Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Title IX finale A correspondent writes in response to my earlier posts on Title IX:

There has never been anything to stop male engineers from mating with women on the right end of the curve. I think what you mean is women on the right end for spatial-mechanical ability, which is what should set female engineers apart from other bright women. But do such males really prefer bright women with a mechanical bent--or bright women with a more typical high verbal pattern?

Quite right, I should have clarified that. The women on the right tail of the curve are disproportionately verbally rather than mathematically gifted. But I stand by my original statement (that engineering/sci men will not oppose a quota-fueled influx of women as much as one might think) for two reasons: First of all, you're more likely to meet women who enroll in the same courses or who work in the same department. This is true many times over for graduate students, who often never set foot outside their departments. Even if there was no preference for mathematically inclined women over verbal women, the influx of women into engineering would simply result in more women. A hypothetical male engineering graduate student, wishing to optimize his chances of mating before he leaves school, is unlikely to oppose gender quotas as strongly as he opposes race quotas. Secondly, I do think there is a preference for male engineers to prefer mathematically inclined women over verbally inclined women. Perhaps there's a survey on this somewhere, but all I can offer here is anecdotal evidence: look at Slashdot's response whenever there's a "nerd girl" in the news. If said nerd girl is a "hottie" or even "adequate", then outpourings of undying affection will follow. Example: Irish cryptography expert. (More available upon request...) My point is that there are a lot of engineering guys who openly drool over attractive women who can code with aplomb. Perhaps the majority of the technical crowd actually prefers women with high verbal ability, but they certainly aren't as vocal as the ones pining after "geek girls". Note also that it may be that these guys think they want a techie girl, but they would be best off with a verbal girl. I leave the calculation of the tension between assortative mating and genetic (intellectual) diversity as an exercise for the reader...

posted by godlesscapitalist | 6/05/2002 02:21:00 AM | |

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