appears that Nebraska had ~18,000 seniors take the test and the ACT is dominant there.

    This article refers to a composite 36 as a perfect ACT score. I consider a composite 36 with all four subtests also 36 to be a perfect ACT score. In the early 90’s, my definition of perfect was much rarer than a composite of 36, for which one can have a couple subtest scores of 35.
    https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/Natl-Scores-2014-Nebraska.pdf

    The SAT has changed a lot since I took it too- pretty much anything in the 700’s verbal is now considered to be an 800 verbal. I knew no one with an 800 verbal score in high school.

  46. Finn, note male and female numbers for perfect scores as well as the dearth of parents presumably in the bottom income quintile. Coming from a statistically median income household, my peers pretty much all had higher HHI than I did.

  47. “Trump: If NKorea escalates nuclear threat, ‘they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.’”

    Classic cold war deterrence, with two crazy people at the wheel.

  48. Things have actually been pretty calm with the new CoS. I think John Kelly runs a tight ship. That’s just a little bit of Trump’s famous blunt language coming through. And he’s not wrong.

  49. “Classic cold war deterrence, with two crazy people at the wheel.”

    Agreed. And it’s concerning precisely because of the crazy leaders.

    “:It is perfectly reasonable to expect them to change- HRC has been extraordinarily reasonable in her expectations about her husband for decades. I think the question is whether her expectation is realistic.”

    What in the heck do Bill Clinton’s affairs have to do with women in tech and discrimination?

    Organizations can and will change because it makes financial sense to take advantage of the full range of potential in the population rather than just 50%, because their customers are not all men & the insights that other voices provide are profitable, and because it is 2017. People who cannot adapt within modern corporations will make it to the middle and the top less and less over time – it’s already happening.

  50. “What in the heck do Bill Clinton’s affairs have to do with women in tech and discrimination?

    Organizations can and will change because it makes financial sense to take advantage of the full range of potential in the population rather than just 50%, because their customers are not all men & the insights that other voices provide are profitable, and because it is 2017. ”

    The husband in a couple I know (physician/engineer) declined a job with Google because of the time/schedule demands. I am not convinced that the lack of women in tech is because of discrimination against women; I think tech discriminates against anyone who prioritizes caregiving obligations, as this husband does. At a recent employee event, Mr WCE and I sat behind a senior manager whose SAH wife supported his rise by taking care of his family during his long hours, extensive travel, etc. and recently he left his wife for a much younger woman. This situation is sufficiently common that my now-retired patent attorney friend brought up the “half your age plus seven” rule about the senior attorneys at her husband’s firm.

    Unfortunately, men abandon their caregiving obligations at higher rates than women and the men who rise in tech are disproportionately those who don’t prioritize caregiving.

  51. Did anyone read Friedman today? I agree with him – and I agree that the bullet points he makes in the middle of the article are absolutely true. Those highlight the problems that I have with the far left, even though I am more liberal than conservative.

    I would add – abortion is not the be-all and end-all issue to die on a hill for. I would like it to be safe, legal, rare, and between a woman, the father & her medical provider. But rare is not less important than the other issues.

  52. DH has worked at Google, in a mid-career position. He arrived at work around 8 most days, before much of his team. He almost always left before 5. He had one business trip over the course of 12 months. It has average demands on engineers’ time compared with other tech companies. If someone is turning down Google due to time/schedule demands, s/he would best go to academia or government – I don’t know lighter private sector companies.

  53. @Anon for this – Google’s new office here seems to be supporting quite a large lunch and happy hour crowd near me as well…

  54. Good to know about Anon’s Google experience- I think it varies by group and the group my pediatrician acquaintance’s husband interviewed with was way more intense in terms of time expectations/travel and he was just looking to switch jobs if the fit was better so he didn’t need to put up with that.

  55. I haven’t followed the Google story that closely, but as a woman who has worked in an extremely male-dominated field and had my career damaged by sexism, I didn’t find it that bad. I’ve had much worse said right to my face. The portion I read of his writing was definitely politically incorrect and debatable, but I find it disconcerting for big corporations to be firing people for unpopular speech. They have that right, absolutely, but I don’t like the way this could go.

    I don’t know if it’s the case for this guy, but it ‘s possible to both treat women in the workplace fairly, and believe that women are less likely to be interested in and gifted at certain fields like programming. Note that I’m speaking about averages, not individuals. If he’s assuming that all women are incompetent rather than looking at their individual merits, and treating them accordingly, that’s of course hugely problematic and deserves to get him fired. But I think there’s a distinction there that should be discussed more.

  56. People have been rightfully fired for much less. Of course, this is California, one of the most employee-friendly states in the country. But I can’t imagine Google didn’t discuss this with their employment lawyers and feel that they had justification that will hold up in court. My guess is that this guy is making a lot of steam now, but he doesn’t really have a case.

  57. I really encourage you to read that essay by Yonatan Zunger if you haven’t. I linked to it above. It’s an excellent response and shows exactly why Google had every reason to frog-march the guy to the door and tell him that his personal effects will be mailed to him.

  58. The whole diversity thing is based on the premise that women, or racial minorities, or people from various religious/ethnic backgrounds bring something different to the table. But then we are also supposed to pretend that these differences are only superficial — and that therefore if there aren’t “enough” of a category in any particular firm or industry, it’s because of some level of discrimination. It makes no sense.
    Of course Google has the right to fire the guy, but that approach will only serve to drive underground his fellow employees who agree with him. I’m not sure it helps Google achieve the diverse environment it claims to seek. But perhaps time will tell.

  59. I agree that Google’s response is within its rights and is the right decision for the type of corporation it wants to be.

  60. From the Zunger essay:

    Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers. If someone told you that engineering was a field where you could get away with not dealing with people or feelings, then I’m very sorry to tell you that you have been lied to. Solitary work is something that only happens at the most junior levels, and even then it’s only possible because someone senior to you — most likely your manager — has been putting in long hours to build up the social structures in your group that let you focus on code.

    All of these traits which the manifesto described as “female” are the core traits which make someone successful at engineering. Anyone can learn how to write code; hell, by the time someone reaches L7 or so, it’s expected that they have an essentially complete mastery of technique. The truly hard parts about this job are knowing which code to write, building the clear plan of what has to be done in order to achieve which goal, and building the consensus required to make that happen.

    What you just did was incredibly stupid and harmful. You just put out a manifesto inside the company arguing that some large fraction of your colleagues are at root not good enough to do their jobs, and that they’re only being kept in their jobs because of some political ideas. And worse than simply thinking these things or saying them in private, you’ve said them in a way that’s tried to legitimize this kind of thing across the company, causing other people to get up and say “wait, is that right?”
    I need to be very clear here: not only was nearly everything you said in that document wrong, the fact that you did that has caused significant harm to people across this company, and to the company’s entire ability to function. And being aware of that kind of consequence is also part of your job, as in fact it would be at pretty much any other job. I am no longer even at the company and I’ve had to spend half of the past day talking to people and cleaning up the mess you’ve made. I can’t even imagine how much time and emotional energy has been sunk into this, not to mention reputational harm more broadly.

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

  61. Exactly, Scarlett. As I said, they certainly have the right to fire him. But I will be interested to see how far the trend goes to root out all those with unorthodox viewpoints. Will sympathizing in any way with the fired employee get you fired? What about sympathizing with fired sympathizers? This sort of thing can easily and somewhat ironically become like a fundamentalist religion set to shut down all the heretics.

  62. Dude’s a moron if he thought he should be opining on this topic. They needed to fire him for being an idiot.

  63. “The whole diversity thing is based on the premise that women, or racial minorities, or people from various religious/ethnic backgrounds bring something different to the table. But then we are also supposed to pretend that these differences are only superficial — and that therefore if there aren’t “enough” of a category in any particular firm or industry, it’s because of some level of discrimination. It makes no sense.”

    You are mixing apples and oranges here. The “whole diversity thing” is based on the premise that people with different backgrounds can offer different viewpoints as a result of their different experiences, NOT because of their different biology. E.g., if you are making a product designed to help parents of small children, you may want some moms on your team — not because the presence of a uterus gives them an inherently better intuitive understanding of all things parenting, but because the data suggest that more moms take on the primary parenting role, and so they might actually have some direct, useful experience.

    Differences in employment rates can result from a variety of things — including, among other things, discrimination BECAUSE of biological differences. Of course, the $64M question is how much of the gap is due to discrimination and how much to any of many other contributing factors. However, given the extremely well-documented and longstanding history of discrimination against women and minorities in this country, it is reasonable to assume that SOME part of the difference you see today is due to discrimination, unfavorable work environments, etc. (I was going to point to the long history of legalized discrimination, but we have had plenty of anecdata lately demonstrating that this is not just a quaint historical artifact). So a smart company — one that wants to hire/retain the best people and create those diverse groups — should damn well take a hard look at whether its own actions and behavior are part of the problem or part of the solution, and figure out how to move from the former to the latter.

  64. Also from Zunger:

    You talked about a need for discussion about ideas; you need to learn the difference between “I think we should adopt Go as our primary language” and “I think one-third of my colleagues are either biologically unsuited to do their jobs, or if not are exceptions and should be suspected of such until they can prove otherwise to each and every person’s satisfaction.” Not all ideas are the same, and not all conversations about ideas even have basic legitimacy.

  65. No, it actually *is* all about biology, at least with respect to women. Firms aren’t looking for moms, they are looking for people with two X chromosomes. After all, they aren’t allowed to ask about marital or parental status. Colleges are the same. They recruit black and Hispanic kids, and Obama’s daughter counts just as much as a cleaning lady’s son.

  66. And what to do about the inconvenient fact that there are too many Asians at Google and other tech firms? Too many Jews in certain law firms and the entertainment and finance industries? Too many women and gay men in the fashion industry? If we want truly diverse and balanced workplaces ( and college campuses), lots of these folks will have to take one for the team and find another field or university.

    Though I comoletely agree that the Google guy deserved to be fired for his poor judgment in using a manifesto to air his views.

  67. Good comments on the NY Times summary of the controversy. I especially liked Barkley

  68. My point from the other day is that I am going to go to my grave protesting the idea that biology is destiny – not in the sense that women are constitutionally unable to measure up in the male sphere – but in the sense that men are hardwired to unequal expectations in their attitudes and work styles and professional comfort level with women.

  69. I think most men are professionally comfortable with women and my experiences in the corporate world have been 50x more pleasant than my experiences getting through high school. I think sexual harassment in middle/high school deserves more consequences.

    Mémé, when you say you object to the idea that biology is destiny, do you mean that on an individual basis or on a statistical one? I agree on an individual basis, but I doubt that half of software engineers will ever be women just as I doubt that half of daycare providers will ever be men, which is what I mean by “statistical basis”.

  70. I object to the assumption that men are prisoners of their own biological imperatives and socialization, and therefore they cannot be held fully responsible for the way their attitudes about women shape the workplace. This is from both sides of the spectrum. Some left wing women and a few men think that straight men are essentially monsters no matter what the culture. Many social conservatives think that men, unless redeemed by grace or restrained by custom, are so instinctual or weak that they are unable to deal with women without being distracted or falling into temptation (I never eat alone with a woman other than my wife. Female-centric dress codes. All the unwritten rules about women “asking for it.”) Many middle of the road people think that men who choose female dominated professions have an agenda or that those who work with children are broken and dangerous.

    You and others are arguing that the Google engineer is right. Women as a class are not as good at the job or at least as committed to it and individual women are being foisted on the hard working creative and collaborative men who can’t integrate them into their bro culture workgroups or figure out how to work with them. All women are assumed to be less than qualified/committed until proven otherwise, and they are by definition not bros, so a bad cultural fit. Why don’t they stick them in HR or Finance? If the man had written a manifesto saying that non Asian origin male engineers were being foisted on the hardworking Asians and they are assumed to be pretty boys who should really be sales douches, they would fire him immediately. If a white or East Asian-origin fellow published a manifesto saying that the Indian programmers all belonged below level xyz because they were automatons and afraid to challenge authority, he would be fired as well. Even if people thought there was a grain of truth in either statement. What makes it even marginally okay for a man to say that about women? Just the special rules that say men are just men and you can’t change them. Biology reinforced by custom. And if women don’t want to venture where they are not appreciated/wanted they just have to figure out how to work around the “bug” in the culture.

  71. The question of whether women are as committed to engineering as men can be answered with data. Far more women switch to another field compared to men during the careers. Far more women than men choose to work part-time.

    I wasn’t sure if you were arguing that women behave as they do for cultural rather than biological reasons, which is an argument that I at least partly agree with. I’m a little disappointed right now because of a couple “half your age plus 7” situations. Those situations are real and statistically gendered. They cannot be perfectly classified as either biological or cultural.

    And Mr WCE should realize, without asking, that if he can’t tell the wife from the daughter from the DIL, the one with the dyed blond hair is the wife.

  72. Far more women switch to another field compared to men during the careers.

    Of course that could be that they find a lot of the workplaces to be male-dominated and sexist. Just saying that it’s much more likely that it’s the environment/people that drives them away and not the work.

  73. And I’d bet more women choose to work part-time in most fields, not just engineering.

  74. “And I’d bet more women choose to work part-time in most fields, not just engineering.”

    I was just discussing this with a friend yesterday WRT MDs. We were commenting on how it was good to see so many top students planning to go into medicine, given our MD shortage here, but also discussing how it looked like more females than males were following that path, which may not be optimal given that most male MDs we know work full time as MDs, while many female MDs choose to work PT or not practice, and there seems to be a shortage of residency slots relative to the need for practicing MDs.

  75. Finn, I was surprised that quite a few women in my NP program (there were only three men out of a class of 14) were planning to work part-time. I couldn’t figure out how they could justify the expense of the program if they were only going to work PT.

  76. The question of whether women are as committed to engineering as men can be answered with data. Far more women switch to another field compared to men during the careers. Far more women than men choose to work part-time.

    You have no evidence to show whether that is a function of biology or of the culture of the Silicon Valley workplaces. You don’t have to be a dismissive, dick-swinging sexist pig to be an engineer. It just works out that way because it’s permitted.

    As to your other paragraphs, I think you’re having a bad day.

  77. Thanks, RMS. It’s definitely a “Who would want to be the person who succeeds in the tech hierarchy?” sort of day.

  78. I like how RMS just cut and paste the article she wanted us to read because, really, who has time for links? (Really. I wouldn’t have clicked through – and the rebuttal had a lot of good points.)

    Anyway, Larry Summers had a similar argument, but with far less reference to “culturally universal” ideas and sweeping generalizations. Less random injection of a few unsupported points about how castrated men are still very much men. And it still landed him in hot water. Ima gonna guess the random Googler has never heard of Larry Summers and thinks he strung together his brilliant argument all on his own.

    I particularly enjoyed this part:

    Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths. about how men only care about status. Except how they also have to take all the really low status jobs like garbage man and fire fighter.

    Ummm… I imagine this guy has never met a coal miner, a fire fighter or a garbage man. I also imagine he doesn’t realize that firefighting is a highly desirable job and has quite a bit of status.

  79. But he is correct to observe that men are far more likely to choose high-risk occupations. Whether they do so because they are chasing status, or because men *as a group* are more risk-tolerant than women *as a group*, or because many physically dangerous jobs require more physical strength, is an open question.

  80. It is still blowing my mind this guy thought it wise to pull a Jerry Maguire and publish this. I know SV is ground zero for entitled men doing gross things, but man, know your place! He is like employee 8 billion and one at Google. Not really the kind of guy who gets to create this much havoc and get away with it.

  81. Why is this national news? If some random guy at P&G or Eaton or CSX mouths off and posts some offensive rant, and gets fired for it, I don’t imagine that every feminist from Slate and NYT and Vox is going to feel compelled to cover it (nor will the Federalist and National Review publish counterpoint pieces).

    Why is the press so obsessed with Silicon Valley?

  82. Why is the press so obsessed with Silicon Valley?

    Because it is the place where nerds finally get their due and strike it rich. But then act just like the jocks they always hated.

  83. “I doubt that half of software engineers will ever be women”

    And yet, back when “computer programming” was deemed to be a low-status job unworthy of big male brains, the field was very highly female-oriented.

    It seems to me that the fundamental disconnect is what your default assumption is. We can all look at the same data and posit a variety of causes — is it biological? Is it cultural? Somewhere between the two?

    The engineer started from the assumption that it was predominantly biological. That assumption, by definition, makes “successful female engineers” the exception, not the rule, which puts an additional burden on them, every day, to prove their worth — to show everyone that they are the exception and not the rule. This is an excellent example of implicit bias, and it leads to a working environment that is difficult in a million subtle ways. It’s the same as saying you are looking to hire “qualified” minorities — you wouldn’t even think to say that about a white guy, because they are presumed to be qualified.

    My assumption, OTOH, is that it is largely cultural. Not because I know that for sure. But because my starting assumption is that humans are philosophically equal, and that each individual person should be entitled to an assumption of competence and equality until proven otherwise. I am also highly aware of longstanding discrimination and different cultural norms that for centuries have treated men and women differently and therefore shaped people’s expectations of what they “should” be. And I am highly suspect of “science” that purports to prove preconceived stereotypes; there is, again, a long history of people using “modern science” to prove that African Americans are inferior (remember phrenology?), or that women are “hysterical” because of that damn uterus, or neurotic, or frigid, or whatever — each of which, over time, has been proven to be stupid. Remember, women were supposed to not be able to be doctors because they were too frail to handle all that blood, or lawyers because they were too emotional and not able to be rational. How’d that work? Think that’s gone away? Look at the articles we discussed a year or so ago about what happens to women who dare to be visible on Minecraft and other gamer sites — there is an active culture of computer boys out there who doesn’t want girls in their clubhouse. On the flip side, we do have some data suggesting that, when given the “right” set of circumstances, women as a whole can be just as successful at “computer-ey” stuff as men — the historical predominance of women as programmers, for ex., and IIRC, for a period of time much more recently, women predominated in software engineering in Australia.

    So I look at that history, and I ask myself, well, if everyone in fact started out with equal intellectual capability, and then grew up in a society that told them that boys need to be strong and macho and girls are bad at math and need to plan to be the primary caregiver, and where the girls who were interested in gaming and computers were targeted and shut out by the boys, what would that look like 30 years later when those people are in the workforce? And IMO it would look pretty much like what we have now. In other words, we already have a thumb on the scale that is going to push the results in the direction of “more men go into software engineering.”

    Now, does it account for the whole difference? Beats me. But when you *know* your data set is biased, the first thing you do is try to remove the bias — you don’t just assume that, well, the bias accounts for maybe X% of the difference, and so the rest *must* be biological. No, you get your damn thumb off the scale first and then see if it zeroes out, or if it still leans to the one side.

    Of course, we can’t do that, because you can’t raise people in a culture-free bubble. So the question is what do you infer from incomplete data? Well, you know the data you have is biased, and that that bias would push the results in the direction you are seeing — so why would you *not* assume that the bias is *responsible* for those results? What is the basis for assuming that you can “know” that “nuture” (the part that we can see) is, say, only 10% of the problem, and “nature” (the part that we cannot yet measure) contributes the other 90%?

    And I think that’s where Google is as well: their operating assumption, their corporate ethos, is that women are just as capable as men of doing the jobs they are hired for, and so if their numbers are disproportionately male, they need to examine what they may be doing wrong to contribute to the problem. Now, are they doing that in the best possible way? I don’t know, because I don’t know their system; if they are imposing 50/50 quotas, as this guy suggests, when their pipeline of available candidates is more predominately men, then that is likely not a reasonable target. But their theory is dead bang on IMO.

    Honestly, I would have had no problem with this guy if he had focused on the manner in which Google was trying to fix the problem. But he was arguing that biology is the underlying cause (although not the only one, he did fairly admit other factors). Substitute “African Americans” for “women” in his dissertation and see how it reads then. Does anyone think he wouldn’t have been out on his ass even faster if he’d written that about African-Americans? Would that be overly “PC” and creating a culture that is unfriendly to different ideas? Why is it ok to assume that women are biologically stupider than the smartest men, when you’d be pilloried for suggesting that about African-Americans or some other minority?

  84. I certainly don’t think of firefighting as a low-status job. Wherever he got that idea, I don’t know, but it seems like a good indicator of how little credibility one should ascribe to any of his other theories. For men, particularly, firefighting carries a lot higher status than the many other jobs society is often encouraging men to consider in the new economy, such as health care aide or nursing assistant.

    At the same time, I don’t think of firefighting as particularly dangerous, at least not in absolute numbers, even if it is in a relative comparison.

    Commercial fishing is often trotted out as one of, if not the most dangerous job, but I don’t think it’s status that drives people to the job so much as the high pay relative to what else is available to men of similar skillsets. The same is true of coal mining. A Google engineer might not appreciate the distinction, but I would guess they’re earning $60k or $70k a year coal mining vs. … what? That salary is high school principal territory, at least in coal country. I have a cousin-in-law (a different one from my usual target) who is college-educated and holds what’s considered a decent full-time state job who is earning only $15 an hour. No wonder people want to dig coal.

  85. I went back and read the guy’s manifesto in total. He has a legitimate complaint about groupthink and enforced conformity. And it was still fine to share how he thought that Google’s diversity policies were counter productive to the company’s success and the overall work environment. (There are also well documented SV instances of people being shunned economically for espousing unpopular conservative political views.) These are important subjects for discussion.

    He started to get into trouble when made it clear he was talking about women. (There is also well documented “they are non qualified” pushback by the alpha groups in SV against efforts to increase the numbers of Hispanic or African American tech employees.) He looked at statistics about female success in senior technical roles in software engineering, and argued that it was not going to change as a result of these counterproductive efforts. (Possibly true) He decided to share his view that lifestyle factors were only a small part and could possibly be addressed by non senior part time work.

    So far he is on thin ice, but not broken through. But then he said that women are as a class unqualified by temperament. They are “prone to neuroticism”. They can’t handle stress. Success in the job requires constant competition – cooperation has only a limited role and women are wired to be cooperative, not competitive. They are not sturdy enough for the long hours, verbal abuse, risk taking and dog eat dog environment that he sees as integral to the job. AND it impinges on the ability of men like himself, the true producers, to do their job properly when diversity individuals are forced upon the group. As many commentators have stated, these last points are the firing offense.

    HOWEVER, Ross Douthat would not be writing a piece about the need for social readjustment and frank discussion to restore a portion of the lost traditional relationship between white and black/brown because our society has become fractured and unmoored. ONLY the differences between men and women are considered to be so vast that they cannot, and in many views, should not because of social disruption, be taken out of the equation in the workplace.

  86. It is interesting to me that those Facebook friends who think it is a travesty that Google Dude was fired fully support what is going on with Kaepernick, who is totally being frozen out for his political opinions.

  87. Birdie – As most of the TV commentators have noted, when Jay Cutler got the Miami job after “retiring” (Tannehill has a likely season ending knee injury), you could make a good argument because of his relationship with the coach that he was the best candidate. And he is certainly the same level as Kaepernick. But when the next guy goes down and they hire Kyle Orton, there is no more fig leaf about best qualified candidate. And as you said, most people are just fine with that. Speak your mind if you want, and take the consequences if you lose your job.

  88. Birdie, that’s because they disagree with Kaepernick. If Kaepernick was being frozen out because he expressed conservative viewpoints, those same people would think it was a travesty.

  89. DD – oh, I know. When I said “interesting” I really meant “so hypocritical that it is laughable and let’s all give Ray Rice and Michael Vick a big hug.”

  90. @Milo-

    It happens everywhere – either the other big companies have better PR people or people are just obsessed with Google and SV because of all the $$$. I don’t know. Also lots of young, small companies that don’t have mature legal & HR departments.

    Here’s two cases (arguably much worse) in my industry from just the past year. In one – the CEO was making rape jokes. I mean….
    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/aug/03/saatchi-saatchi-boss-kevin-roberts-resigns-amid-sexism-row
    http://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/01/12/jwt-and-gustavo-martinez-come-out-fighting-acrimonious-lawsuit

  91. “Because it is the place where nerds finally get their due and strike it rich. But then act just like the jocks they always hated.”

    So why is that? These aren’t the lacrosse bros at a hedge fund. This is an industry that tilts way left, filled with young guys who are products of our finest left-tilting universities. At least a third of them are minorities.

  92. Google is a unique company and they haven’t gone through the major bloodlettings that many other tech employers have. I think decisions associated with severance packages/layoffs have gender-specific effects. I’ve told my story many times, I’m thinking of another female acquaintance who was laid off because she missed 5 days of work in a year associated with her child’s chronic ear infections and her mother’s death. The “objective” criteria for layoff was basically, “Not coming to work regularly” so she was out.

    Things are better right now, but I expect similar layoff criteria in the next recession.

  93. “So why is that? These aren’t the lacrosse bros at a hedge fund. This is an industry that tilts way left, filled with young guys who are products of our finest left-tilting universities. At least a third of them are minorities.”

    Boy software engineers tend to skew way libertarian and love them some Ayn Rand. It is not surprising that they think they all have made it based mostly on their own merits. And of course they need to share these thoughts with everyone. It doesn’t seem like many have received appropriate conditioning of when to keep quiet.

  94. Denver – I took a Dale Carnegie based course at work recently. One of his tips is to “Smile!” The other woman in my group and I sorta groaned. None of the guys (40 ish plus, middle, upper management) understood why.

    I’m actually reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. I understand his advice and yet it also seems naive and a bit too simple.

  95. Boy software engineers tend to skew way libertarian and love them some Ayn Rand.

    This. Silicon Valley doesn’t tilt left at all. It’s libertarians all the way down.

  96. “Teddy is not a great person. Teddy is going to have to work hard to become a mediocre person”

    OK, not exactly on topic, but this may be my favorite Prudie line ever.

  97. Kerri I just got How to Win Friends out if the library since a few people on here said it was the most influential book they had read. I haven’t started it yet, but it’s on the list.

    And I totally agree with the point that no one would be able to work with this guy after his manifesto got all this publicity. He did this to himself.

  98. “Because it is the place where nerds finally get their due and strike it rich. But then act just like the jocks they always hated.”

    Really? That’s not what I experienced. The first part, yes, the second part, no.

  99. “This is an industry that tilts way left, filled with young guys who are products of our finest left-tilting universities. At least a third of them are minorities.”

    I’m skeptical of this. “Our finest left-tilting universities” as a group aren’t really strong on the techie side, and I don’t think their applicant pool skews techie either.

    The minorities part I can see. It’s a tech-based industry, so you’re going to have a lot of Asians. Caltech is over 40% Asian.

  100. Becky – It’s a quick read. I actually wish I had read it many years ago. Carnegie writes in an engaging manner, with short stories to illustrate his point. I’m taking it with a grain of salt though, like I said earlier, it comes across as a bit quaint and simplistic.

  101. “I’ve told my story many times, I’m thinking of another female acquaintance who was laid off because she missed 5 days of work in a year associated with her child’s chronic ear infections and her mother’s death. The “objective” criteria for layoff was basically, “Not coming to work regularly” so she was out.”

    That’s relevant if a male in a similar position with a similar attendance record was treated differently. In isolation, I’d attribute her treatment, at least in part, to decisions within her family that led to her missing work because of her child’s ear infection.

    I think I’ve taken more days off work due to our kids’ medical issues than DW.

  102. “One of his tips is to “Smile!””

    A while back, DW made this suggestion to me, and I’ve tried to implement it. IME, it does seem to work.

  103. Finn – If you’re being authentic, yes, smiling does make other people feel good and like you. If you’re being fake, don’t bother. I hate being told to smile. I will smile when I damn well feel like it and actually mean it. One of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received was when someone told me I come across as authentic. As a lawyer, I want my clients to trust me and my advice, and not feel like they are getting BS’ed.

  104. SV doesn’t lean left? How many SV types voted for HRC?
    And it would be interesting to see the top 10 universities feeding into tech. Most top universities are run by liberals

  105. “How many SV types voted for HRC?”

    In the most recent election, voting for HRC didn’t necessarily indicate a leftward lean. Many of those votes were likely more anti-Trump than pro-HRC.

  106. Yeah, they voted for HRC because they don’t like being dictated to about being Christian, or about their sex lives, or any of that jazz.

  107. This. Silicon Valley doesn’t tilt left at all. It’s libertarians all the way down.

    No, its liberals who want to tell everyone else who to live their lives. They dictate that we can’t use plastic bags, that electric rates aren’t high enough and all manner of nonsense.

  108. That article Birdie linked to is quite interesting, and largely correct, in my experience.

  109. “Google is itself a target of the self-appointed inquisition, endlessly criticized for having a work force that is disproportionately male and Asian or white. About 70 percent of Google’s staff, and about 80 percent of its technical employees, are male. There are many other characteristics they share as well: They disproportionately didn’t major in English or gender theory, and they disproportionately knocked the stuffing out of the math section of the SAT. The Justice Department naturally is suing Google for this. The reality is that the talents and drive needed to work at a firm such as Google are distributed in a way that is neither random or even nor organized with an eye toward pleasing the diversity police — and that reality must, as a political matter, be denied.”
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450296/st-teresa-benedicta-of-the-cross-legacy-hope

    Berkeley — where thugs rioted to silence conservative speakers — is the top feeder school for SV. (Stanford is second). These are bastions of liberal, inclusive tolerance. The Google guy seems to have had some valid points with regard to the culture, but how ironic that that the diversity police are eating their own young.

  110. Berkeley is a bastion of chaos. Those thugs weren’t students and there were only a dozen of them. Lots of Berkeley kids are conservative or apolitical.

  111. “Lots of Berkeley kids are conservative or apolitical.”

    IME, this definitely applies to the engineering majors. They tend to be too busy studying and trying to maintain their GPAs to have time for politics.

  112. Some said they had been mocked, spat on and punched.

    “Some” said that??? OMG!!!!

    Meanwhile, Asian Americans continue to make up the largest portion of California students admitted to UC Berkeley at 42.3 percent. White resident students, the second-largest group, make up 28.4 percent.

    As everyone has been bitching now for decades, Berkeley is attended by mostly Asian students, and Asian students are not typically all that politically leftist or active. Yes there are some exceptions.

    It’s not 1965 anymore, not even in Berkeley. Take your hatred and loathing for freedom and direct it at some other campus.

  113. WCE, the conclusion was spot on:
    “A party that believes more government will solve everything can’t really call itself populist in any modern sense of the word. It’s more just anti-business and anti-Trump. I’d be surprised if most Americans — or at least the ones you need to win back majorities — consider that much of a deal at all.”

    Maybe populist can’t work for the Democrats.

  114. Populism is not a precise term; however, it generally takes hold in democratic societies as a movement appealing to the “common man” against the elites. There are both left wing and right wing flavors of populism, with their own bogeymen as the elites. Left wing populism, which is uncommon in the US despite the Bernie Sanders phenomenon in the last election cycle, tends to be much less socialist than other left wing movements. Populism in the US has always had an anti-urban and nativist strain, so it is considered right wing populism. Both flavors tend to be anti intellectual, so the Dems in the US have no hope.

  115. The Dems have no hope as populists because they are running most of the “elite” segments of society. You can’t fight against The Man when you *are* The Man.

  116. “You can’t fight against The Man when you *are* The Man”

    Trump did! He (literally!) sat on a gold toilet while applying for more visas for foreign workers for his businesses and got a bunch of coal miners and steel workers to believe that he could solve their problems.

    I agree that the Dems can’t do it.

  117. Good article. I agree with her point about the competence of women who work for Google. One of my conservative white male manager acquaintances (no longer with company as a personal choice) was frustrated because one senior manager told him to consider women with B.S. degrees when hiring but not men and another senior manager told him to consider only candidates with graduate degrees. He was caught in the crossfire.

    That is the type of situation that frustrates some men.

  118. First I agree that Kaepernick is being treated unfairly. But considering he wore a Castro shirt and praised his policies, I don’t think Miami was ever going to work for him.

  119. I’m pretty sure the University of Virginia isn’t appreciating the free publicity it is getting right now.

  120. “The torchlight parade drew sharp condemnations from Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer and U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan.
    Sullivan described herself as “deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior”shown by the marchers.
    Signer said he was “beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.” He called the chanting procession a “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fights-in-advance-of-saturday-protest-in-charlottesville/2017/08/12/155fb636-7f13-11e7-83c7-5bd5460f0d7e_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_vaprotest-226am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.4466942b32c0

    He may be right on the hatred and bigotry charges, but how are the marchers cowardly? And wouldn’t the best response be a failure to engage them? What is accomplished by shoving matches and arrests? If these guys are looking to provoke, let them leave disappointed.

  121. Scarlett,

    I’m surprised you have such a simplistic view of American politics.

    they are running most of the “elite” segments of society.

    I imagine you think that because your own conservatism has much larger dose of social conservatism than is the case for corporate America’s more libertarian leaning conservatism.

  122. He may be right on the hatred and bigotry charges, but how are the marchers cowardly? And wouldn’t the best response be a failure to engage them? What is accomplished by shoving matches and arrests? If these guys are looking to provoke, let them leave disappointed.

    Naturally you take the same position with regard to Islamic terrorists, yes?

  123. Bill Maher learned the hard way that “coward” is an all-purpose insult that doesn’t actually have anything to do with courage. The language has changed.

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