Sexism Quantified

Here is an enlightening post about sexism in the workplace.  It turns out that in places where men are dramatically over-represented like Fortune 500 CEOs and Hedge Fund managers and Congress, the few women that have the jobs have dramatically higher results than their male counterparts.

For those who pay attention, this should hardly come as a surprise.  For those that don’t, how does one explain this phenomenon without pointing to blatant sexism?  It would certainly appear that women have to be significantly better at their jobs than men to even be considered for some positions.

If there were no sexism, wouldn’t you expect both men and women to perform about the same regardless of representation?  Then, you might have an argument by saying that women just aren’t as interested in certain positions.  But that is quite obviously not the truth.

So explain it.  I’m listening.

11 thoughts on “Sexism Quantified

  1. JimMc

    The sample sizes for the Fortune 500, Hedge funds, and Congresswomen are way too small to draw any meaningful conclusions. Those small percentages of women might represent the highest performing rich white females females whereas the larger male groups represent a greater mixture of good and bad performers with lots of other determining characteristics. Besides the metric used for “good performing” Congresspersons is pretty questionable.

  2. Jean-Paul Post author

    I’m confused. Are you saying that because there are only 500 Fortune 500 CEOs you can’t use Fortune 500 CEOs as an example or are you saying that you can’t use Fortune 500 CEOs as an example because there are too few women? If it’s the former, I think you’re wrong. The sample size is 500 and you should expect equal performance between women and men in that group. If it’s the latter, I guess you can never prove sexism because there aren’t ever enough women to quantify it. Talk about a catch-22!

    I will grant you the Congress thing is the weakest of the three, but ranking Congresscritters by how much bacon they bring home seems like the best way of measuring effectiveness that I can think of. Can you think of one better?

    I will also add that even if you do consider each one individually to be not statistically significant, how many different professions of similar sizes that show the same results would it take to be statistically significant?

    1. JimMc

      I would need my own blog to do this justice. Where to start? Basically it boils down to: everything else being equal. That is the key to statistical analysis. Can you control for as many variables as possible to isolate on the primary contributing factor? I defy you to show us any evidence that her cited examples do that. There is simply no way they were able to control for enough other variables to be able to isolate gender as being the primary contributing factor for superior performance in Fortune 500 companies, hedge funds or Congress.

      And no, there is no good metric for Congressional performance. The best one — re-election margin of victory — is so fraught with problems that it’s still a bad one.

      1. Jean-Paul Post author

        What variables aren’t being controlled? You said “Those small percentages of women might represent the highest performing rich white females” but that’s the whole point. If that were the case, why would only the highest performing rich white females get the jobs while the moderate performing men get it?

        1. JimMc

          As I said, I would need my own blog. Too much here to go thru, I’m just not going to waste your space nor my time. And seriously, you can’t think of all the variables, besides gender of the CEO, that contribute to performance of Fortune 500 companies? Wow.

  3. Steven Scott

    The problem that my mother ran into was that her company wouldn’t promote her any higher without a college degree.

    I don’t think they made that designation to be sexist since they even offered to pay for my mom to go to Depaul. However, she couldn’t handle trying to take night courses while maintaining her responsibilities in a job that required her to work 10 hour days just to come home and answer 100 emails when she wasn’t travelling (which she did often).

    The sexism in her situation came from my grandparents unilaterally deciding that girls don’t need to go to college and boys do. So from my perspective, I hope parents are better about that (and they are, if the college numbers on the ratio of boys/girls is true) then this should correct itself.

    1. Jean-Paul Post author

      Luckily, that is a problem of decades past. Women have graduated college in larger numbers than men since at least 1985. Today, 60% of graduates are female.

      1. Steven Scott

        Yes and no….you had to be born back then in order to be of an average age to appear on one of the bellwethers you posted above. I agree with you, but I’m saying you wont see that for another 20 years or so.

        1. Jean-Paul Post author

          Women attained college graduation parity in 1985. That was 28 years ago. Those women are now approaching 50. The median age of Fortune 500 CEOs is 55. We should be seeing it now.

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