I watched this fascinating documentary
and the other 6 parts. PS: DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER. I'm reporting what the documentary said not what I said.
Apparently in Norway the government equality programs define success as equal outcomes. In other words, until 50% of computer programmers are women the government equality programs are failing. According to the program though it's possible that's an unrealistic goal because men and women, on average, may be *born* with different interests. It's possible the best you can hope for is maybe 20% women engineers or less. The point being they maybe they should strive for equal opportunities not equal outcomes.
It was brought up, what about India and a few other countries where there are more female engineers. The answer is apparently many of these women choose to be engineers because they need money and that's where the money is but not because they want to. According to research the better the standard of living the less women want to be engineers or anything else technical.
That's kind of depressing to me. I guess because I want to see more female engineers. I've always believed it was purely cultural and hoped a change in culture would slowly happen until 50% of engineers were women. Of course they're not saying we shouldn't provide encouragement and support for anyone who wants to be an engineer. But, they are suggesting that looking at the fact that most engineering departments are 90% or more men and thinking that it should be 50% women might be basically impossible unless you want to force a lot of women to do something they don't want to do.
Another episode pointed out the studies that show how little influence parents have on children in certain matters. For example IQ is apparently correlated with biological parents not upbringing. This has been verified by studying adopted kids as well as twins separated at birth. This hit be hard because it basically said people have innate talents or to put it negatively, some people may never be good at something even if they try hard where as I've almost always believed the trying is all that matters. Or course I've believed people have different talents but I always assumed it was based on environment, influences by family, friends, culture, etc. Apparently that's not the case?
Another pointed out how we expect different breeds of dogs to have different average personalities. In other words, a retriever is a happy dog genetically. A rottweiler is aggressive genetically. Therefore it stands to reason humans personalities also have a large genetic component.
To be honest I wasn't sure how to apply this research. It was easy to except IQ is mostly genetic given the studies but it certainly seems like manners come from parents for example. Culture clearly comes from environment not genetics. In fact in another episode about violence they pointed out that how easily people resort to violence is very much cultural.
There's this kind of conflict where on the one hand if you knew genetically a certain population is unlikely to be good at X you might decide to say spend less promoting X to them. More concretely, if you were in charge of an education budget this information would be useful to help decide how to spend it. On the other hand everyone is still an individual. The data is only about averages.
I'd still like to see the culture change so that there were no disincentives for women (or men) to pursue engineering. Right now, at least in the USA, pursuing engineering activities is often looked down on. You're being a geek. Heck, Big Bang Theory propagates that by making fun of geeks and their geekiness every week. But it's even worse for women when the culture says "that's not stuff women should be interested in". Heck, I suppose it could even be more depressing if you think about it because if say 80% of women are genetically dispositioned to be uninterested in engineering they're likely to actually feel engineering is not for women and therefore propagate this attitude.
The sex episode pointed to possible genetic differences in men and women and that *on average* women will likely never be as promiscuous as men. One interesting topic was the idea of what would the world be like if women were as promiscuous as men. They pointed out you can look to the gay community as one possible example. According to the program, in 1 study, 28% of gay men in San Francisco have had more than 1000 partners. In contrast only 2% of lesbian women claimed to have more than 100 partners. None claimed 1000.
When surveyed on what their ideal number of sex partners throughout their life is Norwegian men answered 28 and Norwegian women 7. While the those numbers vary by culture the difference between men and women is always about 4 to 1. On this particular issue they don't currently have a way to prove it's genetic but they have theories for why it could easily be genetic. But, ultimately the idea that women want it just as much as men that is a pervasive message in the media is apparently false and the media are unlikely to change that hard as they might try.
Possibly the most interesting part of the series was the different POV in Norway from the USA. I have no idea if the documentary was presenting a false view of Norwegian scientists but basically the people they were showing had a very strong interest in believing that humans are born 100% a blank slate and can be moulded into anything. These people felt questioning this was a threat to equality and equal treatment for all. That's the exact opposite view in the USA where they try to find things to prove that for example sexual orientation is something you're born with not something you learn and therefore it should be accepted as natural. To put it another way, progressives in Norway feel that sexual orientation is a choice where as progressives in the USA feel that sexual orientation is not a choice. It's fascinating to see 2 groups with the same goals, "equal treatment for all", to have diametrically opposed views.
There was a lot more interesting things in the series. Check it out.