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Mon Feb 18, 2013, 10:13 PM

Proving and Quantifying Sexism

In many areas of life, especially in cases where a person must apply to enter an organization, field or job, there are large gender gaps. Whenever feminists call for equal representation by women in a particular endeavor, detractors often claim that adding more women means better-qualified men will get bumped down. They claim that in order to get an equal number of women and men, the bar must be lowered on quality. For example, some in the skeptic movement have claimed that adding more women speakers at skeptic and atheist conferences means replacing more qualified men with less qualified women.

As a feminist, I don’t believe this is true. I believe that increasing representation of women will increase the quality of the endeavor. I also believe the thing keeping women from certain fields in which they are under-represented is institutionalized sexism. As a social scientist though, I don’t just want to believe these things. I want to prove them and I want to measure them. To do that, we have to find something measurable that would be an effect of institutionalized sexism.

First, lets create a game theory model to come up with a hypothesis of how the world should look if there is sexism present. Then, we’ll go out into the real world to see if we can find examples of it in action.

Lets say we’re a conference and we’re putting together a panel of experts. We want 6 people on our panel but we have 10 candidates: five women and five men. The men and women have varying qualifications for the panel, which we’ll rate on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most qualified). Here they all are, with the women represented in purplish-pink and the men in blue (because if we’re already assuming only two genders exist for this problem, we might as well go with the cultural representations of those genders). The numbers represent their qualification rating. Two individuals with the same rating are considered of equal qualification (so the woman rated as 4 is exactly as qualified as the man rated as 4).


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Reply Proving and Quantifying Sexism (Original post)
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 OP
redqueen Feb 2013 #1

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 11:20 AM

1. Very interesting stuff!

Institutionalized Sexism isn’t just some crazy idea feminists came up with to try to get qualified men fired and replaced by unqualified women. Evidence out in the real world shows that in areas which contain large gender imbalances, the women are generally better at their jobs than the men. Since we don’t have any good reason to believe that women are somehow just innately better than men, then it means that sexism present either in the choices of individuals or in the pool of individuals that the choices will come from.

I'd seen the study about politicians, but not boardrooms or hedge funds. Fascinating.

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