Andy Warhol’s “Eat,” 1964
[many thanks to Calypso]
Andy Warhol’s “Eat,” 1964
[many thanks to Calypso]
Goodness, that’s as bad as philosophy! The relevant article in the NY Times is occasioned by a meeting scheduled for Monday, but the explanations/suggestions given by those interviewed are interesting at least as samples of culture if not as solutions. A sample:
-[THE WINNER] “I personally don’t think playwriting is a gene on a Y chromosome,” said Theresa Rebeck, a playwright whose work (“Omnium Gatherum,” “Mauritius,” “The Scene”) has been produced frequently on New York stages, including on Broadway. She added that there has been a reluctance to confront the issue: “Many of our male peers find the debate intolerable. Men in the community seem to think that everything is fine.” Ms. Rebeck said that male friends “in the system say to me I have to keep my mouth shut; don’t be part of the problem, don’t be a whiner.” But Ms. Rebeck, who has written on the subject in the London newspaper The Guardian and attended the last meeting, has disregarded their advice. “I think it puts in question excellence,” she said. “Whether it’s cronyism or bias,” she added, the result was that a message is sent that what is put onstage is “not about excellence.”
-[a general suggestion] “It’s harder for women playwrights and directors,” said Oskar Eustis, artistic director at the nonprofit Public Theater, because “it’s harder for professional women in the United States.”…“The issue is best dealt with by consistent consciousness-raising rather than a specific program,” he added, saying the same approach applies to minority playwrights. [Hmmm, jj]
-The explanation for such an imbalance is a puzzle, said André Bishop, the artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater, which has one Broadway and two Off Broadway theaters. Some people argue that “most artistic directors are men, and they don’t relate to or connect with women as much as men,” Mr. Bishop said. “Connecting to a play is a very personal and unconscious thing,” he mused. “I hope that isn’t true, but I don’t know.” He added, “I try to think about these things all the time, but I don’t, because I’m a pathetic mortal.”
-Lynne Meadow is an example of that rare commodity Mr. Bishop referred to: a female artistic director in New York. Ms. Meadow, who has led Manhattan Theater Club for more than 35 years, reviewed submissions from recent years and estimated that about 40 percent came from women. Of 22 plays commissioned in the past eight years, 8 have been by women, she said. [that's 36% jj] Manhattan Theater Club has two Off Broadway stages and one Broadway theater.
-[a suggestion] For Carole Rothman, the co-founder and artistic director of Second Stage, the disadvantaged position of women is a familiar story. … She added that contacting enlightened foundations that provide money to the arts and recruiting powerful female artists like Eve Ensler and Jane Fonda are other useful tactics.
That’s the not entirely inapt metaphor for uterine fibroid tumors quoted in NY Times.** There are a lot of new treatments for them, and readers who have the problem and don’t want to have a hysterectomy might want to look at the article.
** Since there’s at least one philosopher of language here, I should say more precisely the phrase refers to “the disease.”
The US job market season is almost upon us. Soon we’ll be hearing about how women and minorities have an advantage because everyone is so eager to hire them. And yet we’ll also be hearing complaints about the continuing underrepresentation of women and minorities. By the end of it all, people of genuine good will on hiring committees will be shaking their heads with puzzlement wondering why, despite their good intentions and efforts, they have not managed to hire more women or minorities. Research on implicit bias can help us to make sense of this situation. What I found most fascinating in the research described below was the strong desire of HR managers to hire more minorities, and the total inefficacy of this desire.
In perhaps the most dramatic real-world correlate of the bias tests, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago recently sent out 5,000 résumés to 1,250 employers who had help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston. The résumés were culled from Internet Web sites and mailed out with one crucial change: Some applicants were given stereotypically white-sounding names such as Greg; others were given black-sounding names such as Tyrone.
Interviews beforehand with human resources managers at many companies in Boston and Chicago had led the economists to believe that black applicants would be more likely to get interview calls: Employers said they were hungry for qualified minorities and were aggressively seeking diversity. Every employer got four résumés: an average white applicant, an average black applicant, a highly skilled white applicant and a highly skilled black applicant.
The economists measured only one outcome: Which résumés triggered callbacks?
To the economists’ surprise, the résumés with white-sounding names triggered 50 percent more callbacks than résumés with black-sounding names. Furthermore, the researchers found that the high-quality black résumés drew no more calls than the average black résumés. Highly skilled candidates with white names got more calls than average white candidates, but lower-skilled candidates with white names got many more callbacks than even highly skilled black applicants.
Philosophers often insist, like the HR managers in this study, that women and minorities have an advantage. Until someone comes up with a good evidence that we’re special in some way that frees us from implicit bias, I think the presumption should be the opposite. And that we need to be very aware of this. (For some more of our recent blogging on this topic, see here and here.)
The next question, of course, is what to do. Stay tuned.