STUMP » Articles » Fight the Patriarchy! Work More! Study Engineering! » 31 October 2014, 07:25

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Fight the Patriarchy! Work More! Study Engineering!  


31 October 2014, 07:25

I generally find “women’s issues” tiresome. (yeah, yeah, shut up, guys). But I do love number-crunching, and I’m tired of some of the blather.

There have been multiple ridiculous videos going around, trying to… I don’t know. Cement women in victim status, or something. There’s the cat-calling video, and Stacy McCain has his own take on that. Before that, there was the video titled “Potty-Mouthed Princesses” going around. — here is Althouse’s take on that video. I have no interest in embedding the videos here or linking to them. I think they’re both idiotic.

I had thought of doing a post as to why I’m not a feminist, but it’s better just to link to Stacy McCain’s Sex Trouble series. And if you go to my omnibus post on education, just go down to the bit on females in STEM stuff. You’ll know you’re there when you see MATH NEEDS CHICKS.

But here’s my essential take:

I got really pissed when I found that by the time feminism got to me, it was no longer about making sure individuals got a chance to pursue their own potential, but about making the numbers even in very particular endeavors. You know, fight for the woman garbage hauler who is getting unduly harassed, or the female firefighters who can pull their weight but must deal with misogyny — but don’t undermine these individuals by demanding quotas and lowering standards so that the quota can be met. In the same way I’m against unions (one of the many reasons being that weirdos like me always get screwed in a union – can’t escape that self-interest), I am extremely offended when substandard women are shoved into positions because it’s good PR.

Well, screw that. This weirdo can always join a different game if she wishes. Which I’ve done more than once.

So those are the words. But I’m really about the data.

And I’ve got lots of data.

You trust government stats, right? Well, they’re the best I have to go on for now.

The Census Bureau does not simply sleep for a decade between official decadal Census-takings. They have frequent surveys (and yes, I understand why people refuse to answer these surveys, but they are really helpful to industry, not just government) and compile all sorts of interesting stats other than simple population count. One such set of data are occupation and pay.

Rather than hit you with this in one post, I’m going to spread this over multiple posts.

Let me start out easy: science/tech/engineering/math (STEM) occupations.

This is one of the reasons, supposedly, women aren’t paid as much as men: women aren’t in these “high-paying” jobs. Well, we’ll see about that later.

Here is one of the Census reports on demographics of STEM occupations.

Let’s go to the graph:

Well, that looks like “progress” to me, to the extent women are going into the occupations they desire. Yes, I see that “computer workers” peaked and then came back down, and I’ve read a variety of reasons for that: bro-gramming culture, downfall of IBM, start-up dominance, etc.

Here’s a different thought, as one who can code but is not a “computer worker”: I can use my programming skills to do something a bit more lucrative than doing a tiny corner of software for someone else. I write my own code to do financial simulations. I write lots of articles on modeling best practices in Excel. But I am not a “computer worker”.

When did women’s share of “computer workers” decrease? Right when individuals could write code to do other useful things, especially as the web grew in the 90s.

But let’s go to a different graph, which shows women’s share of STEM occupations by age.

Hell, that looks like we’ve reached equilibrium point to me. For a while, women were blocked from these occupations, and ended up being high school math and science teachers in lieu of careers in using science and math.

Seems to me that that percentage is pretty level across ages – yes, there are some deviations, but I wouldn’t say it’s a lot. When you have the same percentage among 60-year-old workers as 30-year-olds, I’d say we’re at saturation point.

Yes, that saturation point is at about 30% of the workforce, but so what? That’s far from the most gender-skewed occupation category.

I will be looking at what is even more extreme in my next post.

But here is my point: like Stacy, I think the main point of those stupid videos is “Vote Democrat! We’re Desperate!” We get thrown these misleading stats on women v. men’s salaries, merely in the name of partisan politics. I don’t hear them say stuff like: women need to suck it up, work more hours, and pick higher-paying jobs.

All the whiners I’ve ever heard on this score tend to have picked paths that are lower-paying (say, by being academics) because they find it more attractive to do than jobs like mine.

Want more money? Become an actuary. Of course, we sit staring at computer screens for hours, and we have a brutal exam process to get through. We don’t have tenure, and can get laid off like anybody else in a merger.

I used to take the train from my town to Wall Street, catching the train before 6am. I would estimate that over 80% of the people on the Metro North Harlem Line at that hour are male. Men are working the long hours, more often than women. Men are going after money in a way that many women do not. I have found more men I know changing jobs just for a bump in pay, more often than women.

If you want to be paid more, that’s what you have to do.

Changing the laws are not going to change how much a part-time preschool aide gets paid compared to a commodities trader.

Your women’s studies degree ain’t gonna get you crap, sweetpea.

I know that’s not what you really want, anyway. You want the right to bitch in perpetuity that your choices aren’t as monetarily valuable in society as something that requires long hours and have lots of other unpleasant aspects.

Related Posts
Labor force participation rates, part 4: Old v. Young
Stat Crunching: Labor Force Participation Rate Trends, Prime Working Years
Labor force participation rates, part 2: Younger Years (under 25) - Bad news?