Sunday, August 13, 2017

Quotas Over Quality?

Google was in the news last week for firing an employee who had posted a so-called "manifesto" on the company's intranet that took the company to task for its politically correct culture and the internal pressure to fill more positions in Google with women.

Of course, political correctness as defined by Google is inherently liberal and anti-conservative. Google also seems more interested in sentiments than in science based on the reaction to employee James Damore's views in his memo.

Damore titled his memo, "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" and his major point was that Google's liberal political bias has led to the belief that all disparities in representation in job positions at Google are due to oppression. It therefore follows at Google that quotas are necessary to correct the oppression. Units and teams are pressured to add women and other minorities to staff tech jobs and managers are held accountable to the quotas.

Google is feeling pressure on the issue because of its workforce demographics. Their only answer seems to be to create quotas for women and other minorities.

Men are 69% of the workforce. Women are only 31%. 56% are White, 35% are Asian and only 4% are Hispanic and 2% Black.

Damore didn't even dare to address ethnicity issues in his memo.

However, he did question whether the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women are partially due to biological causes and that these differences may partially explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech jobs and at Google.

Google's closed-minded, liberal bias seems to have been confirmed by the firing of Damore.

On the other hand, Damore's description of the scientific disparities in the biological and brain differences between men and women has been confirmed in several analyses of the memo by PhD's in sexual neuroscience that I have read.

For example, consider the comments about the memo from Debra Soh, who holds a PhD in sexual neuroscience from New York University in an op-ed in The Globe and Mail.

Despite how it’s been portrayed, the memo was fair and factually accurate. Scientific studies have confirmed sex differences in the brain that lead to differences in our interests and behaviour.
As mentioned in the memo, gendered interests are predicted by exposure to prenatal testosterone – higher levels are associated with a preference for mechanically interesting things and occupations in adulthood. Lower levels are associated with a preference for people-oriented activities and occupations. This is why STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields tend to be dominated by men.

It is ironic that on this issue the ones who say we should embrace science are denying science.

Some intentionally deny the science because they are afraid it will be used to justify keeping women out of STEM. But sexism isn’t the result of knowing facts; it’s the result of what people choose to do with them.
This is exactly what the mob of outrage should be mobilizing for, instead of denying biological reality and being content to spend a weekend doxxing a man so that he would lose his job. At this point, as foreshadowed in Mr. Damore’s manifesto, we should be more concerned about viewpoint diversity than diversity revolving around gender.

I have written in these pages before of the need to get more American students interested in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines.

Why are 35% of Google employees Asian? They are much more likely to major in the STEM subjects.

Only 1 in 6 American students are majoring in the STEM subjects. On the other hand, 1 in 3 foreign students in American universities are majoring in STEM.

Women only comprise 16% of engineering majors in our universities. What are they more likely to major in? Anthropology, Archeology, Art History, Communications, Philosophy. Of course, Gender Studies is also on that list as I wrote about recently.

 This is a problem I have been writing about since 2011 in these pages.
Since women have traditionally been less likely to select STEM studies this has also exacerbated the technical skills problem in higher education. More needs to be done to encourage girls in these fields...
Is Google willing to sacrifice quality for quotas?

Has that become the only answer in order to lift up the unrepresented?

Unfortunately, that seems to be the case all too often.

It is even be taken to surreal extremes in a school district in Virginia.

It recently sent a letter to parents stating that it was going to implement a new system by which advanced Honors and AP classes would not longer be determined solely on merit but by proportional representation. How is proportional representation defined in Winchester, Virginia?
40% White, 35% Hispanic, 12% African American, 10% Mixed Race.

I wonder what Asian Americans are supposed to do in Winchester?

Why is this being done at this school?  This is a direct quote from the letter.

Winchester Public Schools, like many division across the country, continue to see outcomes that are disproportionate by race and social class. American demographic trends indicate that America will be an majority minority nation in the next 25 years. Therefore, the new work of American public schools is to develop systems to address disparate outcomes.

I thought the system that was supposed to be in place in public schools was to educate. Challenge students and lift them up. That is the way you address disparate outcomes. Is that done by giving everyone an A or deciding that the most advanced classes are awarded based on race or color?

By the way, after this story made headlines due to a parent in Winchester sharing the letter, the Superintendent of Schools for Winchester, VA denied that there was any plan for ethnic or race quotas for enrollment in advanced courses.

However, here is the exact wording in the letter as reported by The Winchester Star. (go to the bottom for the sub-heading "Equity Work"). You be the judge of the school's words.

Through our collective work, advanced classes such as AP and Honors will have proportional representation. Proportional representation is 40% White, 35% Hispanic, 12% African American, 10% mixed race.

We live in a very strange time.

Quotas over quality?

How does anyone become great that way?

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