We have not done it well
Sauce for the goose; sauce for the gander. If women want to invade male domains, then they cannot complain when men (dressed as women) invade theirs. I note the clamour about sex discrimination in traditionally male dominated work areas - such as engineering, business management, science, and an enthusiasm for affirmative action to increase female participation in these areas, but a tangible silence for more women working on bin lorries, scouring out the sewers or diving off North Sea oil rigs to inspect the supports. The men can keep their dirty, low paid and/or hazardous jobs, it’s just the high status, well paid jobs where nice ladies won’t get their nail varnish chipped that qualify for balance in the workplace. Pass the humbugs mother.
The feminization of healthcare will soon reach a tipping point (more female doctors than male doctors, and more female physician administrators). Enormous changes are already underway to reshape healthcare institutions around women caregivers' emotional needs. If you thought the rivalry between the largely male physician cohort and the largely female nursing cohort was fierce, wait until both nurses and doctors and administrators are mostly women. It's going to get intense.
First, some comments with regards to your recommendation for men to lose the 'singles-bar mindset' and the 'locker-room language.' On the first point, you write as if women don't have any agency here. As they say, it takes two to tango. If young women regret hookups, they should decide for themselves to refrain from such conduct (and the sex ratio is no excuse). On the second point, you write as if women keep their thoughts about men's bodies to themselves. Not true, though arguably they are more discrete. I assume you are trying to bend over backwards to be even-handed here, but it probably isn't worth the effort.
As I have noted before on this topic, the problems highlighted in your essay (and Warby's analysis) are not the inevitable result of women's participation in formerly male-dominated institutions. In the Soviet-type economies, women were to a great extent drawn into the labor force much earlier than their Western counterparts (possibly as a systemic feature of shortage economies), and this carried through into the post-socialist transition to market economies, but my impression (based on my experience in the 1990s) is that Russian women assimilated into the dominant male culture, rather than the other way around. The promotion of Russian women to high levels is arguably more merit-based compared to their Western counterparts (for example, compare the head of Russia's central bank with, say, Janet Yellen, or the former head of the IMF and now the ECB). I could be mistaken about this difference, of course, but assuming for the sake of argument that there is a difference, the question is why. One rebuttal might be that Russia remains essentially sexist, and men still dominate the upper echelons of economic and political institutions, with women playing a vital supporting role. But it could also be the result of a cultural difference independent of the problem of sexism. As far as I know, Russia women dominate in elementary education, as they do here in the US, but Russian elementary education, and the culture surrounding the raising of children more generally, remains oriented towards achievement (and discipline), and still dispenses differential rewards based on merit and competence.
There are two habits in female bosses that I take issue with.
1) An over willingness to take on meaningless or unnecessary work because someone asked for it (or even hinted at it).
2) A reluctance to say no to someone when they are wrong, especially a superior.
Woman talk a lot about work/life balance, but everywhere I see them taking on burdens that they don't need to take on and that don't really do the company much good (which often splashes over to their co-workers and subordinates). I think this "bring your whole self to work" thing resonates a lot more with them, whereas I want to generate as much value as quickly as possible so I can get back to my real life. The concept of people at work being a second family is alien to me.
There is a generational aspect here as well. I remember reading a paper years ago about group integration. When numbers of outgroup entrants were below about 20%, new entrants assimilated to the existing norms. Above that, the outgroup constituency is large enough to start demanding and enacting changes to group norms. Working in a historically male field (which now is at parity), the work culture divide between older and very young women seems larger than the work culture values of the young men and young women.
Thank you once again for thoughtfully interacting with my essays. And yes, some level of mutual accomodation is going to be required.
I'm afraid nature has sent down its own verdict on feminism, and does not support it, however morally superior we believe it to be to give women lots of career options other than child-rearing. The result of feminism in the west is that other demographics, mostly outside the west but wanting in, which don't practice feminism are out-breeding us badly, and it's probably too late to stop them from replacing us. At which point the whole subject is moot.
An otherwise fine assessment of institutional dynamics as their gender composition shifts that’s brought down by false dichotomies and hand-ringing. The characterization of cancellation is spot on, though.
This belief that “competence” somehow trades off with “safety” and that these both map onto gender has to go. What evidence is there that anything of the “feminine” results in lower productivity? Firms are more profitable than ever, and we’re enjoying a time of unprecedented technological advancement, largely due to the work of very smart, gender-diverse teams.
Cultural “feminization” might matter to the Twitter commentariat, who measure their lives in likes and engagement with strangers, but those of us who hire professionals and work with professionals know that an ambitious young graduate from a top school want opportunity, mentorship and influence just as much as we did at their age— regardless of gender.
By the way, a panel survey of 20 year-olds at university does not a broad trend make. We all mature How many of the opinions you held as an undergraduate do you hold today?
I would levy the following criticism of institutions at institutions and not individual people: Institutions are largely unequipped for (and often not trying to prevent) the kinds of things that women do more commonly than men that might upend a workplace, or at least cause some friction.
Consider "what gets reported to HR?" This question should catch the intersection of "What is blatantly unprofessional in the workplace", "What do employees think the company will attempt to prevent" and "What are other coworkers (in this case men) reasonably expected to handle on their own?"
For instance - woman making unwanted sexual advances on man at work. Is this getting reported to HR? At a certain threshold, absolutely, I'd imagine it would. But the threshold is probably unequal between cases. There are obvious reasons of physical strength that this makes sense, but there are other reasons as well.
Perhaps more common is "criticism by empathy", specifically on personal issues outside of work. I've felt personally victimized by Regina George, etc. etc. It's funny as a joke, even HR might laugh! But it sucks in real life. At this point I would like to remind readers this is NOT all women, that men can do this too, etc. etc.
The standard responses in this case are something along the lines of "What are you, some kind of bitch who needs HR to step in for you?" and "It is a shame that men don't feel comfortable stepping forward and talking to HR to prevent this from happening." My point is that, in my cherry-picked case, there is a company-wide push for coworkers to police one another with support of the firm, for the good of a productive work environment, and this push obviously does not apply in various "grey areas" that are obviously not grey in the letter of the law.
I am highly sympathetic to arguments for individual agency, and that calling HR for every quotidian faux pas is bad for you. On the other hand, I would point out that HR departments are roughly two-thirds women according to a Google search, and many of the same things that are supposedly discouraging from women speaking out, likely also work against men. Corporate culture of "keep your head down and get work done" could cut both ways.
Perhaps the fact of the matter is that, with women in a greater percentage of university spots, jobs in management, and involvement in a variety of previously male-dominated fields, we are just witnessing the new culture, in which both the virtues and vices of more people are added to an increasingly diverse culture. Perhaps the gender theorists simply need to do the snarky economist thing, and hire more men in their HR departments and capture the profits lost to discrimination. I seem to recall the thermostat in the office being a gendered "twitter topic" for a while, maybe the men are just losing the vote these days.
However, I end up finding myself in a very stereotypically male conclusion when I think about this. I end up thinking "Well, we are going to have relish this difficulty, embrace being the underdogs, and over-perform anyway. The stories will be fun later. If it gets too bad, I will need a new job that's better suited to me." Most of the female empowerment literature seems to say the same, and it seems to be working...
ESG as the feminization of investing?
Thank you another well thought summary!
We are a cognitively dimorphic species. In terms of the 15 personality traits* that aggregate into the Big Five personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism), 70 per cent of each sex has a specific pattern of personality traits that no member of the other sex has. This is because the distribution of various traits tend to have different median points in each sex, with the male distributions being “flatter” (meaning longer “tails”). You only have to have one trait that is outside the distribution of the other sex to be cognitively distinct.
Aggregating that together (because each sex has all the congruence but only half the non-congruence), over 80 per cent of us has a specific pattern of personality traits that does not occur in the other sex.
This is an extreme claim that isn't backed up by any evidence. I'm baffled why you would just accept it as a given. In reality, mean scores for men and women across various personality measures are at most half a standard deviation apart. I'm not even sure what it could mean to "fall outside the distribution" of a gender -- for both genders there are going to be rare individuals with a max or min score on any measure.
Very interesting. Thank you for posting.
Re: “feminisation can be a marker for the corrosion of institutions and consequent social decay.”
If we want to make institutions great again, we need to understand what a set of ideal institutions, particularly in governance, would be like. After all institutions have changed during different periods, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. In universities, for example, the appropriate ideal was perhaps best described by Wilhelm von Humboldt:
“There are undeniably certain kinds of knowledge that must be of a general nature and, more importantly, a certain cultivation of the mind and character that nobody can afford to be without. People obviously cannot be good craftworkers, merchants, soldiers or businessmen unless, regardless of their occupation, they are good, upstanding and – according to their condition – well-informed human beings and citizens. If this basis is laid through schooling, vocational skills are easily acquired later on, and a person is always free to move from one occupation to another, as so often happens in life.”
Per wikipedia: “Humboldt's model was based on two ideas of the Enlightenment: the individual and the world citizen. Humboldt believed that the university (and education in general, as in the Prussian education system) should enable students to become autonomous individuals and world citizens by developing their own reasoning powers in an environment of academic freedom. Humboldt envisaged an ideal of Bildung, education in a broad sense, which aimed not merely to provide professional skills through schooling along a fixed path but rather to allow students to build individual character by choosing their own way” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humboldtian_model_of_higher_education )
Our modern effeminate universities, as we all know, operate in a manner 180 degrees opposite, with the inculcation of state approved dogma and conformism being the primary mission of universities today.
Similarly, Aristotle offered an ideal for governance: “the good life is the end of the city-state.” To achieve the good life for its citizens a city-state must be ruled on the principal of “reciprocal equality” for which must “persons are free and equal.” “All cannot rule at the same time, but each rules for a year or according to some other arrangement or period of time. In this way, then, it results that all rule…” This of course is anathema to our effeminate establishment, the right wing of which holds as self-evident dogma that the mass of people cannot attain virtue and are beneath the concern of the best people who are wealthy and whose goals ought define policy as well as the left wing which holds that history privileges formerly oppressed groups and their welfare overrides any consideration of achieving the good life for all: the former oppressor groups must be belittled and subjugated.
For the “good life” populist, Aristotle’s treatment of women as citizens is particularly important. “Aristotle gave equal weight to women's happiness as he did to men's, commenting in his Rhetoric that a society cannot be happy unless women are happy” as understood in his Rhetoric. And too we must denounce his countenancing of slavery. “Reciprocal equality” of citizens in governance is not consistent with chauvinism and bigotry. And to a large extent this is the case. The example of Margaret Thatcher, widely denounced as a populist, (https://repository.essex.ac.uk/18211/ ) enjoyed enormous popular support precisely because her policies were understood to be good for all across the board, as indeed they were, rather than devoted to the establishment’s policies founded in the zero sum game of reifying the supremacy of favored self-serving identitarian groups. Given the Thatcher example, one wonders if it really is the male-female difference that degrades institutions or whether such differences are merely another establishment red herring to distract attention from its plundering of the economy and promotion of its own self-serving interests.
Goodness changing from what to what? As a woman in university leadership I don't understand the stereotype I seem to belong to!
"sit on their emotions" and "masculine wisdom"
I can't think of any basis for saying emotion is worse than not or that masculine wisdom is better than feminine. I'm even more skeptical that Warby or anyone else can offer something akin to proof of that.
"So, yes, feminisation can be a marker for the corrosion of institutions and consequent social decay."
Sure, that can happen. But women tend to have better social skills so it is probably more likely feminisation will improve society. It certainly has some likelihood of decreasing physical violence.
"The older culture was oriented toward achievement. The newer culture is oriented toward safety. "
An increased focus on safety comes in part from an increase in wealth and living standards. One can't worry much about safety if they don't have food, water, and shelter. That doesn't mean it can't also be due to an increased influence of women but that's not what I'd bet is the biggest factor.