The Twitter user AntiFemComics (the “Fem” meaning “Feminism,” of course) has posted an interesting comic for us:
— Anti Feminist Comics (@AntiFemComics) April 30, 2015
Much ado is made by social justice warriors about the disparity between men and women enrolling and graduating in STEM (Science / Technology / Engineering / Math) programs. As others and I have pointed out in the past, however, there really is no “STEM” gap; it’s really just an engineering / technology gap.
This comic begs an interesting question: how much of women’s low enrollment is really due to personal choice? And if such is primarily the case, is it ethically wrong to propagate the theory that a culture of evil men is at the root of it all?
I’d like to first point out a misconception that even many men’s advocates have by stressing that very few people in general sign up for Gender Studies degrees. Degrees in “area, culture, ethnic, gender, and group studies” actually rank 27th out of all bachelor’s degrees conferred. And gender studies is actually one of five “disciplines” that occupy that 27th place, which means that if it were singled out it would be even lower.
See the thirty-two most conferred bachelor’s degrees here (click to enlarge):
On a side note, this is good news for us since course content in gender studies is often Feminist propaganda with an anti-male bent.
Let’s keep this in perspective and look at the big picture: women dominate in most academic programs, and of those areas that men are highly represented only a few degrees are awarded anyway. Technology doesn’t even make it into the ten most conferred degrees. To perhaps see this more impactfully, here’s a graph made by yours truly.
Note that women lead in eight out of the ten most commonly conferred degrees and are split with men on the leading degree (business), whereas men only dominate engineering.
Engineering and technology programs often grant affirmative action to women as an underrepresented group. Some might argue that affirmative action creates a catch-22 for women which would lead men to think that women who “succeed” in these fields only do so because they are artificially propped up, rather than making it on their own. And for some men and women that is definitely the case.
Feminists might object to this, but they have no moral authority to do so; it’s hard to convince people to grant you social equality while at the same time demanding privilege.
One of those “backfiring privilege” cases.
Is there some bias against women in engineering and technology? Possibly. I wouldn’t go so far as to say no bias against women exists. But is it the primary cause of women’s low enrollment in these fields? That is the primary question.
Unfortunately, much of the research on “STEM bias against women” has been shabby at best. Further complicating this, one might argue that women have been just as favored by gender bias in technology as they are disadvantaged by it.
Back in the 80s and 90s, being labeled a nerd was a social stigma. It’s the same with video games. While much grievance is manufactured by Feminists of the so-called “bias against women” in the video game community, this in reality is how women and girls have treated that community:
Women, moreso than men, are social creatures. If a given hobby or venture requires social isolation or stigma, women are much less likely to engage with it. The same thing holds true in the educational setting as well; the more an activity is “collaborative” rather than “competitive” the more women and girls tend to engage with it.
If you’re interested in technology and gaming, take a look at this video by Johnny Lee below. He figures out a way to use the Wii remote and sensor to create a virtual reality gaming experience.
This is what guys do: they tinker with stuff. And a lot of that requires a lot sitting alone in your room and going through trial and error. But for better and/or worse, sitting alone in your room tinkering with technology and gadgets is not what girls choose to do – unless it’s talking on the phone or being on Facebook. They are “using technology,” but technology is merely a means to facilitate socializing.
It’s one thing to make a claim that an institution with numerous ranks of gatekeepers is stopping women from exploring technology. But what is stopping a woman from tinkering with technology in a room by herself and posting her findings on YouTube?
Now that technology is a normalized part of our lives there is no longer a severe bias against people who are technologically innovative. Women who would scorn a man for saying “lol” fifteen years ago are now the ones who use such colloqualisms the most. Only now that men and boys have born the brunt of that social stigma do Feminists step up and demand “equality.”
And this is very typical of Feminists in almost any issue Feminists bring up. They want “equal” rewards of the system that men had a large part in building, but they don’t want equal risk or sacrifice.
They want the vote, but not the military draft that goes with it. They want the equal right to work, but they don’t want to meet the same hiring standards and instead demand affirmative action. They want to be sexually liberated, but don’t want to deal with the consequences of being sexually promiscuous, instead demanding that others to pay for their abortions and birth control (but I repeat myself), and so forth. They want woman to be empowered to make accusations of rape, but they don’t want false accusers to be held accountable.
If Feminists want to say that there is gender bias when it comes to technology, I wouldn’t object to that basic premise. So long as they acknowledge that such bias runs both ways and can take different forms, that women (as well as men) have been harmed by gender bias in technology just as they have been privileged by it, and both have an equal hand in creating that.
Ah, but they won’t. Why? Because Feminists they are Feminists, and without the narrative of a club of evil men victimizing powerless, innocent women Feminism would not be Feminism any longer. It would be something more like egalitarianism, which allows for greater nuance – not to mention understanding and compassion for men and boys.
Sometimes, being a woman demanding equality requires giving up the damsel act. It requires acknowledging that both women and men are responsible for the culture we live in, and that our institutions are little more than the formalization of that culture.
Also, it requires no longer manufacturing a cultural bias against men and boys by painting a one-sided caricature of a complex social phenomenon.