Affirmative action for math-challenged women

If you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer and you’re a white male, then you’re just a “dumb person” with few rights or privileges.  But if you’re also a “minority” or female, then this works to your advantage.  “Affirmative action” is a polite way of saying, “Not the best qualified, but we can use this person to keep the diversity gestapo at bay.”  If you are a white male who happens to be of superior ability, then you have little to worry about; affirmative action was not designed to victimize you.  It was designed to victimize white males who are less than brilliant in their respective fields, i.e. most of the rest of us.

Affirmative action for women is nothing new, but human stupidity (who sends me a lot of stuff) has brought my attention to a more novel way to persecute white men:  Affirmative action for women in math tests.  From the link he sent me:

Affirmative action for women in math contests boosts participation without dropping results

Despite advances in many areas, women are still underrepresented in the upper levels of corporations, electoral politics, and some scientific research fields. This lack of parity is all the more striking because, in much of the developed world, women’s educational achievements have surpassed those of men. (In 2009 in the United States, 57 percent of currently enrolled students were female, a trend that has been fairly stable over several decades.) This imbalance has been ascribed to two factors: continuing gender discrimination, and lower desire for competitiveness among women.

Focusing on the competitiveness aspect, a new study indicates that policy-based initiatives can increase women’s participation and competitiveness in math and the quality of the resulting work. The particular experiment performed by Loukas Balafoutas and Matthias Sutter, released February 2 by Science, involved three methods that provided an initial advantage to women in a math competition. The authors found that, in each case, women entered the competitions more readily, but the aggregate performance of the participants was unaffected, and sometimes even improved.

The common feature in all three methods is an affirmative action approach: the active promotion of the underrepresented group. Passive methods (such as increasing potential rewards for everyone) do improve participation by women, but they also improve men’s performance as well, which leaves the gender gap in place. Affirmative action, on the other hand, not only changes the odds of success by women, but (according to the authors of a related study) also increases their confidence and willingness to compete in the first place…

Left unexplained is why it is a bad thing if women are “underrepresented” in certain fields.  A commenter points out that there doesn’t seem to be much concern that men are underrepresented in traditionally female fields.  I would add that there doesn’t seem to be any concern that women are largely absent from fields such as garbage collection and mining.

While there is nothing wrong with trying to boost the participation of women in certain professions, if we might be missing out on important talent, I still don’t understand why it is a bad thing that there are gender gaps.  It doesn’t seem to bother most people that men are physically stronger than women, so why would it be a problem if there are more male math-geniuses than female ones?

Predictably, most of the comments call a spade a spade and don’t fall for the obvious double-speak.  One commenter, who calls himself Dr Jay (no relation), tries to justify the practice by writing:

I think people are getting hung up on “affirmative action” and missing the forest for the trees. The key question you have to ask yourself is the following: what is the purpose of the competition?

If the competition is simply intended to identify whoever scores the best in the competition, then there really isn’t any call for intervention. But if the competition is intended to identify the most talented math students (a situation more analogous to real-world situations like job hunts), then you face an issue. The issue could be best summarized by noting the following two points:
1) Research has provided a pretty compelling indication that math talents are equally divided between the sexes (some of this has been covered by Ars in the past).
2) Participation in math contests is not equally divided between the sexes.

So, a contest without intervention stands a good chance of not identifying the best talent. Providing an inducement that tackles issue 2 is a way of adjusting for that.

Now, there are all sorts of potential subtleties here – maybe you’re looking to fill a job that requires both math skills and competitiveness, etc. – that can influence how important it is to handle issue 2. And there are studies that could be done to clarify exactly what’s happening (the most obvious to me is determining whether women with exceptional talents are more likely to enter competitions). But i think the issues here are more subtle than a lot of people’s reactions to them.

But, by that reasoning (and I’m not convinced his claims are valid), we can just as easily claim that math talent is equally distributed among heterosexuals and homosexuals (proportionally), right-handed people and left-handed people, innies and outies, people who like classic rock and those who prefer heavy metal etc.  Would this mean that we must search out statistical variations between the above groups and then try to remedy them?  Of course not; it all boils down to politics.  Women are considered “oppressed”, therefore we are told we must guarantee them equal outcomes for prestigious positions.

Where will it all end?  it is not hard to foresee a future where smart people are penalized in all academic tests and strong people must wear weights in order to offset their advantage over weak people.  I remember reading a science fiction story about just such a scenario once; it described a world few of us would want to live in.


About jewamongyou

I am a paleolibertarian Jew who is also a race-realist. My opinions are often out of the mainstream and often considered "odd" but are they incorrect? Feel free to set me right if you believe so!
This entry was posted in nurture vs. nature and I.Q., shenanigans of the Left and of non-white activists. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Affirmative action for math-challenged women

  1. Georgia Resident says:

    It bothers radical feminists that women either tend not to be good at or are not interested in math and science because these subjects are essential to modernity. Modern technology has, in many ways, rendered uniquely male advantages such as superior strength less important. But as long as men are the primary creators and sustainers of the technology that makes women more independent in their everyday lives than they could otherwise be, women will still be dependent, albeit indirectly, on men. Radical feminists can’t stand this, because it flies in the face of the deep-seated disdain or outright hatred that they’ve nursed against all men, and which has come to define every aspect of their existence.

    Also, most degrees that pay well require more math than the average person in general, but especially the average woman (we’ll leave out the legendary NAM aversion to mathematics here and consider only differences between white men and white women) is willing or able to learn. As such, the pay gap between men and women is an economic reality that cannot circumvented unless women can somehow achieve in math and science at the same level as men. This too makes radical feminists very angry.

    • Georgia Resident says:

      Also, while I can’t say for certain what the research says about average male and female math talent (the subject really doesn’t interest me that much), what I do know is that most research tends to indicate that there is greater variation in male intelligence than in female intelligence (at least in whites, don’t know about other races). So even if men and women have equal math talent on average, the math whizzes (the people who compete in math contests) are still likely to be disproportionately male, because there are more men on the far right of the bell curve. By the same token, assuming equal math talent, the hopeless dullards who can’t grasp long division are also likely to be disproportionately male, but this group doesn’t stand out as much.

      Finally, women seem not to like math that much. It simply does not appeal to (typical) feminine interests as much as other subjects, so even if they have equal ability, women will be less likely to work hard at developing that ability.

  2. seedofjapheth says:

    I notice that very educated people like to use the word parity when they write stuff.

  3. Jehu says:

    The claim of equal mathematical ability between the sexes at the high end is laughable. Back when I was in high school, I did competitive mathematics at the state and regional and (more rarely) at the national level. At the state level I noticed that although there were actually a fair number of women competing, I don’t recall a single one ever placing above me. If men and women had equal probabilities of math ability at this level, I witnessed a long-running incredibly improbable event.

  4. Aussie Lady says:

    As a woman I am getting so fed up, irritated and annoyed at this constant handicapping of everyone else to try to promote the achievements of women. Its insulting. I wish these stupid radical feminists or whoever would just shut up and go do something useful. Its funny that those who keep insisting women are brilliant at math are not brilliant at math themselves.

    What pride is there in doing well only because your competition was handicapped?

    Math was my best subject at school but in no way did I want to spend the rest of my career specialising fulltime in it. Most women are the same, we want to do work that meets our social needs and our need to feel a sense of achievement and contribution to the world. Not locked in a basement by ourselves with math formulae.

    I always felt annoyed about all the radical feminists making a career whining amongst themselves about evil men holding women back, while women like me were actually out there working in male dominated careers and finding that most men were really pleasant to work with! Give them respect and you get respect back, perhaps that’s the lesson the feminazis need to learn.

    I was sent to a Women’s Conference Day by my female manager about ten years ago and the whining was unbelievable – they were all convinced that evil men where holding them back in their careers just because they were women. I felt so ill at this pathetic behaviour that I wanted to leave but stayed as i had been sent there. All I learned was that most women were big babies who whined and blamed others when they didn’t get their way and refused to look at themselves and ask if they had the right stuff for that next promotion. I always found that being competent, pleasant and relatively obedient at your job made promotions come naturally. Whining isn’t a good look when you are looking to be promoted.

    Georgia Resident is correct, Femmos are well aware that STEM is mostly societally useful and decently paid hence they want their troops in there getting the big dollars and searching for the mythical 50/50 participation level. Ain’t gonna happen. Biology is working against them in many ways. In my science career, the women were competent but not aggressively competitive like the men and they started dropping like flies in their late 20s to have kids. Once a woman had a baby, she was never as devoted to her job. That’s natural, baby comes first, just as nature intended. The only way women can hope to come close to men career success wise is if nobody has children, which is suicide for a society.

  5. Aussie Lady says:

    I forgot to add that American style affirmative action and quotas seems very strange to me, I was introduced to the concept of affirmative action in the 80s in Australia as that if a man and a woman were equally qualified and experienced for the job, then the woman should get the job to even things up a bit. Not that a lesser qualified and experienced woman should get the job. It didn’t hang around very long and everyone competes on a theoretical level playing field as far as I know now.

    As far as I know, we don’t have any race quotas and criteria for university and jobs either. University entrance is solely on your school results and maybe a special exam and aptitude interview for certain courses like medicine. None of this we want so many blacks, so many asians, so many this and that.

    • jewamongyou says:

      Enjoy the lack of racial quotas while it lasts. As the number of Africans increases in your country, their increasing political clout will pressure politicians, and institutions, to institute quotas for them. But they won’t just vote; they’ll also riot, protest and intimidate until they get their special privileges. It works the same way all over the world: Have lots of babies, make lots of noise, scare a lot of people and demand set-asides.

  6. Gay State Girl says:

    Feminism Explained

    But on a more serious note, too many degrees require advanced mathematics. The majority of the people working in the business work, in health care, or even in many IT positions will have no use for multivariable Calculus. I now tutor mathematics to challenged students at community college and I can see their tuition and course hours could be better spent elsewhere.

  7. anti-racist says:

    The truth is that white men have had over 200 years of affirmative action.

    Read Leonard Pitts on the subject.

    • jewamongyou says:

      It was mainly white men who created the society we live in today, so it stands to reason that they would have some sort of advantage in the past. Black men have the advantage in Africa (and now, everywhere), Asian men have the advantage in Asia. I don’t see many people complaining about that.

      But this type of affirmative action ended well before most of us were even born. Now all we want is fairness. Too much to ask?

    • destructure says:

      anti-racist is anything but. I went to a majority black school in a majority black city. What advantage did I have over the blacks students there that they should get affirmative action at my expense?

    • WillieMaize24 says:

      What would Leonard Pitts know about it that we don’t. Besides, no white male living today has been alive for 200 years, and even if white males have had affirmative action for 200 years, then the women they supported were the beneficiaries of it.

    • WillieMaize24 says:

      Also, the males who’d be entering these contests will often have last names like Patel, Wong, Yamashita, and Goldberg. People with last names like that haven’t been the beneficiaries of affirmative action for 200 years.

  8. Dumbo says:

    I believe that the short story about total equality that you mention is “Harrison Bergeron”, by Kurt Vonnegut:

    It seems they made a TV movie out of it too, but I couldn’t find it online: Vonnegut was (I believe) mostly left wing, but very perceptive.

  9. WillieMaize24 says:

    There are a few things here that are really sinister.
    1, The people doing the study are guys, who’ve apparently internalized radical feminist values.
    2. Their definition of reverse discrimination is off. It’s reverse discrimination because a guy isn’t competing under the same rules as a girl is,
    3. The authors think that a solution is apparently no good if men and women improve equally because there’s still a gender gap. So they have to make it so that women do better but not men.
    4. How many guys are going to voluntarily compete in a math contest under these conditions? Any guy with principles is going to boycott the contest. The competitors are going to be almost all female, so of course the girls are going to win more prizes.

  10. Samuel says:


    I just want to say that I am new to this site, and I find it very enjoyable.

    I am a former white nationalist, having abandoned that worldview quite some time ago after becoming disillusioned with the far fetched anti-semitic conspiracy theories and fairly tails. To borrow the cliche from above, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. It eventually became clear to me that it was far-left liberals that were the problem in european/american society, not jews. That is a distinction I should have made long ago, and it is because of good people like you that I ever did at all. I just want you to know that people like you (jew and gentile alike), that aren’t afraid of the truth, can and do make a difference.

    I have your site favorited, and I will check back from time to time.

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