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    Proofiness - How Gender And Pay Statistics Are Used To Do Bad Things
    By Hank Campbell | August 4th 2011 03:38 PM | 29 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    Proofiness, slightly different than Stephen Colbert's truthiness, is basically finding statistics you want to believe to enhance your confirmation bias.  It was coined by Charles Seife, a long-time science writer who teaches journalism at New York University, because he was outraged at skewed representation on both sides of the aisle, like Al Gore for cherry-picking data about global warming and George Bush for cherry-picking data about how tax refunds would save poor people money.   He wrote a book on it called "Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception" to clobber everyone he found doing it.

    His idea cuts across all parts of the cultural discourse.  If you want to believe conservatives are brain damaged, you can find a study for that - the 80% of academia that are progressives feel some proofiness about that one also.    If you want to believe radiation from the Fukushima nuclear reactor was killing US babies on the west coast weeks after the earthquake in Japan, proofiness is for you.

    In Women In Science - You Are Oppressed, Even If You Are Not I got a variety of comments, some using statistics they found after searching for 15 seconds on the Internet - and using those statistics as proofiness instead of looking with objectivity at the actual data.  Proofiness in that if they see female stock clerks make less money on average than male stock clerks, or I am a man, well then by golly the whole article contending wonderfully progressive academia is not sexist just has to be invalid.

    Except it isn't invalid.   Statistics are misused all of the time, as a 1970s bit of proofiness about 50% of marriages ending in divorce caused more actual divorces because people believed everyone else was doing it.   

    One commenter even quoted the advocacy group American Association of University Women (AAUW) conclusions without even bothering to look at their underlying data, including its militant lament ("hostile environment and discrimination") that women only get paid 80% what men make.  Except, as Kay S. Hymowitz writes in the City Journal, when proofiness is more important than accuracy, you make sure to only state wayyyy down at the bottom of your 'study' that when factors like education and hours worked are controlled for, women actually make 95% what men make - it's something, but not a call to arms. 5% is not nothing but it is a distinction too small to be accurately determined and in categories so broad - "business" - as to be maddening.  Men work more hours than women, for example, and there are differences in education and careers.  Some lower paying jobs like counseling and psychology, are 70% women.  Numbers of hours worked differences can be due to kids, since studies show in childless women the gap below, and the wage gap, disappears.



    Sure, there can be discrimination - it is the nature of human beings, both men and women, that given freedom of thought, some people will be assholes.  Nothing we can do about that.  But the AAUW and other groups want to lead us to believe discrimination is institutionalized in science academia - and the numbers simply do not show it.

    One interesting item Hymowitz references I had not seen before, despite tilting at windmills in arguing that progressive academics are not sexist pigs for four years, was a 2010 American Economic Journal study by Marianne Bertrand of the University of Chicago and Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz of Harvard.     Goldin is notable for a 2000 study showing that blind auditions increased the likelihood female musicians would be hired, so she is not exactly some old guy rationalizing a "Mad Men" 1960s misogyny lifestyle.   
     right after graduation, men and women had nearly identical earnings and working hours. Over the next ten years, however, women fell way behind. Survey questions revealed three reasons for this. First and least important, men had taken more finance courses and received better grades in those courses, while women had taken more marketing classes. Second, women had more career interruptions. Third and most important, mothers worked fewer hours. 
    Not much we can do about females of the species giving birth, nor can we artificially impose wage minimums based on gender.

    Critics will then contend that evil America needs more 'family friendly' policies to let women work more but surveys show that while women do work fewer hours as they have kids - they seek jobs with a lighter schedule - it isn't because the men in their lives are all 1950s era holdovers , it's because they have a choice.    We can't be against choice for women, can we?  Hymowitz references Iceland and its absolutely over-the-top insistence that the private sector be framed through gender issues - corporate boards must be at least 40 percent female, families get paid public child care and a very generous family leave policy - but in Iceland far more women still take family leave than men.   They want to take it more than men.
     
    What wages do women make in hyper-fair Iceland?  62% of what men do.

    As I have noted many times, what we need to watch is current hiring trends, not average wages or average employment by gender.  A lot of fine researchers are still working who came up through the ranks when it was harder for women and those men, who have done nothing wrong, can't be forced into retirement to make numbers artificially equal right now.   Recent hiring shows women are actually being hired more than men for faculty jobs that come open so the problem is fixing itself while maintaining a culture of excellence in science - and not a culture of equality regardless of quality.

    Comments

    Hfarmer
    I think I know what's confusing you and many other people after reading this paper from the proceedings of the National Academy of sciences. Understanding current causes of women's under-representation in science.   The paper agrees with your main trust that there is not a active bias against women in science.    It notes that many of the reasons for the under-representation of women in science these days has more to do with "their choices".

    However it also points out the following.
    To the extent that women’s choices are freely made and women are satisfied with the outcomes, then we have no problem. How ever, to the extent that these choices are constrained by biology and/or society, and women are dissatisfied with the outcomes, or women’s talent is not actualized, then we most emphatically have a problem. With a redirection of resources, this problem might be addressed by education and outreach to young women and girls and to academic administrators. Past strategies to remediate
    women’s underrepresentation can be viewed as a success story; however, continuing to advocate strategies successful in the past to combat shortages of women in math-based fields today mistakes the current causes of women’s underrepresentation. If not discrimination, what is the cause of women’s under- representation? Today, the dearth of women in math-based fields is related to three factors, one of which (fertility/lifestyle choices) hinders women in all fields, not just mathematical ones, whereas
    the others (career preferences and ability differences) impact women in math-based fields. Regarding the role of math-related career preferences, adolescent girls often prefer careers focusing on people as opposed to things, and this preference accounts for their burgeoning numbers in such fields as medicine and biology, and their smaller presence in math-intensive fields such as computer science, physics, engineering, chemistry, and mathematics, even when math ability is equated. 

    I underlined society for a reason.   The social gender role prescribed for women does not include science.  From a young age they are drilled with the role of wife and mother etc before anything else.  They are subjected to huge pressures to conform to that.  From advertisements for an easy bake oven, to baby dolls that poop and pee on themselves. 

    As someone who has wrestled with societies gender roles from being a feminine boy rebelling by being feminine, to being a feminine teenager rebelling against counselors trying to steer me into a career like secretary or some such, to being who I am today.  These influences are very strong and have nothing to do with biology. 

    In short. No one is sitting in a administrative office at a science lab not trying to hire women.  The problem is that societies overall view of science as a male occupation drives women and girls away long before most get to that stage.  (Like Dr. Tyson said about all the resistance he faced to his wanting to be a scientist "Don't you want to be an athlete" they would say to him).

    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Gerhard Adam
    I underlined society for a reason.   The social gender role prescribed for women does not include science.
    OK so "who" exactly is society?  Is it the majority gender?  I'm am disturbed by the tone of entitlement that seems to dominate these discussions.  As if there is a vast conspiracy of people at all levels that are striving to deprive women of their opportunities.  Despite the fact that, in the U.S., women represent the dominant gender, it appears that they are to take no responsibility for their choices, their influences, or their behavior as role models. 
    ...one of which (fertility/lifestyle choices) hinders women in all fields...
    This statement is simply mind-boggling.  If freely made choices are the problem, then where does such logic lead?  Are you truly suggesting that women lack the capacity to make such choices for themselves, because that's certainly what that statement implies.

    ...rebelling against counselors...
    I have to ask.  How many of these counselors were women?

    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I would be shocked, spending time around Dr. Tyson, anyone thought he could be a pro athlete before being a pro scientist.  His intelligence and creative reflex are outstanding but his physical stuff, not so much.  But it certainly seems to be the case that society assumes all black people are better athletes, to the detriment of other colors - the inventor of stereotype threat has shown that white athletes sometimes do worse because of expectation that if they don't perform well, it will reinforce the stereotype that white people are terrible athletes.  And that anxiety makes them perform worse, which feeds the stereotype of the lousy white athlete, and the vicious cycle continues...

    Good thing in the NBA all colors and genders are paid the same regardless of ability.  Oh wait, no they're not...
    Hfarmer
    Tyson says that he was told that athletics would be better for him, in the video I embedded here in a comment related to this posting 



    So be shocked. I'm not. For I know how strong the stereotypes of black people, (and women and transgender/transsexual women) are. You have to experience them.  
    Hank, when it comes to issues of discrimination, it's almost like I'm an electron or proton, and you are a neutron or neutrino.  I'm trying to explain what it's like to be effected by electromagnetism to you.  Yet since you don't feel the EM field you don't admit it exist...even as you can see the undeniable effects of it on us charged particles.
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Hank
    Your contention is that only a person who has met one specific kind of discrimination or ridicule can recognize that kind anywhere, including in numbers job compiled by the government.   So neither of us can recognize gender bias?  I disagree.  Try living in California and having been raised in the south - there is a 100% no one would ridicule your color to your face but ridiculing the south doesn't count as bias?  Try being on my twitter feed and being a Republican to get stereotype threat regarding funding or gender issues.
     
    Discrimination takes many many forms, some overt and overwhelming, like against the wrong political party or the wrong home town here, and some are more insidious, but contending I can't recognize each of its varied forms is silly.   The opposite is true - I actually get exposed to more instances of discrimination because I am a white guy and people who are going to be biased will be more honest about it around me than you.

    My point on Tyson is that, if you stood near him, you would have a hard time figuring out what sport casual people would look at him and think 'he must be a ___ player.'  He doesn't have the frame of an athlete at all.   Anyone telling him they assumed he would play a particular sport is basically the worst scout ever.   His intelligence, however, is evident after 5 words out of his mouth.
    Hfarmer
    Exactly.  I cannot know what it would be like to be a white man living in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.  A place where white people are in the minority and persecuted.   (No matter what numbers I read said one way or the other)  For the same reason you cannot know what it's like to be a African American in the United States of America where we are in the minority and marginalized.

    You see, most racism, sexism, and other discrimination these days is not overt.  On a one to one level it usually comes through in the form of gentle pressure, making a person feel unwelcome.
      i.e.

    A female graduate student with good grades say a 3.4 GPA having trouble finding a thesis adviser.  They can't get anyone to work with them so they drop out.  ( This does happen).

    A gay man working as a particle physicist, hearing anti gay sentiments in his environment, but they aren't directed at him.  He does not want to be called a whistleblower so he does not complain.

    A white man in Zimbabwe loosing his farm because of land redistribution.  The government says, and most of Africa agrees, that it is merely righting the historic wrong of the land being taken from black Africans. 

    What all of the above have in common is members of a dominant group having privilege and not being able to empathize with what it would be like to be a member of a smaller or less powerful social group.

    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Hfarmer
    Do I really need to define "society" for you.  Society is everyone out there in the world.  Go for a walk down the street, go to a mall, go to a public place with lots of people and look around.  That is society.
    Social gender norms are part of every society.  In the west, with which we are all familiar, females are not supposed to be good at math.   Which speaks to what Hank mentioned about stereotype threat.  The same effect has been demonstrated when administering math test to both women and African Americans. 



    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Hank, I'm the person you sent you the link to the AAUW story, as well as the one to the BLS data page that shows the results of their annual survey of men's and women's salaries for full time workers. Of the 141 occupations for which data on both genders is statistically significant enough to make comparisons, the 2010 BLS data show that in only 4 do women out earn men, and there just barely. Even in occupations where women make up more than 90% of the job holders, the few men employed make on average more than the women.

    I included the AAUW link because, despite the fact that they are an advocacy organization, the data they provided in the PDF to which they linked showed the BLS comparisons for women v. men scientists and engineers from an earlier year's set of BLS data. I was hoping that you'd spend enough time exploring that you'd find it and that way not have to do what I did, which was import the BLS data into Excel, then add columns to calculate the comparisons.

    By the way, I first began looking at BLS wage comparison data more than 30 years ago. I've certainly spent more than 15 seconds with Google seeking it out, and analyzing it.

    I hope you'll do the same before rejecting it as you have.

    Hank
    30 years is a long time and I hope you would re-calibrate as new data arrives but, if you believe their numbers, there have been no improvements for women in the last 3 decades.

    So since you have all that experience analyzing this issue let's keep it simple - are you claiming science academia is sexist?
    I guess I should clarify. I began looking at the data 30 years ago. Since it was put online in the 90s, I look at the updates each year. The most recent data, the link I included in my comment on your original post, was to the data from the 2010 survey.

    To answer your question about science academia, my answer is yes. But it is not solely based on the BLS data, although I find that consistent and clear, but also anecdotally based on the experiences of many women scientists that I witnessed first hand over 40 years, all of whom worked longer hours than their male colleagues, published more, and yet were denied tenure or driven out after they'd attained it by some very unethical people who knew how to play academic politics. If these women were guilty of anything, it was focusing too much on their work and classes, and not enough on campus politics. They may have been politically naive, but they were certainly not slackers, and they most certainly never put their personal lives before their professional ones.

    By the way, if you want to see the government data that was used by the AAUW to support the article you seem to have dismissed out of hand, it is available at http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/statedata/upload/stem_data.pdf

    Hank
    Environmentalists are the most sexist group in STEM, according to AAUW.   That's interesting.  And mechanical engineers are the least sexist.  Anecdotally, I would have predicted the opposite.
    Mr. Campbell, I believe one of the reasons why people might have suggested Dr. Tyson be a pro athlete is because I don't think anyone knows any rich scientists, regardless of talent/ability. It is probably a suggestion in hopes of great financial success for him.

    In fact, most people outside of the sciences would be hard pressed to name many living scientists (Einstein, Sagan, Newton tend to be typical names, but are all dead). Try it with people you meet on the street -- ask them to name a scientist. Then after they likely say "Einstein" suggest they name a living scientist. The results will be like Jay Leno's Jaywalking segments.

    Hank
    That's a good point.  I was in a television production meeting yesterday and the literate, intelligent group I was in could name "Nova" as a science show but the only host name they knew was Alan Alda.   Obviously not a scientist and instead a well-known actor with a keen interest in science.

    I assume people would nod their heads and go "oh, yeah!" if they were stumped and I mentioned Stephen Hawking.  He seems to have good name recognition, even among people with no interest in science, though obviously Einstein's is unreal.
    twicker
    Re: Alan Alda: note that he's also not the host of NOVA; he's the host of Scientific American Frontiers.
    And none of them came up with Carl Sagan? Must've been a bunch of young'uns.
    Hank
    They knew Alda hosted something and they knew Nova was a show.  Sagan is dead so he was not an example of a current host we could use as a reference point.  To people outside science, that is about as much as I expected.  I suspect a lot of people would be along that line.  Maybe they would think Ghost Labs is science, or Mythbusters.

    Basically, science on TV is not great.  Maybe Tyson can become a Sagan-type name now that he is doing a "Cosmos" sequel.
    I agree with you that women are being hired more often than men for new faculty positions, but when you look at the retention and tenure rates, you'll find that most of those women are denied tenure, while most of the men are not. Women are also hired more often than men for non tenure track positions, and many of the women denied tenure become lecturers.

    What studies show that in childless women the gaps disappear? The statistics I've seen do not show that. Since most overtime is assigned, not volunteered, I would say that the hours work gap the chart you display shows is more likely the result of a bias on behalf giving men more time as they "have families to support" while employers often see women as just supplying supplemental family income.

    By the way, who is it that considers Iceland a model of fairness? I've certainly never heard such a statement until you made it.

    rholley
    In Britain, we sometimes like to use German words, and here’s a very useful one: Gutmenschen.  Here is a slightly tidied Google translation from linked German Wikipedia article.

    Gutmensch is the ironic reversal of the literal meaning of a word into its opposite, namely a generally pejorative meant designation for individuals or groups ("do-gooders"), which you attribute "goodness" or "goody-ness" as excessive moralizing or naive behavior is assumed. In the political rhetoric Gutmensch is used as a rallying cry.

    Users of the term apply it to persons or groups with a pronounced moral attitude or a misguided dubious behavior. The term also refers to the difference between 'well intentioned' [as opposed to] 'well done'. A do-gooder wants to have good intentions to solve specific problems or improve the world. His actions or the means used are, in the eyes of those who use the term do-gooder negative, doubtful, mainly because supposedly one-sided view of a problem, the lack of objectivity or the good people of ignorance of the facts. Gutmensch is often associated with terms such as Pharisees and hypocrites, since the mid-1990s and the term "political correctness" and understood as an accusation, which appears dramatically as "terror-gooders". In the public use of language it is used throughout as a negative connotation foreign name. An often ironic, "loving" use is found mostly only in private conversations, for example, "the heart in the right spot have" generous behavior or "exaggerated" altruism.


    The issue of race (which has been raised in the comments) is an example of the harm they have done in Britain.  Because of a perceived bias in the way that police were stopping and searching relatively more black youths than white, our constabulary are tending to employ a hands-off attitude.  This has resulted in an excess of young black men being murdered by gangs of black youths.  Many of the murdered appear to be from recently arrived African families, and I have the suspicion that their assailants are locally born black gang members who have got out of control due to Gutmenschtum in our media and judiciary.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    I'd just like to thank folks like Bill Chapman and Hontas Farmer for engaging Hank with citations and cool dialogue rather than reacting with anger. Some of Hank's comments (e.g., "The opposite is true - I actually get exposed to more instances of discrimination because I am a white guy and people who are going to be biased will be more honest about it around me than you.") are half a hair's width from trolling. Thanks for raising the level of dialogue, folks, and for trying to show Hank the details and context that he was missing. Hank, thanks for your efforts to judge by numbers rather than by anecdotes, but don't discount personal experience. Do you have data suggesting that white guys know more about discrimination than any other group, or are you citing an anecdote to make a point? People who have to live with a problem are going to know more about it than you. Don't be childish.

    - Long-time lurker, first-time poster

    Hank
    I was saying that clever bigots are not going to be bigots around the people they dislike - do white people get discrimination?  Sure, in a follow-up article the very first comment was that we - all of us - had 'white male privilege' so data meant less when used by us.   Imagine if a physicist told a woman her data was invalid because she was a woman and couldn't possibly understand it.  Data is data but you do the same thing - a personal experience by a woman invalidates labor statistics for the entire USA.

    I have seen lots of racism because people are more likely to be racist around others of their own kind. I am sure blacks and hispanics who don't like it can make the same observation - but I have not seen/heard/witnessed sexism despite being a male who has spent a lot of time around academics.   Is there going to be data to support my contention that I have seen racism from people who show none outwardly toward minorities but I have seen no sexism from academics?   No, but you don't need data, you just said, personal experience is good enough.   Having a different standard for me would be discrimination.
    That was well argued, Hank. I'd thought you were making a more general claim; thanks for taking the time to clarify.

    You've got it wrong Hank, the personal experiences of women confirm the labor statistics for the entire USA. It seems that you're projecting the Proofiness you're exhibiting onto others.

    Hank
    That's always a possibility but for it to be so, I would have to have had an agenda to have some proofiness about.  I am not creating some AAUM organization, I am not in academia or a scientist, I saw claims that looked odd to me - that women had not made any progress in 30 years despite numbers in a hundred articles here and elsewhere saying things were much better.  So I investigated how the advocacy groups arrived at it - the way people are supposed to look skeptically at bad use of statistics - and pointed out the numerous flaws and blatant manipulation.

    So now the argument in comments has changed to be personal anecdotes count more than the statistics which have been shown to be rigged and people have moved from proofiness to truthiness.  It's a wonderful ploy because it means any man who disputes it can be dismissed as having 'privilege' and any woman is a self-loathing pawn unless they agree - it's terrible logic but I get it is a hot-button issue and some people lose their minds.  I certainly hope the people doing it are more rigorous in their science fields than they are when it comes to social science junk statistics they happen to like.
    Take some time to read and consider the report at this link Hank. It is the final 2008 report of the Gender Equity Task Force at the University of Texas, Austin. Not much anecdote there.

    http://www.utexas.edu/provost/research/FinalReportoftheGende.pdf

    By the way, over the past 40 years I've observed quite of bit of male sexism in science departments at several CA universities; often demonstrations of raw power. If you've failed to see the same, I suspect that your biases are blinding you.

    Hank
    Well, no, I can't imagine I am more sensitive about racism than I am sexism.   As I mentioned, I have seen plenty of racism from people who do not exhibit it outwardly because we shared a common color, yet I have seen no men in academia exhibit sexism despite me being a man and being around a lot of them in relaxed environments.  Obviously your experience is different but that is not the kind of controlled evidence you would expect if someone were making a claim about your integrity.  

    So we can't label academic men as sexist (or not) based on our personal experiences.  It is too subjective.  The data don't show sexism, though they show differences - in some cases weighted toward men and some toward women.   There may be no easy answer and the problem with social sciences is they want to show cause and effect for everything and that is not always possible.     Some people are evil, some people are racist - that does not mean the post office is evil because one of their employees shoots the place up, nor is academia sexist because some people are assholes.
    Hank, I've observed science faculty at several universities in CA over the past 40 years. I've seen plenty of male sexism and raw exertions of power against women faculty.

    Here is a link to the 2008 Final Report of the Gender Equity Task Force at University of Texas, Austin. Take some time to read and consider it.

    http://www.utexas.edu/provost/research/FinalReportoftheGende.pdf

    Hank
    Thanks, but it actually makes the point I was making - I never said there was no disaprity historically that is still reflected in gross numbers, I said there is no sexism.   Nationwide, that report shows that even in 2006 when they compiled those numbers, women were 41% of tenure-track faculty across all fields.   It's gone up since then across all fields, including the ones where women were dominant even then.   

    There is disparity, I agree, but that doesn't mean we can blame progressive academic men as being secretly sexist.   The numbers I used regarding TT hiring also come with a qualification - I stated that women are hired more often than men for tenure track jobs but that is when they apply.  They apply less than men in some fields - some will say that is choice and some will say that is because of a hostile environment, the problem is that there are just as many anecdotes on both sides for that one.

    The 'family friendly' claim in the UT I agree with, in my gut (there is no evidence, including in that study, so guts are what we have) - the private sector is much better about family-friendly policies than academia, studies show, and, since I have never worked in academia, I have no anecdotes for bias other than that having been part of the hiring process for too many PhDs to count I can tell you not only did we never discriminate against someone because of gender or race, if anything we paid more - but that is because we had to fill out government paperwork showing we had the right minorities so anyone qualified who also met the technical requirement got a lot of competition from companies.   We never hired someone less qualified over someone more, that is a at least good news, but we overpaid for someone who let us check off a little box.   Claims of reverse discrimination have a case there, especially Indians and Asians, since they were not the right minorities yet were clearly more minorities than anyone on that list of government boxes.

    What no one has offered to do, and someone should, is to make a real case for the differences and write an article here on what it means. Not fuzzy anecdotes and not manipulated data like AAUW but controlled statistics - the numbers themselves are not going to raise an outcry, 95 cents to the dollar instead of 80 cents to the dollar won't be outrage, but the reasons why any disparity at all exists, without shrill invocations of evil progressive men oppressing women but more insidious things like a family policy, well, I think that would do some good.
    Well, you reject the UT data (from a 3 year old paper) and the BLS data (which is 1 year old). Both are solid. It is clear to me that you are not interested in data here, but in propagating your biases. Rest assured that this will be my last comment on your blog.

    Hank, I wonder whether you and other posters might be talking past each other because of a confusion about ultimate and proximal causes. You're observing that you see no evidence of proximal sexism in academia (e.g., the discussions of how "'Recent research suggests that women are less likely to initiate negotiation than men, and when they do negotiate for salaries, they make lower salary demands,' which is again not sexism on the part of academia;" your mentions that, while as some people had seen sexist demonstrations of "raw power", you had not; and your premise, which was to confirm or disconfirm claims of sexism specifically in academia.). Some posters may be taking issue because, to many people, the word "sexism" refers to the system of ultimate causes that produce inequalities, and that system is obviously evident in the data at hand. Individual academics might be less to blame than, say, a certain teacher in elementary school or the lifestyle of the adults who happened to take an interest in the child at an early age. That's not an argument intended to rest on some notion of female impressionability or what have you. It's not that women are easily influenced; humans are easily influenced. Spend a few days at a childrens' day camp thinking about observational learning and gender roles and you'll learn more than by any adult self-report data!

    In any case, I wonder whether hasty assumptions about definitions enabled this argument. It's perfectly possible to see evidence of sexism's ultimate causes -- for instance, the learning environments that motivate some women to request parental leave, make lower salary demands, or seek fewer hours moreso than men -- while agreeing that sexism specifically residing within academia is not one of the proximal causes of the trends discussed here.

    Hank
    You may have a point, sure, but if the AAUW and similar groups call it sexism we have to give them credit (these are all educated people) for knowing what words mean and using them intentionally.   I certainly agree that a variety of causes could be at work but it seems unfair to lump it all at the feet of society or men or academia or physics or whatever.    Certainly the compounded nature of all those things may add up to the difference but people want to blame their favorite pet cause.

    If we blame K-12 education, for example, how can we we not note that 70% of teachers are women?  If we start a slippery slope contending that female teachers are enforcing stereotype threat attitudes in young women, well, it never ends.    We do see that male and female math scores are finally at parity - improvements have been made.   But if detractors instead average out the last 30 years of math scores, like they do for gender and wages in jobs, then it still looks like female scores are lower.

    I don't think it's fair to continue to insist the problem is still as bad as its made out to be when the rate of females in STEM goes up every year (women are 48% of math students now) and faculty jobs show no bias in hiring.    If we only go by wages, then we are stuck - it means we have to have a uniform pay policy regardless of qualifications to crush an issue that is dwindling anyway. A uniform pay policy will drive the best people out of science academia because no one wants to be told they have to be paid the same as someone less successful because it is only 'fair'.