Saturday, October 8, 2022

Girlifying the Academy

American universities are being transformed. More and more faculty, especially in humanities and social sciences, are of the female persuasion. Even in STEM subjects, we see more women and fewer men. The same applies to administrations.

Now, Cory Clark and Bo Winegard attempt to show what we can now expect from a more girlified academy. One notes that public school education, both primary and secondary, are female domains. And that they are all doing a rather bad job. Their essay appears on Quillette.

I will not rehearse all of the data-- and the authors report a great deal-- but I will note that males and females tend to have markedly different priorities. And they have markedly different ways of approaching problems, even in defining what the problems are.

So, the essay addresses the issue of whether sex differences are innate or are culturally imposed. It concludes that there are innate sex differences and that once an organization becomes more girlified, certain innate qualities will prevail.

One notes this to counter an argument proposed by one Richard Reeves. One has already commented on the Reeves argument, such as it is. As it happens people are taking the book far more seriously than it deserves, but that is neither here nor there.

As you may recall Reeves suggests that we now need to direct men into more caring professions, like healthcare and food preparation. Apparently, this will solve the problem of out-of-work men, the kind who have been left behind as manufacturing and industry departed our soil. 

Of course, the debate wallows in absurdity. America has a masculinity crisis;, male values are systematically debased and degraded. Now, Reeves thinks that we can solve the problem by having men become home health workers. The stupidity rankles. 

We can count a number of reasons why manufacturing and industry has departed our shores, but one thing we must note is that in an increasingly girlified educational system boys are not being taught the mental habits and skills needed to do these jobs. 

One is thrilled to read the pollyannaish visions of onshored manufacturing-- most recently argued cogently by the highly estimable Rana Foroohar-- but we must note that we simply do not have the human personnel available to do the job. And we will not have it unless the educational system, primary and secondary and university varieties, set about teaching boys to think like boys.

Anyway, Clark and Winegard are suggesting that recent developments in university education can be explained by the fact that the academy is becoming more womanized.

The differences are clear, if not extremely stark. Men care about facts. Men care about empirical verification. Men care about rational proofs. Women care about caring. Women care about how people feel. Women also care, nowadays, about social justice, equity and inclusion. Women promote ideology over science. Men do just the opposite.

One suspects that the interest in equity derives from the fact that many women academics suspect that they owe their careers to diversity quotas, so they feel obliged to support them.  

They argue:

The overall theme of these differences is that men are more committed than women to the pursuit of truth as the raison d’ĂȘtre of science, while women are more committed to various moral goals, such as equity, inclusion, and the protection of vulnerable groups. Consequently, men are more tolerant of controversial and potentially offensive scientific findings being pursued, disseminated, and discussed, and women are more willing to obstruct or suppress science perceived to be potentially harmful or offensive. Put more simply, men are relatively more interested in advancing what is empirically correct, and women are relatively more interested in advancing what is morally desirable.

As it happens, women are more likely to want to suppress ideas and theories and facts that dispute their beliefs. They are more for the dogma and less for the facts:

But in general, men appear to be less concerned about the potential moral consequences of empirical information than women. So, when a scholar forwards a potentially true but also potentially offensive claim or set of data, women will be more likely to strive to suppress it than men.

Again, ask who is more open minded and the answer will be men:

However, on average, women are more willing to suppress science for moral reasons, and men are more willing to allow offensive or even potentially harmful ideas to be shared. As the population of academia shifts from one dominated by men to one that is more balanced or disproportionately female, support for including moral and harm concerns into the scientific and publishing process is likely to increase, and support for academic freedom is likely to decline.

As for the general theories of sex differences, the authors report:

Women evolved, as Anne Campbell memorably put it, to survive so they could nurture their vulnerable offspring. Thus, women are more likely to experience self-protective emotions such as anxiety and fear, to be more harm- and risk-averse, and to have more empathy and desire to protect the vulnerable. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to take risks and to endorse hierarchy and support for conflict.

So, during the past quarter century women’s priorities have largely taken over the academy. 

Nevertheless, some of the most drastic developments over the past 25 years share a common theme: They reflect the priorities of women. 

These changes reflect rising prioritization of egalitarianism (potentially at the expense of merit-based evaluations of science) and a desire to minimize potential harms and psychological distress (potentially at the expense of academic freedom). Both priorities are consistent with women’s evolved psychological preferences for egalitarianism and harm avoidance and stated higher prioritization of social justice and emotional wellbeing. In other words, these recent cultural trends in higher education are precisely what one would expect as women’s representation in academia grows.

One notes that women are more inclined to see education as a form of therapy. Men see it as a way to train minds to do jobs in the real world.


Anonymous said...

End all subsidy, funding and loans from the federal government to colleges and students. Problem solved.

370H55V I/me/mine said...

The military recruitment crisis is always explained away by too many young men below the physical requirements (obesity, etc.), having better options in the private sector, resistance to woke military training, etc.

But could it also be that they see a nation increasingly run by women in which men are explicitly excluded from power, and ask themselves why they should die to defend such a regime.

SgtBob said...

Any real historian should say: Ideals of the Hunter, versus those of the Cave Keeper.

JK Brown said...

The moves to suppress speech on campus will render universities backwaters in intellectual advancement. As well is should.

Here in 2 minutes from the offset(30:20) Jordan Peterson gets to the heart of why free speech is critical to learning how to discipline your intellect. And how university essays used to develop this ability in students. They no longer perform this function if students must censor themselves.

"Social justice is an actual impediment to acquiring human capital"
--Thomas Sowell

But all is not lost. Humanity was transformed by the Industrial Revolution. And while universities did come around to where the cash was, the industrial revolution came out of the workshops, not the universities. When the steam engine was developed Oxbridge was technophobic.

The danger is from the college-credentialed who are given sinecures in government and presume their edumedication gave them the tools to suppress the productive in society. But they are now panicking as the men with the real power, the power to do something useful, aren't showing up to do the bidding of the useless. A recent article "Revenge of the Material Economy" prompted by the averted railroad strike explored how those who build, move and repair things are coming to sense their political importance.

Walt said...

My theory fwiw: Women are themselves more (physically) vulnerable. Therefore, as they experience life, they develop alternative survival skills (tact, appeasement, empathy, passive aggression) and identify with the entire category of what they perceive as the vulnerable. That part is fine, even admirable to a point (babies, underdogs, kittens and puppies) though because on some level they inherently fear male (physical) power, some women feel more secure when they can either tame or destroy it. Look at the mothers who celebrate their sons “transitioning” into daughters.

Anonymous said...

Women (and I say this as one) are NOT more "caring" -- they are hostile and prone to attacking each other. They like very much to SEEM more "caring" -- and will climb all over each other to get closer to whomever is making the decision to prove that they are the most caring and most deserving of all!

They fool men into thinking they are caring because a lot of the reaction men get from them is based upon how women want to be seen....and again, women want to be SEEN as kind, loving, caring, compassionate, etc. But we on the inside know the truth -- and the truth is...

Well, give me a male boss -- and male co-workers, for that matter, anytime....and any truthful woman will tell you the same thing. (I got into teaching just in time for the last of the male administrators who came up from coaching, and it was wonderful -- they left you alone for the most part. As soon as a few years passed and it was all women principals, not to mention superintendents, no more discipline was allowed -- and the schools went to hell.)

Yes, I would say it has affected not just education but every field-- law, academia, journalism, medicine (all the sciences), sports, government, business, -- you name it.