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Gender Gap: Reactions to Spector

College Pulse has the ability to slice and dice in many different ways all the data offered up by students responding to its surveys. Let’s take a look at the questions we reviewed yesterday, but in this instance to see how the responses vary between male and female Dartmouth students.

Q: Do you think it was okay for The Dartmouth to publish the article?

82.8% of Dartmouth men think that it was acceptable for The D to publish Ryan Spector ‘19’s article, but only 52.8% of women share that view:

Pulse Gender OK to Publish.jpg

Q: In general, do you agree with the writer’s position?

66.9% of men disagree with Spector’s position versus 91.1% of women:

Pulse Gender Disagree with Spector.jpg

Q: Agree/Disagree: Assuming that the applicant pool was evenly split in terms of gender, the decision to select an 80% female directorate is inherently unjust.

41.3% of men agree that a 15:4 gender imbalance would be inherently unjust if the applicant pool were balanced 50:50, whereas only 13.8% of women do:

Pulse Gender 50-50 Applicant Pool.jpg

Q: Do you think gender was considered in the directors’ selection process?

75.9% of men believe that gender was a factor in the Trips Director and Assistant Director coming up with a 15:4 gender imbalance among its members, but only 53.3% of women do?

Pulse Gender Use of Gender.jpg

So why the stark difference between men and women on these pointed questions?

I was going to speculate about an answer, but then from down in Cambridge I heard Larry Summers yelling, “Don’t do it!” So I won’t.

Any suggestions, dear readers?

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

You seem to need a fool to rush in where wise men fear to tread, so here are some speculations:

  • Question 1: This was the closest vote, but those opposing publication may have been motivated by concern that “discussion” of the selection process could prove to be a Trojan Horse introduced by the forces of male privilege. These people would tend to see this issue as a struggle between male and female privilege, with no possibility of a middle ground.
  • Questions 2-4: Women may have more likely than men to disagree with Spector, reject the idea that the 80/20 imbalance is inherently unjust, and doubt that gender was a criterion for selection because the opposite views might be taken to imply that women could not have won 80% of the positions based on merit alone. Given the history of male attitudes toward women, some women may have felt that they could not afford to concede on any of these three questions.

The thread that runs through all of these potential explanations is a distrust of men and a suspicion that men have still not accepted women as equals. Give a man an inch, and he’ll take a mile.

Addendum: And another:

I’m not a mathematician, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so you might want to check my math, but if all things were equal (applicant pool had same number of male and female applicants of equal merit) and there was no unconscious (or conscious) bias, then the odds of selecting 15 females and 4 men would be the same as getting 15 heads if you flipped a coin 19 times and the odds of that happening is less than 1% (.00739 according to an online odds calculator).

Just saying …

Addendum: A (female) parent writes in:

Zombies are preferring to eat the brains of our girls? No, just kidding. But this is of course an extension of the concept of affirmative action, and that’s not, shall we say, an uncomplicated subject. With finite places for an infinite number of applicants, correcting historical injustice means making current generations pay for the sins of their foreparents.

And in a way of course that’s reasonable; a white male excluded, say, from Harvard so a black female can be accepted still has great odds of succeeding in the wider world, even without, perhaps, an Ivy League degree. The world is full of movers and shakers who got excellent educations at SUNY schools, for example. There’s the lifelong sting of not having that glittering diploma, perhaps, but not a huge detriment to a successful life.

But that black woman who did get it? That might have granted her the extra credibility her own talents might not have been sufficiently respected for.

This of course is the rosiest of spins, but it’s not invalid.

And perhaps, regarding the case in question here, the same shall have been accomplished, though on a less earthshaking scale, for the women accepted as Trips leaders. Mr. Spector can clearly advocate quite loudly for himself and does not slink off abashed into the night.

And it’s always possible they just didn’t like him, and with all things considered, and equal qualifications all around, they did what hiring managers do everywhere, every hour of every day — given two equally-qualified candidates, you go for the chemistry. Equal-opportunity, non-discrimination laws attempt to put bounds on this natural human impulse, to try to even out the playing field a little.

And what is just in theory is always going to hurt someone. Life is, you know, always going to be unfair, even if we try to pour salve on it 24 hours a day…

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

This whole “In Solidarity” dialog is terribly dispiriting. Tired identity cliches stacked one on top of another, together with gross mis-statements of Spector’s actual position. (And together with silly errors like not knowing how to use an apostrophe.)


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