Friday, August 11, 2017

Sex Disparities, Left-Handedness, ASD, and the Workplace

Is it possible for men and women to have identical abilities and yet still show a difference in those abilities without there being some conspiracy of men to keep women down?

Consider a few facts.

Studies of math abilities between men and women showed no difference at all.

All psychological studies necessarily exclude anyone who is left-handed or who isn't neurotypical so as to ensure there is only a single factor at play.

Therefore, all studies of math skills in men and women only involve neurotypical right-handers.

However, although left-handers make up 10% of the population, about 12% of men are left-handed, while about 8% of women are. That means men are about 50% more likely to be left-handed than are women. Why does this matter? Well, 15% of the top math and language scores on the SAT were made by lefties. And about 20% of professional jobs are held by lefties.

Now, if we assume that skill distribution is equal between men and women lefties, we would still end up seeing a disparity. A small one, but a disparity nonetheless.

Next, let's consider the fact that 70% of coders are male and 30% are female. Let's also consider the fact that one of the major hotspots for children diagnosed with autism is Silicon Valley. These two facts are not unrelated. There is a very good chance that almost every computer programmer is somewhere on the spectrum, whether they have been diagnosed or not (I think there are many, many more on the spectrum than we realize--I'm on it and unless you know me like my brother and wife know me, and unless you understand Asperger's very well, you would never guess me to be diagnosed with Asperger's). With autism diagnoses being 20% female and 80% male, if even half the coders are on the spectrum, we've almost completely explained the disparity.

These are just two possible explanations for a massive disparity that neither claims women are inferior to men in any way nor demands a massive conspiracy of men trying to keep women out of coding and other fields.

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