Archive for the ‘sociology’ tag
I’d been vaguely familiar with this history, but the extant of the phenomenon and the details of this article presents were new to me.
Eager to identify talented individuals to train as computer programmers, employers relied on aptitude tests to make hiring decisions. With their focus on mathematical puzzle-solving, the tests may have favored men, who were more likely to take math classes in school. More critically, the tests were widely compromised and their answers were available for study through all-male networks such as college fraternities and Elks lodges.
According to Ensmenger, a second type of test, the personality profile, was even more slanted to male applicants. Based on a series of preference questions, these tests sought to indentify job applicants who were the ideal programming “type.” According to test developers, successful programmers had most of the same personality traits as other white-collar professionals. The important distinction, however, was that programmers displayed “disinterest in people” and that they disliked “activities involving close personal interaction.”
I’m not generally a fan of text interviews — you lose all brevity of well-composed prose and gain only portability of text — but I love this topic and found the conversational tone effective. Joshua Rathman interviews the woman who coined the term “privilege,” Peggy McIntosh, in the sociological context:
I came to this dawning realization: niceness has nothing to do with it. These are nice men. But they’re very good students of what they’ve been taught, which is that men make knowledge. And I realized this is why we were oppressive to work with—because, in parallel fashion, Ihad been taught that whites make knowledge.
This is when you came up with the forty-six examples of white privilege?
I asked myself, On a daily basis, what do I have that I didn’t earn? It was like a prayer. The first one I thought of was: I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
This is a simple small chart that points to a deeper and subtler truth. Worth a quick click.
(via Language Log)
I am a white upper-middle-class American male. I spent almost exactly four years working retail. This hit hope:
Despite being the beneficiary of numerous societal advantages and having faced little to no major adversity throughout his life, local man Travis Benton has spent the last four years squandering his white male privilege on a sales floor job at Best Buy, sources confirmed Tuesday. “You can get by with a regular HDMI cable, but if you’re looking at a length longer than 10 feet, I’d go with a gold-tipped one,” said the man dressed in a bright blue polo shirt and pin-on name tag as he continued to fritter away such innate life advantages as greater access to higher education, leniency from the justice system, and favorable treatment from other white males who lead and make hiring decisions at a disproportionately high number of American companies.
I’ve always found this idea kind of tenuous, but hard to deny:
The data reveals a clear pattern: People are interested in people like themselves. Women on eHarmony favor men who are similar not just in obvious ways — age, attractiveness, education, income — but also in less apparent ones, such as creativity. Even when eHarmony includes a quirky data point — like how many pictures are included in a user’s profile — women are more likely to message men similar to themselves. In fact, of the 102 traits in the data set, there was not one for which women were more likely to contact men with opposite traits.1
Men were a little more open-minded. For 80 percent of traits, they were more willing to message those different from them. They still preferred mates who were similar in terms of height or attractiveness2, but they cared less about these traits — and they didn’t care much at all about other things women cared about, like similarity in education level or number of photos taken.3 They cared less about whether their match shared their ethnicity.4
While the author is kind of careful, she does have a bit of a corrupted data set — using data almost exclusively form a website whose whole business model is matching similar people — she at least acknowledges it. Still would like to see someone find a better way to study the topic, but the basic fact that most couples are more similar than different is hard to deny.
This thing is mind-blowingly good. It’s simultaneously beautiful and a good way to get a sense of the data it presents, which is unfortunately rare.
I’ve snapped a static picture above, but you really should take a bit of time to interact if you’re the least bit curious. Some of the actions are a bit puzzling, but clicking around a few times give you a sense of its power and utility.
You don’t have to agree, but it’s a pretty plausible explanation for many things, include the leadership gap he’s talking about:
There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes, that prevents women from accessing the ranks of power. Conservatives and chauvinists tend to endorse the first; liberals and feminists prefer the third; and those somewhere in the middle are usually drawn to the second. But what if they all missed the big picture?
In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.
If you’ve not seen this by now, you should watch it. It’s a sweet video premise: take 10 pairs of strangers and have them kiss for the first time.
A really interesting point I’d never encountered:
How many calls to a typical U.S. fire department are actually about fires? Less than 20%. If fire departments aren’t getting calls about fires, what are they mostly getting calls about? They are getting calls about medical emergencies, traffic accidents, and, yes, cats in trees, but they are rarely being called about fires. They are, in other words, organizations that, despite their name, deal with everything but fires.
Why, then, are they called fire departments? Because of history. Cities used to be built out of pre-combustion materials—wood straight from the forest, for example—but they are now mostly built of post-combustion materials—steel, concrete, and other materials that have passed through flame. Fire departments were created when fighting fires was an urgent urban need, and now their name lives on, a reminder of their host cities’ combustible past.
The post goes on to explore how this exists for other models in the world, and is well worth reading, but I never really recognized that specifically about fire departments.