Friday, 23 October 2015

The Outcome of Outcome Feminism – Part 6 – Discussion of Assumptions

Author: Blaise Wilson

The Outcome of Outcome Feminism Series:

Part 1 – Factors to be Controlled: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem1.html
Part 2- Assumptions: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem2.html
Part 3 – Freeing Women's Time and Money: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/outcomeoutcomefem3.html
Part 4 – Cultural Pressure : http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/outcomeoutcomefem4.html
Part 5 – Discrimination: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/outcomeoutcomefem6.html
Part 6 – Discussion of Assumption 6: This article
Part 7 - Discussion of Assumption 1: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/the-outcome-of-outcome-feminism-part-7.html
Part 8 - The Outcome of Outcome Feminism Conclusion:  http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/outcomeoutcomefem8.html
Part 9 - Campaigns and Action: http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/outcomeoutcomefem9.html
Abstract/TLDR

In this article the Outcome Feminist assumption [23] that gender is a purely social construct, and that biology does not play a role in the choices of men and women is investigated. The evidence indicates that there are biological differences which impact men's and women's career choices. These are reflected in the current trends of careers as discussed in the factors of the Wage Gap [22]. Thus many of the suggested solutions will be ineffective and using ratios of gender as indicators of discrimination is invalid.

Introduction

In this sixth part of the Outcome of Outcome Feminism series assumption 6 from part 2 [23] will be investigated. This was the key assumption which many of the suggested solutions use as a foundation. If this assumption is proved false the ratio of gender as a measurement will not be a suitable indicator of discrimination.

Only assumption 6 (gender is a social construct) is discussed in this article. The next article will discuss Assumption 1. The other assumptions will not be investigated.

“Assumption 6: Gender is a social construct. There is no biological sexual dimorphism in humans [3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10].

This assumes there is no difference between the wants and needs of men and women. All women want the same jobs, and hours as men. Women don't choose to be stay at home mothers or jobs that earn less, or to work less hours – they are forced into these roles though old fashioned cultural pressure and discrimination.” [15]

Despite the large number of Outcome Feminist resources making this assumption [3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10] there was very little evidence of them questioning it's validity. It boils down to a 'nature versus nurture' argument. This complex topic is the focus of ongoing debate. However the only element of interest is 'does nature have any impact on choice?' If gender is purely a social concept we should see no difference between men and women. They should have identical biology which will translate into identical choices. Different biology will indicate a difference in drivers that influence choices, which in turn will affect the Gender Wage Gap.

While looking for the supporting evidence from feminist outlets it became clear there is very little, if any, scientific data behind the assumption. Feminist education on the subject do not touch on the debate between nature and nurture [17]. This puts the students in a dangerous position of being indoctrinated into an ideology without any consideration to alternative views.

From Feminism 101 [18] “Gender is socially instilled rather than biologically determined, but so is religion.” This statement is not supported by any scientific references but makes the statement that gender is akin to money. If we all stopped accepting money it would no longer have any influence on our social structure. Money only works because we all agree it has value and act accordingly. If we all agreed there are no differences between the genders, would this be a reality?

How far is gender a social construct and or a biological one? This is a very interesting question, however it is out of scope for this article. The question we are interested in is 'are there biological differences between men and women that may influence their choices.' We are not interested in 'how much', simply a black and white answer. If biology has any influence at all, then gender can not be 100% socially constructed as the Outcome Feminists put forth.

Although there maybe more differences, for the sake of time only three will be investigated. This will not be a complete comparison – only enough to establish there are some biological differences between men and women that may impact their average choices. The three areas covered are:
  • physical
  • hormonal
  • mental
Physical

“The physiological differences between the sexes disadvantage women in strength-based and aerobic fitness tests by 20 to 40%; so for the same output women have to work harder than men. Despite the differences, there will be some women, amongst the physical elite who will achieve the entry tests for [Ground Close Combat] roles. But these women will be more susceptible to acute short term injury than men.” [19, p4]

As demonstrated by the UK Army there is a significant difference between the average man and average women, although there is an overlap between them. Men and women are not physical identical. This will influence the roles they choose to play in society through their career. Women will be less likely to select roles that require physical labour as they are at a disadvantage to their male peers, although this will not deter all women.

Hormonal

In a study on mice at the University of California San Francisco [20] showed a clear link between hormones, genetic expression, and behaviour. By influencing the hormones they could impact the behaviour of the animal:

“Female mice in the laboratory normally exhibit what one might consider classic motherly behaviors—mating with male mice and nurturing their young. But female mice with a genetic trait making them unable to sense the hormone estrogen lose their interest in sex and spend less time caring for their offspring.” A similar experiment on testosterone produced equivalent results for male mice.

Hormonal theory is often used in gender reassignment to influence behaviours of humans, demonstrating a clear link between hormones and behaviour. As men and women have different levels of testosterone and estrogen this provides strong evidence that men and women will have different behaviours, which will impact their choices. The hormone estrogen will influence women to place caring for their offspring as a higher priority than men. This will impact career choices by a biological influence making women more likely than men to choose to be stay at home parents.

Mental

“Recent studies highlight a long-held suspicion about the brains of males and females. They're not the same” [21] this website goes on to highlight that women's brains tend to focus on language, indicating the are genetically predisposed to social skills compared to men. There are many other differences, but this key point in itself explains why women have a higher tenancy to prefer social jobs, and this is reflected in their career choices.

Do Current Trends Support Biological Influence?

If biology does play a role in career choices, we would expect these trend to show in  gendered career choices. This can be checked by going back to the first part of this series [22] and reviewing the factor and trends highlighted with the biological pressures in mind. The biological expectation that women avoid dangerous and physical roles and have a preference for social and care careers certainly holds true. As does women being more likely than men to put their children before a career and giving up a full time job to care for them. This provides further real life evidence that gender is biologically influenced and is not purely a social construct.

Why does Sexual Dimorphism Exist?

This section is mostly hypothetical, with logical steps and contains assumptions without citations. If required it will be investigated further at a later date.

Having established that gender cannot be a purely social construct but is one at least partially based in biology, the question arises of why is this so.

One answer is women are the limiting factor of procreation. It takes a women 9 months to make a baby, and then a women isn't ready to reproduce again for a while after the birth. However a man can reproduce not only for an extended part of his lifetime, but more often. Just considering the numbers show that women are the bottleneck of human survival. As such their lives are genetically more precious.

Social structures have sprung up around this notion that women should be protected. A safe working environment is an extremely new concept, especially when compared to the genetic life of homo sapiens.

Thus, gender as a social construct is based in biology, not the other way round. The larger question is does our modern society need this social pressure in order to protect the species, or it is outdated?

The trade-off, if women are no longer protected, is more women will die in the workplace. In order to accept this, male and female lives must be socially equivalent.

Once male and female lives are socially equal, it will improve the gender wage gap by dismissing the social pressures of society for women to stay within the protection of the home. However the biological pressures will remain.

This biological pressure should be respected. Men and women would continue to choose different careers and have different priorities in life, even if all perceived social pressure was removed and the lives of men and women treated with equal reverence.

The impact of proving this assumption as false is dramatic. It throws into question the suitability of using the ratio of men to women as an indicator of discrimination.

References

[1] UK Government request companies publish gendered wage data:
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/07/britain-gender-pay-gap-world/398684/ accessed 29/08/2015

[2] Wage Gap in Rwanda, Burundi and Nicaragua is almost non existent:
http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/global-gender-gap-equality-is-overrated/16110 accessed 29/08/2015

[3] UN Women Progess Report 2015 – 2016
http://progress.unwomen.org/en/2015/pdf/UNW_progressreport.pdf accessed 29/08/2015

[4] New Republic – How to Equalize the Female Pay Gap
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118653/how-equalize-female-compensation accessed 29/08/2015

[5] New Brunswick: The Wage Gap Action Plan 2005-2010
https://www.gnb.ca/0012/Womens-Issues/wg-es/tools/pdf/5-Action_E.pdf accessed 29/08/2015

[6] Roosevelt Institute: How to Fix the Gender Wage Gap: Going Far Beyond an App
http://rooseveltinstitute.org/new-roosevelt/how-fix-gender-wage-gap-going-far-beyond-app accessed 29/08/2015

[7] American Progress: Seven Actions that could shrink the Gender Wage Gap
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/report/2014/09/18/97421/7-actions-that-could-shrink-the-gender-wage-gap/ accessed 29/08/2015

[8] Policy.Mic: Norway Has Found a Solution to the Gender Wage Gap That America Needs to Try
http://mic.com/articles/87983/norway-has-found-a-solution-to-the-gender-wage-gap-that-america-needs-to-try accessed 29/08/2015

[9] IMF STAFF DISCUSSION NOTE: Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity
https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2013/sdn1310.pdf accessed 29/08/2015

[10] Graduating to a Pay Gap The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation:
http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/graduating-to-a-pay-gap-the-earnings-of-women-and-men-one-year-after-college-graduation.pdf accessed 29/08/2015

[11] Quotas in the EU:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/65f494e6-f5e7-11e1-a6c2-00144feabdc0.html accessed 29/08/2015

[12] Pros and Cons of Quotas:
http://www.newstatesman.com/business/2012/09/quotas-women-boards-all-pros-and-cons-one-place accessed 29/08/2015

[13] Gender Wage Gap within the same job:
http://www.payscale.com/gender-lifetime-earnings-gap accessed 29/08/2015

[14] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now
http://www.oecd.org/gender/closingthegap.htm accessed 29/08/2015

[15] Outcome of Outcome Feminism Assumptions:
http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem2.html accessed 17/10/2015

[16] Some cultural have 4 types of gender:
https://www.quora.com/If-gender-is-a-social-construct-then-how-can-a-sexual-orientation-toward-a-particular-gender-be-innate accessed 17/10/2015

[17] Feminist studies on Gender as a Social construct:
https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/gender-stratification-and-inequality-11/gender-and-socialization-86/the-social-construction-of-gender-496-8675/ accessed 17/10/2015

[18] Feminist questions on gender as a social construct: https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/faq-if-gender-is-a-social-construct-arent-feminists-saying-that-gender-doesnt-really-exist-at-all/ accessed 17/10/2015

[19] WOMEN IN GROUND CLOSE COMBAT (GCC) REVIEW PAPER – 01 DECEMBER 2014
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/389575/20141218_WGCC_Findings_Paper_Final.pdf

[20] Hormonal changes produce behavioural changes:
http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/02/11440/male-and-female-behavior-deconstructed accssed 17/10/2015

[21] Men and women's brains function differently
http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-male-female-brains-differ accessed 17/10/2015

[22] EgaFem, Outcome of Outcome Series: Factors to be controlled:
http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem1.html accessed 22/10/2015

[23] EgaFem, Outcome of Outcome Series: Assumptions:
http://egafeminist.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/outcomeoutcomefem2.html accessed 22/10/2015

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