Importance of Critical Mass

Apparently women are less likely to “thrive” in environments where less than 30% of senior executives are women. Ties into the Haslanger paper Stoat mentioned earier. The research is on business, not academia, though. (Would be pretty hard to test to see if the same thing happens in philosophy! Though other fields would be possible.)

3 thoughts on “Importance of Critical Mass

  1. That sounds like the sort of thing that’s likely to have a common cause explanation. Environments having features X, Y, Z that support women’s success make it more likely both that women will “thrive”, and that more senior executives will be women. That’s not to say there isn’t any direct causal influence (it makes sense that there would be some), but none of the evidence the article cites favors this as the dominant explanation for the correlation, rather than the common cause explanation. Unless I’ve missed something?

  2. Yes, that seems right. In fact it’s very hard to see how one could get evidence that clearly favours one of the explanations over the other. (Force women-unfriendly companies to hire 30% women executives and see what happens? Not too promising.)

  3. Interesting. I had a worry connected to Jender’s comment. I’m afraid I’m not very familiar with theories of causation, but how can in general the contrasting hypotheses be told apart—that B causes C vs that A causes both B and C? And which kind of evidence would be relevant for the particular case at hand?

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