Sunday, September 17, 2006

Philippe Rushton and the "glass ceiling"
Sept. 14, 2006

If it wasn’t Philippe Rushton’s study, I probably could have worked up more of a head of steam over the latest “finding” that it’s lower IQs holding women back from those big corporate jobs.
But Rushton is just that wacky University of Western Ontario professor who’s always coming up with some one-off, offensive explanation for why things are the way they are. Getting riled up by one of his theories is barely worth the effort.
He’s something of a dream academic for people looking to justify discrimination. The psychology prof is known for his past work ranking Asian and European intelligence above that of the black races. His most recent study on the differences between men and women concluded that it’s “very likely” that the reason women aren’t advancing as rapidly in their careers is because they’re less intelligent than men.
Being called intellectually inferior by a guy like Rushton is practically a badge of honour. It means you and your kind are enough of a force to alarm people like him into developing crazy theories for why you ought to be oppressed. If Philippe Rushton is saying mean things about you, that’s most likely a sign that you’re doing something right.
“We have to find the truth about the normal distribution in society,” said Rushton about his study. “It’s not right to simply say, ‘It must be discrimination and don’t dare say anything else.’ One should really look at the facts.”
Absolutely. But in this case, the facts are that the way the world is being run is not so good.
Could it have something to do with men making all the big decisions with little input from women? I’d be just another Rushton if I postulated that. But you have to at least consider the possibility that the virtual absence of women in positions of power contributes to the problems plaguing the world these days. The world needs us, but we’re nowhere in sight.
I don’t mean to put men down. Collectively, their tremendous energy is what drives us forward into whatever frontiers may await. Men seem particularly good at being innovative and daring, and pushing the limits - all desirable skills in a complex society.
But female energy is equally important. I sense in the female nature a need to take the longer view. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the longer view is exactly what’s missing in the decisions being made around the big tables of the world. Women aren’t there, and a vital point of view is going unheard .
Just over a decade ago, people believed that such problems could be corrected by forcing women into positions of power, through a combination of affirmative action and aggressive recruiting campaigns. Former prime minister Jean Chretien even appointed women candidates just to get the numbers up, and corporations scoured their ranks for eligible females to elevate into big jobs.
It didn’t work. And as Rushton rightly notes, that isn’t solely because of discrimination. But neither is it about brain power (a fact underlined quite nicely by any number of really terrible decisions made by male corporate and political leaders over the years).
My sense is that it comes down to women being unable to find their fit in a system built exclusively by men. Such an issue will take care of itself when the number of women holding big jobs reaches a point of critical mass, but we’ve yet to get even close to that.
And so women taking on those big jobs continue to be expected to either “take it like a man” or step aside - which they’ve done in droves despite some really sincere attempts to propel them through the glass ceiling.
On the one hand, Rushton et al might shrug off such examples as confirmation that women simply don’t have the right stuff for the job. All the more proof why men should continue to rule the world.
On the other, we are in crisis on any number of fronts around the globe, including our own country. We’ve made a number of really wrong decisions that are going to cause our children and grandchildren a great deal of grief in the coming years, whether that be in the form of fallout from a war in the Middle East or just the slow decay of our social fabric. If this is how men run the world, then women simply have to get more involved.
How will it happen? Ultimately, governments and businesses will have to see that it’s in their own interests to tap into the female skill set. They have to want us in our own right. Affirmative action can launch the process, but it will take a deep and widely held belief in the need for more female energy to sustain the effort. I hope I live long enough to see that.
In the meantime, cheers to Philippe Rushton. As always, his comments make the need for change just that much more obvious.

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