As per grades, first at school and now at the universities as well, women are increasingly outperforming men. To some that fact, allegedly coming after millennia of subjugation and oppression, is a blessing. Others see it as a danger-sign that points to the feminization of society which, on pain of losing the competition with other, more virile, nations must be avoided at all cost. But is the claim true? Fifty-two years after Betty Friedan first raised the standard of revolt, only about 5 percent of heads of state are female; out of Forbes’ ten best-paid American business executives, not a single one is. Further down the list, the situation is hardly any different. The gap in earnings remains almost as large as it was in ancient Rome where, everything else being equal, female slaves were valued at about two thirds of male ones. Similar facts could be cited almost indefinitely. They show that, now as ever, the higher on the greasy pole one climbs the fewer women one encounters. By one calculation, should present trends continue, it will take another 150 years for the gap in earnings to close. If, which I personally doubt very much, it ever does.Van Creveld has one of the most formidable historical minds on the planet, and it's unusual to see him take on a relatively light topic like this one, so you'll definitely want to read the whole thing.
How to explain these facts? The standard interpretation, put forward by countless feminists the world over, is discrimination. This idea has the advantage that it enables women to occupy the high moral ground. Often it also enables them to harass and even bully men in- and out of court; few things are harder to refute, and more likely to damage a man’s career, than being accused of discriminating against a female employee.
The difficulty with this argument is that, in every developed country, women now form a majority of the population. Their share in the workforce is also very close to that of men. How, in a democracy, a majority can discriminate against a minority is easy to see; parts of the US Constitution were expressly designed to prevent just that. But the opposite is not true. This fact makes the explanation appear unlikely. Unless—and as we shall see in a moment, there are some reasons to think so—a number of those who do the discriminating are themselves women.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Who discriminates against women?
Military historian and author of Equality: The Impossible Project, Martin van Creveld, considers where all this discrimination against women is coming from: