Pretty Dumb for a Guy

One thing law school taught me, inter alia, was to use hifalutin latin terms when you could just as easily say “among other things” in English.

Another thing (and perhaps this isn’t as much law school as adulthood and cynicism in general) was to read critically and between the lines.

For instance, there was a small blurb of an article in this morning’s New York Post. What struck me as bogus, as generally does when these “studies” are reported, was the conclusion of the scientists. See, I generally respect these scientists abilities to conduct experiments and come up with some form of data. What I don’t like is when they overstep their bounds to try to come up with some sort of explanation for the data, or worse, use the date to explain random social phenomena (see related). In today’s piece, it’s this:

“One of the researchers, John Philippe Rushton – who created a furor by suggesting intelligence is influenced by race – says the finding could explain why there are so few top women executives.”

Assuming for a second that the study is right (and I’m not saying I think it is, but just for the sake of argument, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt), what sort of ridiculous conclusion is that to make? Let’s lay it bare for a second. Let’s take the Fortune 1000. Each of the top 1000 companies in the world has one CEO and let’s assume, 4 other top executives (CFO, COO, CIO, C-Whatever-O, doesn’t matter). That’s means there are approximately 5000 positions to fill that we can call “Top Executives.” What this study does NOT say is that all men are smarter than women. It says, on average, men appear smarter based on SAT scores (itself not a fantastic metric of intelligence…a HUGE flaw in the study, imho). Does that mean that you can’t find 5000 (2500, in the interest of balance and equality) women who are just as smart or smarter than men in the same position? Of course not!

Let me elaborate: (again, assuming any validity to this crap) supponlessay, you own a bank (that’s for you, Moishe). You are looking to hire a CEO. You get ten resumes, five women and five men. On average, the men will be smarter. However, the smartest woman could be (and likely might be) as smart or smarter than the smartest man. If you were looking to hire the highest IQ (which would be a bad hiring decision, as there are many other factors involved).

Because we are talking at the “Top Executive” level, a statistically tiny portion of the overall populaiton, the general “average” results don’t apply. So will you might expect a small bump for men, it doesn’t explain the vast under-representation of women at that level.

It’s statements of conclusion like that one that lead me to believe that this study is nothing but sexism dressed up in scientific clothing. Which is to say, BS.

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2 responses to “Pretty Dumb for a Guy

  1. I always assumed there were more men than women in top executive positions because there are more men in the applicant pool. Namely, to get to the point where you are applying to (or are considered for) an executive position, you have had a significant career behind you. Statistically, men are more likely than women to devote their lives to their career. While women are as able as men to climb the corporate ladder, women are more likely to choose not to. And so by the time you reach the CEO’s level, you’re choosing between (for argument’s sake) five male candidates and one female candidate. Given that all candidates at that point will be roughly equal, that gives the female candidate only a 1/6th chance of being selected.

  2. Adam,

    That’s fine. But take a look at the article, specifically this quote:

    He claims in the journal Intelligence that the “glass ceiling” is probably due to inferior intelligence – not discrimination or lack of opportunity.

    Isn’t what you said exactly contrary, that’s it not a lack of intelligence but rather a lack of opportunity (fair, or otherwise, I make no judgments about the relative merits of your point)?

    This guy’s point is dubious. While you may argue that there are less women in the applicant pool because there are less women who meet the intelligence criteria (and if I read your comment correctly, you don’t argue that, and the point of my post is to counter that argument, anyway) this guy is saying that women just aren’t intelligent enough to be CEO’s, which aside from being offensive, is patently ridiculous.

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