Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A gender gap that is here to stay?

I sent the other day an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Subtle Ways Gender Gaps Persist in Science,” to a friend. She pointed out that even in the “social sciences” the gender gap persists in a very obvious way, and perhaps for a reason. She thinks most research there has become so reductionist and quasi-autistic, that “extreme male brains” must be naturally attracted to and likely to excel at such work. And, of course, they also tend to hire and promote kindred souls (for lack of a better word), despite occasional bitter rivalries. According to my friend, this self and other-selection keeps even many men out – and only women who can at least imitate the modus operandi of the male cognitive outliers can put a foot in the door. Apparently, this problem is particularly acute in economics, where the proportion of female tenure-track and tenured faculty is lower than in computers and pure math.

P.S. A NYT piece says blacks and Hispanics are "conspicuously absent" from tech jobs - just as women are. It seems males from a few racial/cultural groups are overrepresented in nerdy jobs across the board - and, of course, in the high-stakes gambling that is now called "investment." So "the best and the brightest" won't go away, no matter how many satirical jibes they need to suffer.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Amusing ourselves to death – or not?

The Neuroskeptic recently posted a comment on a study examining “joke addiction as a neurological symptom.” Apparently, some patients with brain damage develop a compulsion to joke all the time, and seem most obsessed with pun-based punch lines. Curiously, this usually happens to individuals who have suffered some brain damage on the right side of the brain. Could “neurotypicals” develop a similar tendency? In fact, this blog post reminded me of several American friends and colleagues (who seem to suffer from a milder form of compulsive wiseckracking), my favorite sitcoms, and much of British and American humor (to say nothing of a few jokes in the comments section beneath the Neuroskeptik’s text).