Yup, definitely being taken over by women

Over the last year, we have heard a lot about the feminist/women’s (there are different versions) takeover of philosophy. That line of thought is nicely put in perspective by the various other similar claims discussed here.

The idea of a gender perception gap is borne out by studies in other areas. In one study on gender parity in the workforce, sent my way by colleague Flavia Dzodan, it was found that men “consistently perceive more gender parity” in their workplaces than women do. For example, when asked whether their workplaces recruited the same number of men and women, 72 percent of male managers answered “yes.” Only 42 percent of female managers agreed. And, while there’s a persistent stereotype that women are the more talkative gender, women actually tend to talk less than men in classroom discussions, professional contexts and even romantic relationships; one study found that a mixed-gender group needed to be between 60 and 80 percent female before women and men occupied equal time in the conversation. However, the stereotype would seem to have its roots in that same perception gap: “[In] seminars and debates, when women and men are deliberately given an equal amount of the highly valued talking time, there is often a perception that [women] are getting more than their fair share.”

How do you give men the impression of a female majority? Show them a female minority, and let that minority do some talking. This is how 15 minutes of Fey and Poehler becomes three hours of non-stop “estrogen,” how a Congress that’s less than 19 percent female becomes a “feminized” and male-intolerant political environment, and how one viable female Presidential candidate becomes an unstoppable, man-squashing Godzilla. Men tend to perceive equality when women are vastly outnumbered and underrepresented; it follows that, as we approach actual parity, men (and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, for some reason) will increasingly believe that we are entering an era of female domination.

(Thanks, L!)

2 thoughts on “Yup, definitely being taken over by women

  1. I’m confused about the relationship of the post’s title to the research cited in the post.

    Men are principally the ones claiming that the profession being taken over by or has bias for women/feminists in certain respects, like hiring. Nevertheless, as the article claims, men “consistently perceive more gender parity”. Consequently, in cases where there is bias, men are more likely to perceive that there is no bias, i.e., that there is gender parity. So, that men perceive bias in an area is relatively strong evidence that there is bias in that area, given that, as the article suggests, men are less sensitive to the existence of bias. This implies that male perception of bias for women/feminists in philosophy is strong evidence for that bias.

    Surely the correct response is that what the study *really* shows is that men are more likely to ignore bias in their favour. There are two problems with this. First, given my cursory examination of Dzodan’s work, the research isn’t comprehensive enough to support this stronger response. In particular, it did not examine female-dominated workplaces to see whether men were more likely to misperceive gender parity there.

    Second, why not suppose that women are equally blind to bias in their favour and that men’s blindness in Dzodan’s cases follows from a more general blindness to bias in one’s favour. In that case, wouldn’t Dzodan’s research suggest that women are *less* sensitive or relatively epistemically disadvantaged to the kind of bias (sarcastically) decried by this post’s title?

  2. I highly recommend Patricia Williams’ essay, “White Men Can’t Count” in her collection, The Rooster’s Egg.

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