‘A’ For Effort

Ah, Diversity. How its worship enriches us!

It doesn’t, of course. But it does, at least, make for some last-minute entertainment, here on the deck of the Titanic.

There are some areas of human activity that lie forever beyond the reach of heartfelt wishes and fond imaginings: places where reality is still there even after you stop believing in it. One of these, for example, is competitive sports — where a runner’s velocity is still, stubbornly and implacably, distance over time. Another is engineering — which is difficult, and which makes certain non-negotiable demands. To build a bridge, or send an aircraft aloft, requires skills, talents and aptitudes that, whether we like it or not, are no more evenly distributed among the sexes and races than upper-body strength or fleetness of foot. You can rail against this all you like — and I’m sure some of you will rail against me for pointing it out. But when you’re done, there it is, nonetheless.

This means that places that do a lot of engineering are going to be staffed, very disproportionately, by members of certain population groups, and by males. For the sort of work that requires truly elite mathematical and spatial skills, the effect is going to be very noticeable indeed. This is a matter — not entirely, perhaps, but nearly so — of cold, hard statistics having to do with distributions of cognitive and behavioral traits. (As we must always point out, none of this tells you anything about any individual person. Seven-foot-tall men are far more common than seven-foot-tall women, but that doesn’t mean that they tower over them. Brilliant engineers, likewise, can be of any sex or race.)

This variety of trait-distribution is a real problem for companies like Google and Apple, who would — believe me! — like nothing better than to be able to make splendidly and durably engineered products with a workforce consisting largely, and ostentatiously, of females, blacks, Hispanics, and others likewise crushed by arbitrary forces of vile oppression. Sadly, though, the stubborn realities of the actually existing world require them to make a choice — and their having chosen good engineering over optics means that their technical staff is overwhelmingly white or Asian, and male.

This is a terrible predicament, and so they do what they can. Reality isn’t going anywhere, though, which leaves them little else to work with but theater, and spin. And so we have this news item, in which Apple’s black female Diversity chief attempts to convince her audience that if you squinch up your eyes just right, you can see Diversity anywhere — even among, for example, twelve blue-eyed, fair-haired males. You can imagine how that went over.

Mind you, in a more orderly and homogeneous (but I repeat myself!) society, such a group might, in fact, seem quite diverse. One might be a Calvinist, another a Catholic. One might be trim and athletic, another fat and flabby. One might play the bassoon, while another is putting together a Cannibal Corpse tribute band. They might vary enormously in temperament, style, political opinions, levels of education and wealth, and a thousand affinities and aversions. After all, the only things held constant here are hair color, eye color, and sex.

Ha! None of that matters, not at all. There are boxes to be checked here, comrade. Needless to say, the gambit was a failure, and the unfortunate spokeswoman was made to apologize. The problem, however, isn’t going anywhere: companies that do engineering are still going to face the same stubborn realities, and the same impossible demands.

Pass the popcorn!

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8 Comments

  1. Very well put, Malcolm.

    It occurs to me that companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft could well afford to institute a Department of Diversity within their respective corporations, whose members’ job description would comprise meetings and discussions about “diversity in the workplace”. Each member of such a department would have an identical salary and position, and the membership would represent, as closely as humanly possible, the diversity of the American population.

    I would consider applying for such a job. I could represent the portion of the population who are white, Jewish, male, retired-physicist, bridge players.

    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  2. More diversity:

    “Researchers in Chicago assessed exercise patterns over the course of 25 years and made the surprising discovery that very active white men are 86 percent more likely to experience a buildup of plaque in the heart arteries by middle age.

    But this didn’t apply to black men, they discovered.” [emphasis added]

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4988992/Too-exercise-kill-white-man.html#ixzz4vsqcsihT

    No wonder white men can’t jump!

    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink
  3. Whitewall says

    When it comes to diversity, it may be a race to see if bad “progressive” public policy can outrun bad “progressive” excuses for failure.

    Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  4. Richard says

    Never doubt the impact of your condensed clear and brilliantly written insight. I’m sharing this with a lesbian at work who thought it was important to point out to me that the tri hospital management CEO’s were at last all female and that obviously women were better than men. (She has assumed that Jodi was a female,wrong) Going to have fun tomorrow. Suggestions?

    Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Richard,

    Suggestions?

    Keep your hands in front of you.

    Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  6. Jimmy says

    It’s what makes damore so amusing…”you’re firing me for DEFENDING your hiring practices? So if I said Google is horrible and racist and sexist for hiring the people you do…you’d have given me a raise?”

    Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
  7. TBH, I think you mean “the portion of the population who are white, Jewish, male, retired-physicist, bridge players who have read The Bottomless Bottle of Beer.”

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  8. Yes, of course, HJH. That really nails my demographic!

    Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:07 pm | Permalink