Should the government restrict men’s participation in STEM fields?

Hans Bader from the Competitive Enterprise Institute is concerned about politics being injected into science.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Quotas limiting the number of male students in science may be imposed by the Education Department in 2013. The White House has promised that “new guidelines will also be issued to grant-receiving universities and colleges” spelling out “Title IX rules in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.” These guidelines will likely echo existing Title IX guidelines that restrict men’s percentage of intercollegiate athletes to their percentage in overall student bodies, thus reducing the overall number of intercollegiate athletes. (Under the three-part Title IX test created by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work, colleges are allowed to temporarily comply by increasing the number of female athletes rather than cutting the number of male athletes, but the only viable permanent way to comply with its rule is to restrict men’s participation relative to women’s participation, reducing overall participation.) Thus, as Charlotte Allen notes, the Obama administration’s guidelines are likely to lead to “science quotas” based on gender.

[…]Obama hinted that Title IX quotas would soon come to engineering and techology, saying that “Title IX isn’t just about sports,” but also about “inequality in math and science education” and “a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it.”

What causes more men to go into the STEM fields than women?

Gender disparities in a major are not the product of sexism, but rather the differing preferences of men and women. The fact that engineering departments are filled mostly with men does not mean they discriminate against women anymore than the fact that English departments are filled mostly with women proves that English departments discriminate against men. The arts and humanities have well over 60 percent female students, yet no one seems to view that gender disparity as a sign of sexism against men. Deep down, the Obama administration knows this, since it is planning to impose its gender-proportionality rules only on the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), not other fields that have similarly large gender disparities in the opposite direction.

Many women are quite capable of mastering high-level math and science, but simply don’t find working in such a field all that interesting. As Dr. Sommers notes, many “colleges already practice affirmative action for women in science,” rather than discriminating against them. Susan Pinker, a clinical psychologist, chronicled cases of women who “abandoned successful careers in science and engineering to work in fields like architecture, law and education,” because they wanted jobs that involved more interaction with people, “not because they had faced discrimination in science.” Far from being discouraged by society from pursuing a career in math or science, these women had been strongly encouraged to pursue such a  a career: “Once they showed aptitude for math or physical science, there was an assumption that they’d pursue it as a career even if they had other interests or aspirations. And because these women went along with the program and were perceived by parents and teachers as torch bearers, it was so much more difficult for them to come to terms with the fact that the work made them unhappy.”

As Susan Pinker notes, “A mountain of published research stretching back a hundred years shows that women are far more likely than men to be deeply interested in organic subjects—people, plants and animals—than they are to be interested in things and inanimate systems, such as electrical engineering, or computer systems.”

Is this good for our economy? Should we be discouraging the best male students who want to study science and engineering to do their education abroad in Canada or Europe? Should women be steered into careers that may make it harder for them to have families and raise their children?

8 thoughts on “Should the government restrict men’s participation in STEM fields?”

  1. This is such a joke it’s unbelievable. The disparity is already horrible in college: usually at least 55-60% female to 45-40% male. And now they want to change things for the worse. And these majors are what people choose. They are people’s preferences. You can’t just mandate something for people to like.

    It’s bad enough that any gal who wants to major in engineering will get in, and then quite often change their major. This will just ensure the further destruction of our economy – the long term consequences will be less innovation and less able bodied workers.

    This is so frustrating. It is the continuing push of feminism through everything. It’s bad enough that every faculty opening I see says at the bottom: minorities and women are especially encouraged to apply. And that they are already have these biases in undergraduate admission. This is just the icing on the cake.

    This will ensure an Obama legacy: total tank of our current economy, and ensuring the weakness of our future economy.


  2. Does this still have to be passed in congress
    Hopefully republicans can stop it
    What do you think will happen to boys who do not get in their desired course in spite of their higher mark

    Also your blog is awesome!!


    1. No, the article seems to be saying that this depends only on new regulations’ being issued by the executive branch (“The White House has promised that ‘new guidelines will also be issued'”, “may be imposed by the Education Department in 2013”, etc.). So Congress doesn’t have to approve them—but Congress could act to stop them. (Unfortunately, Democrats currently control the Senate.)

      Actually, I’d like to see Congress abolish the federal Department of Education altogether.


  3. I think they’re nuts. When I attend engineering classes where there are about 5 girls and 30 guys, I don’t entertain the idea that what the class needs is less people. Suggesting that the number of girls in the class be increased is one thing, but suggesting the the number of guys be reduced is ridiculous.


  4. This is a consequence of tax and spend economics. It was sold to us under the promise that it would help everyone afford education. Turns out, it is being used to increase government control by allowing the central government to deny funding to the non-compliant.


  5. As a former female engineer, I stridently believe that the specter of affirmative action is bad enough already. Look at “Mysterious C”‘s comment: “any girl who wants to major in engineering will get in.” Not true at all, but a bunch of men think it’s true because it’s a pleasant fiction.

    (Women who apply to engineering have a higher admissions rate, but they also have a higher retention rate once in, and have higher stats than their male peers. Generally, only very talented women apply, but mediocre men have enough self-confidence to apply for the toughest major out there.)


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