Where do we find, and how do we evaluate, gender-based statistics? Can privilege be defined by data?

Tonight I was thinking about painting the ceiling, but decided to check A|N instead.

One of the dominant topics on A|N regards gender and, more specifically, issues of representation of women on A|N, and on male priviledge. For example, one of The Nerd's posts on the topic has had 29 pages of response, as of this posting - something like 350 responses (When I checked the view did not include a response counter).

I confess at the outset that I have not read every post, and I have not read every comment. There may be a data-based discussion, I don't know. But I did not see one. If the linked sources have been posted, please pardon me, and link (if you so desire) to them so that I (and others) can sort the wheat from the chaff.

I did see the following article, in Huff Post: here, with the title "What's Happening To Women's Happiness? It's written by a male author (Marcus Buckingham), on a website that is owned by a woman (Arianna Huffington), generally regarded as liberal (I think). I state these to get some of the ad hominems out of the way, while acknowledging impression of bias.

My interest was in the data, more than in the author's further analysis. Extracting some of his numbers:

During the 2008 school year, 59% of all BS degrees and 61% of all MS degrees were be earned by women.

In 2009, 4 out of the 8 Ivy League universities--Harvard, Brown, Penn and Princeton, have female presidents.

October 2009, is the first month in which women outnumber men in the workforce.

Women hold more management and supervisory positions than men, by a margin of 37% to 31%

In like-for-like work women and men with the same amount of work experience earn the same.

Women's pay is increasing faster than men's.

The author also comments that women are running the governments of some countries, mentioning Germany, Ireland, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Chile, Mozambique, and Jamaica - although that's not really many. In the past, we can also include UK, India, Sri Lanka, Argentina, and you can probably add to the list.

It's nothing new that men die faster than women - this is true in every state of the US - data here. more here - 2004 data with the following information: "The greatest increase was experienced by black males with an increase of 0.6 year (from 68.9 to 69.5). Life expectancy increased by 0.4 year for black females (from 75.9 to 76.3), for white females (from 80.4 to 80.8), and for white males (from 75.3 to 75.7)."

OK. What am I doing here. First, what am I not doing: I am not making any claim denying male priviledge, Im not discounting any individual experience or anecdote, and I am not making a claim that there is equality. I also realize that the majority of the information here is US oriented, and there are truly horrible things going on in many countries.

What I am doing is asking how we can discuss issues of gender fairness, priviledge, and opportunity? As someone who is data-oriented, and who does not trust politics or ideology, I am stuck with a need for numbers. Are the numbers above accurate? I don't know. I don't have the primary sources. Are they current? They appear to be. Is there bias in choosing what numbers to look at? Maybe, again I don't know. Are there other sources of data? If so, it would be helpful to see them.

Given these numbers, are we able to come up with a data-oriented definition of equality? If not, how do we know when we get there?

I'm interested in rational discussion. The Nerd has posted some rules in her discussions, and I hope that similar rules can be honored here, including no ad hominems, try to stick to data, unless new ideological or semantic concepts come up that have hot been covered elsewhere are relevant - in some cases, a separate discussion might be useful, since a 350-comment discussion becomes unreadable.

Tags: feminism, gender equality, priviledge

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As remarkable as the USA having a black president.

Maybe it's just me, but when I hear 'Obama', I think 'multiracial' (or 'mulatto') instead of 'black'. How much 'white' heritage does one need to not be 'black'?
One swallow does not a summer make. (Or even 4 :-)

Maybe 5 is the magical number? I remember that not long ago, the top 5 spots in New-Zealand were held by women - Elizabeth II (Head of State), Susan Clark (Prime Minister), Silvia Cartwright (Governor-General), Sian Elias (Chief Justice), and Margaret Wilson (Speaker of the House of Representatives).

And btw, I can certainly swallow a summer cake ;-)
Edit: Helen Clark, not Susan
Adriana,

The violence & safety issues do add another nuance / insight. I also wondered about the "like-for-like" pay issue. It's frustrating not to be able to review the raw data and context.

One tomato DOES as summer make, if from one's own vine.
I think The Nerd posted some of those numbers, also regarding the number of women that are murdered, hurt, or raped, by men every year (while the numbers for the opposite side of the equation are vanishingly small). To feel safe is part of privilege.

I don't know if it's fair to discount violence against men that's perpetrated by other men. I should be able dig up the numbers if people really think it's necessary, but most violence, I believe, is still perpetrated against other men - and that's not counting a decent amount of abuse that men are subject to since it's considered masculine or just plain normal. Men may certainly not perceive women as a regular threat, and it's certainly a real issue that women are so much more vulnerable than men, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that men are "safe".
Nerd,
THis is really helpful and the link is dense with content. I read part of it and intend to read more later. It needs to be taken in smaller bites. It is helful to read the graphs and statistics. It does support the inequality argument, rather than the equality argument offerred in HuffPost.

Jason also commented on the family care aspects. This would seem to be a big aspect - given that we are either sociologically or biologically or both continuing to have the major childcare roles for women.

I commented in another part of this discussion, that maybe (anecdotally) in families where a grandmother takes on the role of rearing young children, the mom has more freedom to progress in her job. One woman I know strongly criticised American families for NOT doing this, stating that her mother came to the US from China to take care of her children, and none of her American relatives did that. Now she's helping care for her mother who is declining, and again her American relatives don't do that either. In the US, land of the rugged individual, the role of the family is less, and the expectation of government and employer is more. In a sense, the 'deal' seems to be 'I take care of your kids for a while, and you take care of me when Im old". Again, purely anecdotal, so I will slap my own wrist for saying it.

The fly in the ointment here is, in a capitalistic society, where productivity theoretically (not always) is a big factor in pay, how is childrearing factored in?

(I wouldn't say that Iran is a good example of supporting women, even if they do give 90 days. They may well want to give permanent leave....)
It isn't that being fair skinned (white) does not result in some advantages in our culture. It does. The problem is when someone labels persons with that trait as being "privileged." The entire enterprise of doing so is wrong. Consider the first sentence of your quote by Blumenfled:

Many forms of oppression (and dominant group privilege), however, are not as apparent, especially to members of dominant groups.

There are three highly evaluative, dare I say, damning terms used there. "oppression, dominance, privilege" That isn't by accident. It is the application of a political groups analysis which is built upon the perspectives of waring groups. Everything is viewed as if people are locked into waring tribes, even where it makes no sense, as with the sexes. The way of thinking that results in that sort of judgmental political analysis of social groups is a rampant cognitive bias in humans. It isn't really much different that the discrimination they think they're fighting. That we get sucked into this error is sad. People get so convinced of that dogma that they can't see other ways of thinking about humans or social processes. When someone disagrees they make condescending comments like the one above, that you don't agree with a political groups analysis because you're (sic) privileged.
I would like to comment on the numbers, Adriana but a) you and Daniel are doing a pretty good job of it and b) I have a spreadsheet of power plant operations data that is using up all of my number-think right now. I hope to look at the detail tables this evening.
Adriana,
You do take the prize.
OK, will check in later. I actually have to get back to work. Behave everyone! Thanks for the participation so far!
Not sure what this means:

"Women hold more management and supervisory positions than men, by a margin of 37% to 31%."

Are the remaining 32% of management and supervisory positions held by children? Robots?

Since advantages accruing to race or gender are so subtle and amount to varying levels of opportunity, I'm not sure it's really possible to tot them up satisfactorily. We'll probably have to be satisfied using percentages in the population compared to percentages in specific job categories as a proxy. It should more or less work for race and sexual orientation, but biological differences between males and females will always be there and will likely account for some amount of variance, particularly in certain jobs, and probably overall with respect to pregnancy. I doubt it will ever be possible to precisely compensate for career income disparities due to pregnancy, childbirth, and child-care discrepancies during infancy. Actuarial science could get you close to averages, but individual decisions around these issues will always lead to variance. In any case, we can't and shouldn't aim for equal outcomes, just equal opportunities with an equitable floor underneath.
Hmm, that's a heckuva rounding error. And if that does mean the margin of error spread, the statistic is saying that management and supervisory positions are held by 31% to 37% more women than men? That seems unlikely. That would mean that two-thirds of management and supervisors are women. I think those numbers aren't stated correctly.

I think we basically agree on the second part. We should aim for equality. If we don't precisely hit it, well, nothing's perfect. The important thing is that we're heading in the right direction.

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