From Mars, From Venus

A Google employee was fired yesterday amid outrage over his controversial statement about the differences between men and women in the tech field. The news summary highlighted the comment about ‘biological differences’ being the cause, the reason for the lack of women in STEM related fields. His comment also, carefully claimed that the comment was not meant to upset the cause for diversity in the workplace. Only that there are biological differences that give reasons for the discrepancies in the real-world demographics as related to tech industries.

The public is outraged and in debate!

Both men and women affirming that there are differences between males and females. Concerning the greater physical strength of a male compared to that of a woman. This much is true, however, what does physical strength have to do with using acquired knowledge of mathematics and software engineering-that requires years of study and brain power? As well,  both cited that males and females have differing interest because one thinks more deeply than the other. To the surprise of other commenters, a woman had stated that men think more deeply than women, since women are able to not think as much. Why, she said? Women are better able to multi-task whereas men need to concentrate more so on a single task before moving onto the next. There was an episode somewhere on popular television afternoon shows that attempted to prove this assumption: women are better able to multitask than men. However, are they better able to multitask because they are women or are they better able due to practice? The examples given on the popular television afternoon shows are housewives versus their husbands. More importantly, concerning the tech field in this case, does software engineering require a great deal of multi-tasking? If not, why is this mundane detail included in the attempt to confirm biological differences as the reason for the lack of diversity in the tech field?

Others liken ‘race’ as being the same ordeal with sex concerning the discrepancies in demographics of an occupation. There were a few that stated that black men are more dominate in football and basketball because of genetics. In reference to professional sports yes there is a dominate commonality in both basketball and football. However, does the commenter recognize that perhaps exposure to those sports in particular-or one’s environment in celebrating those two major sports more so than others-has something to do with the common interest? If simply genetics were the cause for black males being so great athletically, then why only those two major sports? Were black men specifically bred for those sports or are they only great due to exposure within their background since childhood? So on and so forth questioning why is biological differences claimed as a justification for the lack of diversity or the cause of a predominance of one demographic over another in a particular occupation?

Simply put, some people are not great in making arguments that are void of logic and contemporary empirical evidence.

Within the debate, women who happened to be software engineers, mathematicians of some kind or simply have an interest in STEM related fields chimed in. They took to their keyboards to comment on the anecdotal evidence of a few women internalizing sexism. Others took to list their qualifications to speak on the behalf of all women in STEM. Though, more importantly, they voiced themselves as women, the rarity, in STEM related fields. Their concern was addressed by others that disagreed with those ‘not great in making arguments’ as well. There are no biological differences between men and women that causes fewer women to pursue STEM related fields. However, what has been proven through empirical research is that there are sociological differences that causes more men to pursue STEM related fields, while discouraging women.

What is meant by sociological differences?

This simply means that how males and females, boys and girls, are raised in a society determines the outcomes of their interest. As well, this greatly depends on the environment, resources and anything else related that determines the interest(s) held within a society. And by society is referring to you and me, we are the people that determines the behaviors, the norms, the culture, the activities and other aspects and concerns within a society. This is all relative to the period in which we are referring to, and the history of the people that is being referred.

For example, at one period nursing was a male dominated field. Contrasted tot today, nursing is female dominated and often contributed to biological differences as being the cause of this discrepancy in demographics. I just made a point here. Today, biological differences are attributed to the cause of women being more predominate in nursing occupation, however, in centuries past men were predominate in nursing [or something similar in name]. What was the reason given then compared to today to excuse the lack of one gender? I’m regarding to a period in which “biological differences” meant women were so inferior to men that their place was not meant in places determined by men to be more of a masculine pursuit than others.

I may go further back in time. Agriculture, farming was once considered a female endeavor, while the men hunt. Though as the technology became more advanced and farming more complex, men assumed the role of being the farmer, while abandoning the hunter/gather lifestyle. This is true concerning the number of female teachers as compared to male teachers today. At one period men were the teachers, and boys were the students. Overtime, as centuries of activism called for the equal access to education systems and resources, we now see that there are more female teachers and more female students-the higher one may pursue in education.

The point here being that in each example given about nursing, agriculture and teaching was never about actual differences in biology- that made one sex more suited for an occupation. Instead this sentence here restates the topic:

“I’m referring to a period in which ‘biological differences’ meant women were so inferior to men that their place was not meant in places determined by men to be more of a masculine pursuit than others.”

That sentence is referring to the changes in social norms and the assumption of a task as determined by a man. As similarly compared to date, a change in social norms and the assumption of a task as determined by you and me. We determine whether girls are more likely to choose social work over astronomy. We determine whether boys are to become a doctor, rather than a nurse. We determine that STEM related fields are to be dominated by men because of the assumption that math and other related fields is best suited for males based, again, on a social norm or prejudice.

It’s the individual’s interest, but environment and society are major factors too.

Others within the debate will say that perhaps there is a difference not due to biology per se, though due to an individual’s personal interest. In that they state women are less likely to pursue STEM related fields as it requires [empirical] logical derivations, where men are less inclined towards socially inclined work. And by that they meant most girls simply like the color pink, whereas most boys like the color blue. Here I ask, how does one know of their interest if they have yet to have been exposed within their environment of varied interest? Here I state, we are inclined towards certain behaviors and interest still due to our nurture, rather than nature. For instance, how does a boy like most boys know that they like the color blue if they have never seen it? As relating to occupation, how does a girl know she prefers math if she is constantly encouraged to seek socially inclined task deemed more feminine? He does not know that he likes the color blue until exposed. As she does not know her preference since she is discouraged from one pursuit.

The greater question here: how are we to determine what boys and girls are more inclined to like or dislike, to pursue or to not pursue, when we do not raise them under equal terms?

The most important initiative of our time is equal access and equal terms. We are largely unaware of what an individual may like or dislike, without influences by society. We are not knowing what boys and girls would pursue if given the chance to become exposed to varied interest and pursuits equally. However, we do know that our interest and pursuits are heavily influenced by society and by exposure. What are the initiatives again? To reveal more women in the roles of STEM. Or to encourage programs that focuses on girls wanting to pursue STEM related fields as adults. In our time we are introducing them to an occupation.

That is all that is required to witness an increase in a demographic within a particular field. It’s not a simple matter of disinterest of the individual as, again, our interest are determined by societal prejudices and what we may be exposed to within our environments. It’s not even a matter of biology, as there is not a single DNA sequence that determines what we have determined and created within our society.