Sunday, 3 June 2018

The Feminists Do Women A Disservice Here - Failing To Understand Why There Are Not More Female CEOs

There has been a lot of hoo-ha in the past couple of days about the reasons leading companies have given for male dominance of boardrooms. Several article writers have gone to town on what they consider pathetic excuses for women's under-representation in the boardroom:

• “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment” 

• “There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board - the issues covered are extremely complex”

• “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”

• “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”

• “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board”

• “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”

• “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done - it is someone else’s turn”

• “There aren’t any vacancies at the moment - if there were I would think about appointing a woman”

• “We need to build the pipeline from the bottom - there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector”

Not only are most of the above dismal cop-outs, they fail to do any justice to what's really going on, and why there aren't more women in leading roles in FTSE 100 companies. Previously on here I've been through the reasons why the gender pay gap myth is one of the crassest examples of non-thinking currently going on in the debating sphere (see links at bottom of page) - but the reasons why there are not more women in top jobs in FTSE 100 companies is a bit more subtle, slightly more complex, and actually, in my view, more of a credit to women than the feminists realise.

To try to summarise it in a nutshell: the main reason there are not more women in top jobs is because, on average (and remember, we are always talking about on average here - there are always exceptions and outliers), women have better reasons than men for not wanting to be in those jobs. Those reasons are evolutionary, biological, sociological and cultural - and they are, in many cases, examples of where women have a better grasp of well-being and quality of life than men.

To see why, consider a typical man whose preoccupation is climbing the greasy pole of career success. His life consists of working 70-80 hours a week, under highly competitive and stressful conditions, which often involve ruthlessness and one-upmanship, and a narrow focus on a single pursuit. He may well make it to the top, but at what cost to other areas of his life - family, friends, emotional well-being, kindness, empathy and a generally balanced life?

And we all know what the primary phenomenon is that drives people to the top - the pursuit of status; it's the ultimate peacock's tail. Status-mongering is hard-wired into male evolution - for reproduction and survival. In the modern age, humans have developed a socio-cultural sophistication that enables them to be driven by things other than genetic biological stimulus - but status is here to stay, and probably always will be.

Status doesn't dominate your chances of passing on your genes as it once did in animal hierarchies, but it does play a key part in assortative mating. Because women generally desire socio-economically upwards pursuits in the men they wish to have children with, status is a much more important thing for men than it is for women, which is why men are generally far more competitive than women, and why this plays out in the workplace statistics.

In fact, someone (I forget who, possibly a character in a movie) made an interesting observation whilst standing by the Hudson River looking over at the Manhattan skyline - he said that pretty much the whole thing has been designed, bit by bit, by the driving force of the male pursuit of sex and genetic propagation: that it's one big agglomeration of peacocks' tails.
Men are generally more interested in status, and will regularly invest time and energy in pursuits that are traded off for many of life's other rich tapestries of experience. There is a lot more to this complex subject, from both sides (obviously!!) - but the myopic narrative peddled by feminists that women are so unfairly underrepresented in the workplace, and the blinkered attempts above from representatives of leading companies trying to have a stab at the matter, are both inadequate to the task of explaining this.

With a plot of normal distribution (shaped like a bell curve) the data points tend to be close to the mean - so for example, in human height, most adult humans are between 4ft 5 and 6ft 5. But not everyone is; some people are 6ft 8 or 6ft 9, and they are mostly men. In other words, if you met someone on the street who is 6ft 8, it is overwhelmingly probable that it's going to be a man.

Similarly, if you heard that someone had been arrested for road rage, it is overwhelmingly likely to be a man. The differences between men and women in terms of aggression is not as large as the difference between the number of men and the number of women who are likely to be in prison for a violent crime, because at the furthest extreme end, the majority of the most violent people in society are male.

Like the above examples, you are going to find that, on average, the outliers in terms of individuals pursuing a status-driven career to the top of a FTSE 100 company are mostly men. Women are, on average, less likely to be driven by status (and more power to them for seeing through the superficialities of status-mongering in my view), and are therefore less likely to be in the boardroom.

That may change - and boardrooms may benefit hugely from having far more female representatives - but I doubt it will change that much, because many smart people do not want to climb greasy poles, work 70-80 hour weeks, spend very little time with family and friends, and scale their career so far upwards that they end up sacrificing many of life's other rewarding pleasures. It is very likely the case that more of these smart people are women than men.

A close analogy may be in the school playground, where all the testosterone-filled lumps are trying to court the relatively empty prestige of being a star on the football field, while all the smart kids are sitting on the outskirts devouring calculus, chemistry and Cervantes.

Further reading on the fallacy of the so-called 'unfair' gender pay gap: