Tuesday, January 20, 2015

(#111-1) January 20 2015. Why don’t women rule the world? Perhaps they already do.



NOW THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THAT OPINION (re the smarts—it says nothing about their choices of men)

Perhaps because I grew up surrounded by strong women (the good, the bad, and the terrifying)—except when I was in boarding school—I have never been biased towards my own sex. In fact, I have never understood sexual bias—except where actual sex is concerned. Then. I will freely admit that women are my mates of choice. I have rarely been disappointed (in the sex).

If the world ever runs out of women—or I’m marooned on a desert island with only men and camels for company, who knows! I have always rather liked camels.

When I was in business BW (Before Writing) I worked under both men and women and didn’t have any particular preferences. Frankly, good managers of either sex are comparatively rare. My best boss, mentor, and friend, Art Damschen, as it happens was a man—but nobody is perfect.

Sadly, he is dead. So is the great love of my life—who was very much a woman.

Later, when I was doing the managing, I promoted whoever I thought could do the job better. That was widely disapproved off in those far off day—the assumption being that I was sleeping with the woman in question (rarely true, though the thought might have crossed my mind)—but that didn’t concern me much. I couldn’t see any reason to promote someone less competent—and make my life more difficult—just because he was a man.

What had men ever done for me? I had spent far too long locked up with far too many of them in boarding school—with only our Italian maids and a few matrons to lust after. Torture, I tell you! Single sex schools should be banned.

Strangely enough, my singe-sex boarding school—run by Benedictine monks—eventually saw the light and Ampleforth has been co-ed for years. Who ever said miracles don’t happen!

I’ve also never had any time for men-only clubs or similar institutions. Why on earth would any sane man want to exclude women—unless he wanted to feel superior and elitist? In that case, would I really want to be in a club with him and his fellows? Besides, I like women. They are multi-purpose people, the Swiss Army knives of humanity on steroids. You can sleep with them, walk with them, talk with them, laugh with them—and even make babies with them. What’s not to like?

As for women in politics, why not? They certainly can’t do any worse than men. Women doctors? I’ve had several—all excellent—and I hold to the view that if male doctors can examine women intimately, why not the other way around? A great deal—if not all—of this anti-female bias is pure prejudice, and based upon no substance whatsoever.  As for women in combat, the Kurds, for example, employ females in direct combat, and they are formidable. Russian women fought extensively and successfully against the Germans in WW II.

Women fight successfully with men all the time—and nature delivers them combat ready—complete with cunning. They don’t have to read Sun Tzu to know THE ART OF WAR. It’s genetic.

Over the years, I have come to the view that women, generally speaking, do have the edge on we males. You/They read people better, communicate better, and don’t posture as much.  Still, I’m talking in general. On an individual basis, people of both sexes seem to be equally flaky. We’re an odd bunch, we humans—and some of us, of either sex, aren’t too likeable.

Still, I have never understood why the sexes are not equally represented in all walks of life—and why women don’t fight harder for just that. Sometimes I wonder do you/they know something we males don’t know.

But if I understood that, perhaps I would understand women—and, as we all know, since I’m a man, that is impossible.

As a writer, I try, of course. All my books feature strong, interesting, and sexual women—and some are villains. Others are violent terrorists.

My books are so like real life. My terrorists are so like my mothers-in-law.

I like thinking about women. Happy memories. Delightful friends. Good company. Interesting prospects. And all that unspoken sexual tension.

I never could take to golf.

The Secret to Smart Groups Isn't Smart People—It's Women

A fleet of MIT studies finds that women are much better at knowing what their colleagues are really thinking. It's another reason to expect the gender wage gap to eventually flip.


…the single most important element of smart groups, according to the researchers, was their "average social sensitivity." That is, the best groups were also the best at reading the non-verbal cues of their teammates. And, since women score higher on this metric of emotional intelligence, teams with more women tended to be better teams.

What the heck is average social sensitivity? It is, essentially, mind-reading. When a member of your team—Michelle, we'll call her—says "I guess Danny really does have the answer for everything," and you detect a hint of aggrieved irony in Michelle's statement, while further noting the simultaneous drop in Michelle's chin as she makes the comment, coinciding with a deflated air of preemptive surrender in Michelle's tone, and you begin to think, hmmm, maybe what Michelle is actually saying is that Danny is a know-it-all jerk?, you are detecting what scientists would call "non-verbal clues." In plain-speak, you are reading between the lines. Indeed, like reading, social sensitivity is a kind of literacy, and it turns out that women are naturally more fluent in the language of tone and faces than the other half of their species.

Women are better at reading the mind through the face even online, when they can't see their teammates' faces. In a follow-up study (the full paper, which again isn't linked in the Times piece, lives here), MIT scientists gave participants a "Reading the Mind in the Eyes," or RME, test, where they were asked to identify complex emotions (e.g., shame or curiosity, rather than sadness or joy) in pictures of other people's eyes. Then they divided participants into teams and had them perform a number of tests, like brainstorming and group Sudoku. Again, teams with more women, who scored higher on the RME test, performed the best across the tasks. From the paper:

The [RME] scores of group members were a strong predictor of how well the groups could perform a wide range of tasks together, even when participants were only collaborating online via text chat and could not see each other’s eyes or facial expressions at all.

Reading these studies and the Times piece, I could think of two obvious objections.

  • First: Isn't it possible that there are specific personality traits—like openness or empathy—that might make some men just as good as women at reading the minds of their teammates?
  • Second: Is it really true that smarter teammates have so little to do with smart groups?

The MIT scientists answer the first question explicitly, with a no. "We found no significant correlation between a general factor of personality and collective intelligence or RME," they write. Mind-reading isn't a personality trait. It's a skill.

Second, the relationship between smart teammates and smart groups is complicated by the fact that groups are sometimes assigned problems that only require one person to solve. If you ask a team of highly emotionally sensitive people to solve a differential calculus problem, and none of them knows calculus, it's unlikely that they will come to grasp Taylor polynomials by looking deeply into each others' eyes and really, truly listening. When the problem can be solved by one really smart cookie (e.g.: who remembers calculus), it's nice to have a really smart cookie. If, however, the solution requires deep collaboration, EQ trumps IQ.

I found these studies eye-opening for two further reasons. First, there is a growing sense that the Internet can destroy interpersonal skills, kill our emotional intelligence, and turn us into warm-blooded versions of the very robots that we fear will one day take our jobs. But these studies suggest that the rules of empathy hold both on- and offline. Emotionally sensitive people are gifted at reading between the lines, whether the literal lines are brow wrinkles or text messages.

Second, if you take these findings seriously, they represent a third fork of evidence suggesting that the male-female gender wage gap will not only close but also invert. It would surprise me if, in a generation, women aren't earning more than men across many mainstream industries.

VOR words 448

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