Destroying STEM and Female Progress with One Fell Swoop
What is your opinion? Are women as intelligent as men? Scientifically the average IQ of men and women are identical with some variation in the spread of general IQ levels over the gradient. The average however is identical. Basic instincts in thought patterns however are very different. Females have a more developed pre-frontal lobe thus being more emotionally sensitive and have a 25 percent larger corpus callosum, responsible for interhemispheric connection of the two brain hemispheres. The interhemispheric connection is a significant factor in allowing women to think of multiple things at the same time and is coupled with emotional sensitivity which are imperative for successful child rearing. Then what about the male brain? The corpus callosum is obviously not as large, which is understandable considering that males have a more linear thinking pattern thus acting as a type of “noise filter”. The pre-frontal cortex is less developed and for good reason. Studies have shown that hyper or hypo sensitivity in the male pre-frontal cortex is a strong indicator of violent or other antisocial behaviors. Males and females make up two halves of one social whole, providing perspectives that the other gender may not be capable of seeing. This is a simple biological axiom.
What on earth does all this have to do with STEM and the progress of women in Western society?
Let us consider the cold hard facts. Men and women share the same average IQ, they have very different biological and cognitive patterns, in health relationships whether personal or professional males and females respectively function has respective halves of a whole and binary unit. These are very important variables to consider. In free societies, that is to say societies that have legally encoded standards of equality for men and women (Canada, USA, Australia, UK, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, etc), where men and women are freely permitted to choose occupations, similar gender concentrations are found in the same fields. To illustrate, the majority of nursing professionals, education professionals and customer service professionals in these lands are women, the majority of architects, builders, and IT professionals are male. What does this mean?
Men and women naturally migrate towards fields that a) are of interest, b) choose fields which are a personal “biological fit”. By now some have likely been triggered. The term “biological fit” here used does not imply that all of a certain gender will innately be suited to a specific field but rather that there is numerically greater chance that the variables based on their innate biology will lead them into a certain direction of interest which is suited to an area in which their biological processes are more likely to become a competitive advantage. What does this all have to do with women and STEM? This is the second time that this question has been asked.
We know that men and women have the same innate IQ on average, however they have different biology leading to different interests and ultimately different choices.
Still, failing to see the point?
STEM is generally referred to as male dominated. Is that a correct assumption? From a social studies perspective this seems like a very broad statement with too many variables to actually be considered factually accurate. From the outset the semantics of STEM, the abbreviation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics shows that contrary to the notion of a single field that STEM is in fact an amalgamation of numerous fields all with multiple subfields of specialization, these subfields respectively dominated by either of the two genders. For example, take one section of science, the field of medicine. Just classifying medicine as medicine is erroneous due to the many subfields within medicine itself. Then consider two subfields, pediatric medicine and surgery. Pediatric medicine in most western lands is a female dominated subfield with surgery being a male dominated subfield. This is a classic example of gravitation toward a biological competitive advantage. Females are generally more nurturing on an emotional level making them excel in pediatric medicine, while males prefer technical fields such as surgery tend to be less about human relationships and physically more demanding. Does this mean that a female cannot be a brain surgeon? Of course not! What a preposterous notion! It simply means that there is less likelihood out of the total population of medical students that a female would choose the field of surgery. It is merely a matter of average ratios. The opposite is true for female dominated fields such as nursing with only 2~5% males in nursing.
Then what about the opening title?
There is a modern and disturbing trend which calls for the lowering of the bar to admit more women into STEM. Who are the most vocal advocates for this? Interesting, not women who are already in STEM. The most vocal advocates tend to be feminist groups who seem upset that STEM degrees are somewhat more respected and considerably more difficult to earn that degrees in “feminist interpretive dance theory”. It seems to be the greatest of paradoxes that the same groups who demand that women are equal should expect the bar to be “lowered” for women. In reality, they are stating the very opposite of the objective scientific studies that show that both sexes have the same average IQ. Semantically, lowering the bar implies that women are not intellectually capable of meeting the rigorous standards needed for STEM. However, this so called “help” by feminists is likely to have much the opposite effect. Consider the social implications.
Some of the most brilliant women that I have had the privilege of meeting or working with are professionals in STEM. Of these, the most brilliant all work in fields that are not “typically female” or “female dominant” fields of STEM namely robotics and computer engineering. All of these women made great efforts to outcompete others, to become the best in their field and to earn respect in their field. They did not ask for the bar to be lowered, rather they not only overcame that bar but cleared it by leaps and bounds. Lowering the bar is an outright insult to the efforts of such women. Further, lowering the bar creates the atmosphere of tokenism and brings about the assumption that a female only got to her position by means of being held to a lower set of expectations. Is that true equality? Is it not rather something that devalues women in STEM by assuming that they are not intellectually or cognitively capable of succeeding when there are high standards? This seems to be the modern equivalent of the 18th century expression of “it’s so simple a woman could do it.” In my humble opinion this is merely projection on the part of feminists and also shows a gross double standard. Either women are strong, intelligent and capable or they are weak victims, one cannot merely chop and change as one sees fit. I would go so far as to venture the thought that this is really internalised misogyny on the part of feminists who view females incapable of highly complex tasks. Apart from this clear oxymoron in logic, it seems pertinent to understand the opinions of women who actually work in STEM. I asked three women in the computer/engineering fields about their greatest difficulties. None of them mentioned men as being one of the problematic factors. They did however lament that lowering the bar so to speak only served to undermine the hard work and fine reputations that they had built in their industries and that prospective new employers are customers would be less likely to take their achievements seriously once a dumbing down of STEM occurred. All three expressed that the most emotional and relational difficulties actually came from other women, especially feminists in the workplace, who seemed the most threatened by their lack of virtue signaling and output of high quality work. One woman had suffered for quite some time due to a crusade against her by a feminist woman at work. When I was in high school, one of my female friends was so exceptionally skilled in science that she was invited to study at university at the age of just sixteen. She is still a brilliant scientist with expertise covering robotics, engineering and other skills. Should her efforts and skills be downplayed by giving free passes to others in her field for simply being female? This is simply illogical. Women in male dominated fields have earned their places there, they competed with men to be there. Affirmative action is not in the interests of true female scientists.
Then what is the simple solution?
It is very rare in life that complex social issues have a simple remedy. This case is however different. Rather than forcing affirmative action and lowering the bar, both of which are counterproductive, maintain the same standards for all, for that is true equality. Further, do not assume that women are incapable of entering STEM without a helping hand for that is indeed the epitome of misogynistic thought. Do not make imaginary quotas of gender in the workplace that have not scientific basis. STEM fields that are not “traditionally female” are gaining more female professionals as population growth means that the percentage of females interested in these subjects increases. In an organic model therefore, STEM is bound to naturally gain more women without the arbitrary and condescending need to lower the bar. None of the hardworking and highly intelligent women who have rightfully earned their places in STEM should be subject to having their competitive advantage undermined by movements that claim to want equality but rather are willing to hurt women to further their own ideological aims.
Clarification of Terminology: There are two genders. Sex and gender are synonyms for everyone who is free of pseudoscientific radical ideology. This article treats the terms sex and gender as synonyms based on the chromosomal construct of an individual.
Alaric Naudé is a professor specialising in education, linguistics and social science. He is widely recognised as having a great face for radio.