photos by Lara Shipley
Kerry Howley on the senatorial semiotics of fuck-me boots.
Tags: Sexual Politics
// Aug 15, 2007 at 10:58 am
Interesting article, but I’d quibble with part of it. (And there doesn’t seem to be a comments section there, so…) Howley points out that women continue to get evaluated poorly in known-sex evaluations compared to blind evaluations, which is completely true AFAIK. But then she goes on to write “[Women] respond by flocking to careers where competence is most directly signaled, like those in medicine and law.” That seems to be thinking like an economist (which is mostly a compliment in my book) but taking the facts selectively (which is not so much).
From memory, the NYT front page article (earlier this year?) on how women are kicking men’s academic butts listed as remaining “male-dominated fields” areas like engineering, math, and hard sciences. It seems to be uncontroversially true that women do not flock to those fields. My disrespectful impression when I read the NYT article was that “male-dominated” would be a better name for fields like sports history. Fields like engineering are, IMHO, more nearly “coal mine canary” fields. That is, those careers are extremes on the scale of how competence is most directly recognized and rewarded, and not so coincidentally, are fields where you tend to see particularly early that a currently-underestimated group is taking names and kicking butt. Law and especially medicine are fields where a good fraction of someone’s value is in having been granted a place at an officially licensed institution and having qualified for an official license. That is of course related to competence, but it is not necessarily the same.
As a thought experiment, if 43% of the population were metrosexual immigrant Thragarnians with unusually narrow fingernails, and they faced widespread prejudice which misestimated their competence by 40% or so, how would a casual observer see that falsified? In engineering, even if prejudice against the Thragarnians starting their own engineering companies was effective at strangling their funding and sales efforts and so forth, and even if no social scientists were struggling to estimate the misestimate, I think it’d be embarrassing to bigots when Thragarnians kept winning the wrong share of engineering and programming contests, solving the wrong share of longstanding important theoretical problems, and so forth. In medicine and law, would there be similar spontaneous embarrassments?
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