Monday, February 16, 2015

Represented By Choice

Scott Alexander has yet another great essay on the nominal subject of black underrepresentation in polyamority, but really, it's a sermon on the subject of "how do some people cluster to some groups and not in others?"

Some people try to explain the underrepresentation of blacks in libertarianism and the Tea Party by arguing that these groups’ political beliefs are contrary to black people’s life experiences. But blacks are also underrepresented in groups with precisely the opposite politics. That they make up only 1.6% of visitors to the Occupy Wall Street website is no doubt confounded by who visits websites, but even people who looked at the protests agree that there was a stunning shortage of black faces. I would have liked to get current membership statistics for the US Communist Party, but they weren’t available, so I fudged by looking at the photos of people who “liked” the US Communist Party’s Facebook page. 3% of them were black. Blacks are more likely to endorse environmentalism than whites, but less likely to be involved in the environmentalist movement.

Some people try to explain black people’s underrepresentation on Wall Street by saying Wall Street is racist and intolerant. But Unitarian Universalists are just about the most tolerant people in the world – nobody even knows what they do, just that they’re extremely tolerant when they do it – and black people are in Unitarianism at lower rates than they’re on Wall Street.
 "[N]eighborhoods and churches tend to end up mostly monoracial through a complicated process of aggregating small acts of self-segregation" he continues, and while we know that redlining was a real thing, it's also not 100% responsible for various neighborhoods' racial makeup. People's individual choices have consequences en masse, which brings me to the next item: a research paper by Maria Charles at UC Santa Barbara (PDF) with a number of fascinating findings, on the subject of women's economic progress.
International trends lend considerable credence to evolutionary arguments. Public tolerance for discriminatory policies has declined sharply since World War II, and principles of procedural equality and nondiscrimination have garnered near-universal affirmation in national and international forums. As most of the world’s governments have formally recognized the human and civil rights of women, legal barriers to female employment, education, voting, and property ownership have been largely eliminated. [emphasis mine -- RLM]

Despite the spectacular scope and speed of these egalitarian trends, it is well known that certain forms of gender inequality remain firmly entrenched. In labor markets, educational systems, and households around the world, women concentrate in female-typed occupations and fields of study and perform much more than an equal share of unpaid work. It is becoming increasingly evident that changes in women’s status occur not through the sort of across-the-board degendering of social institutions that is implied by evolutionary accounts, but rather through processes of partial, domain-specific equalization.
 Nothing in this paper is more important than the finding that women opt out of STEM programs at a rate weakly and negatively correlated to national GDP (r=-0.48):

If it's true that "American girls who aim to 'study what they love' are unlikely to consider male-labeled science, engineering, or technical fields, despite the relative material security provided by such degrees", perhaps we should be asking what their priorities are, and why a misguided egalitarianism isn't liable to change that.

No comments:

Post a Comment