What are we Thinking – The Issue of the ‘White Male’
“I’m tired of living in a white male dominated world.” Said a PhD educated “white male” on a linked in post I came across the other day.
The post itself was a straw man argument about people who say that forced parity of gender or race on the boards of companies will compromise those board’s quality.
I’ll let you read it in all it’s glory.
She is, of course, right in saying that having women on the board of a company – qualified women who are best for the role – is in no way going to lessen the quality of the company.
What she fails to address however, is that no one is arguing against having women in board positions.
Rarely will anyone with any intellectual integrity say that balanced gender boards lessen the integrity of the company. They will however, say that quotas forcing parity – not based on qualification but based solely on gender (something that, like race, should be completely irrelevant to one’s capability in a given role) – is what will most likely lessen the integrity of that board.
The fact that a board is all women, or all men, half and half, low-fat or homogenized shouldn’t matter at all. What is important in a business, or any organization, is that the best people available are leading it. The best individuals.
I was curious to see what the responses of the 125 commenters were. I thought maybe there would be some lively debate over this fairly obvious straw man argument, and was actually hoping I could learn something on either side of the debate, some new information, some new knowledge that could help me understand why there is even an issue here.
Most of the comments however were simple agreements, with some women writing their IQ scores to prove that they are smart and capable, and others balking at the notion of the “horrific Neanderthals” that would oppose the idea of women’s ability to do anything a man can do in the business world.
There were a few brave souls who responded with something similar to what I said above, about there being no other criteria than that the person is the best for the job. However, no one called out the argument itself for what it was, a straw man.
“A straw man argument is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man.” – Wikipedia
What really caught my attention though was a comment from a young, well educated man (I know this because he had “PhD” beside his name) who wrote,
“There are as many smart, talented, and qualified women out there as there are men. Suggesting anything else is offensive and regressive and it hurts us all. I’m tired of living in a white male dominated world.”
Now I thought that was quite the generalizing statement coming from a PhD especially considering that he was a data scientist and statistician, not the usual feminist dance theory, or gender studies graduate that his comment would have implied he be .
Now, to give him the benefit of the doubt, I see this kind of statement far too often and was quick to call out its glaring issues, while he might have very well been saying something off the cuff in support of the original post, and maybe he didn’t think through the totality of what was being said in his comment. You can see my replies here.
I asked these questions because I really do wonder sometimes if the social justice left’s obsession with “white males” is just a result of an extremely narrow view of the world. I wonder if it is a result of so many of its proponents being born and raised in western countries, and only experiencing the western world. Have they only seen businesses being run on this side of the world, the side where, let’s face it, the majority of the population is white?
The United States is 63.7% white as of the 2010 census that is 196,817,552 people, the next largest demographic is Black or African American at 12.2% if there are a lot of white people in any positions in the United States, it might be because there are simply a lot of white people living there.
Canada has similar statistics with the white population estimated at 75% (though some estimates say as high as 84%). I say estimated because Canada will not use words like “race” or “white” in their census taking, they will only tell how many people are a visible minority.
Lets not even get into the demographics of Europe, literally the birthplace of the people who tend to have lower amounts of melanin in their skin.
The whole idea of racism is wrong, the idea of judging people on aspects of themselves that they have no control over is just ridiculous. I’m going to commit what many would consider a “microaggression” here (who am I kidding, to those kinds of people this entire article is one massive micro aggression…does that count as a macro aggression then?), but as Martin Luther King said, we must judge by the content of a person’s character, that is how we get past this specter of racism.
Being racist towards a group of people (in this case white men) in an attempt to fix racism, or stop racism is just ridiculous. We don’t stop racism by being more racist, we stop racism by extolling the virtues of those who are being discriminated against. Fire does not put out fire and hate does not end hate, it perpetuates it.
Right now, with this kind of thoughtless (as I assume is what happened in this case) racist rhetoric is not going to make the world a more harmonious or better place for any of us, it’s going to drag us into places we don’t want to go.
So, I waited with bated breath for his response, I was truly hoping to see what interesting counter argument he brought, to support his position on white men and why he was tired of a world in which (according to him) they dominate.
His response was:
And that is the point, it’s far too acceptable for politicians, celebrities, media and academia to use “white men” as the reason for all sorrows, to use that concept as a focus point for all their grievances, seemingly without thought to what message is implicit in their words.
The “white men are evil” narrative comes from radical, racist fringe activists, and yet so many in the mainstream have bought into using it seemingly without realizing the dire consequences (on top of the blatant racism.)
If we bought into every radical idea in the same way then meat would be murder, ISIS and Sharia law would be the standard in mainstream thought, we would have chemtrail warning days (keep your kids inside there are several chemtrails over the city today), we’d be discussing the eating habits of the aliens in area 51, and feminist studies would be an actual academic field…oh wait. Ok strike that last one, we will talk about the dubious peer-review system used by feminist academia in a future article, but I hope you see my point.
There is an aspect of this I’d like to discuss though, since the good doctor did not bring this up, I will.
It could be argued that when people say “a world dominated by white men” they mean the fact that 94% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are white and 92% are men, now this doesn’t take into account that “white” includes women and “men” includes non-white men, but since the percentage is so high anyways we will gloss over that.
These statistics are what many in the social justice crowd would site to prove their point (I don’t mean only the activists and students but also their professors, many humanities departments, media pundits, and the crew over at the Huffington Post).
One of the first things to remember is that we are talking about the leaders of the 500 largest companies in the world, this does not represent the majority of business owners or even of CEO’s, it is a favored focal point for the social justice crowd because as the leaders of the 500 largest companies there is real power that lies in the hands of these CEO’s and that’s what all this seems to be about for them, power.
The real issue that many take with this kind of idea is the identity politics of it all. it seems like it’s immensely important that the board of a fortune 500 company is gender equal, yet no one is going after mining laborer jobs, or trash collection forcing women into those roles for the sake of gender parity. It’s only the “glossy jobs” (CEO, management roles, etc.) that seem to be the targets.
What’s interesting about that however is that the number of women in CEO positions and on boards is growing.
The vast majority of fortune 500 companies are U.S. companies. Though the Asian market is growing at an incredible rate, the majority of global corporations are still “western” based, and primarily U.S. based. As the companies in emerging markets (China, India, etc.) grow, we are going to see a natural change in CEO demographics, I’d be willing to put money on that.
One thing that I think is missed in this entire topic is that it’s not a bad thing that a company’s CEO is white or a man, it also wouldn’t be a bad thing if 94% of CEO’s were Black, or Asian, or Latino, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were 94% women or men, as long as they are doing the job properly and have a diverse enough (thought and experience wise) group to advise them.
The entire argument is such a fallacy, it’s the idea that things have to look a certain way rather than letting the market decide, or in this case letting these companies decide who is best for their own futures. The addition of morality to a statistic like this is misleading. Why would it be better for 94% of fortune 500 CEO’s to be non-white and non-male, does it matter if the CEO is a mixed-race gay woman, or a straight white male? It shouldn’t for any intents or purposes, as long as they can do the job that is required why should it matter.
What I think many people in the work force don’t realize is that any company or organization, in fact in any role a person plays in life there is a trade-off of value.
A company has a mission its trying to achieve, and they hire people based on their need for that position to be filled so that a certain aspect of the business is well taken care of.
This is why people are hired based on qualifications, experience, or certain knowledge. Running a multi national corporation is no simple task (once you get past the Dunning-Kruger effect its easy to see that this kind of role is not one that just anyone could effectively do).
The purpose of a CEO is to increase value for the shareholders of a company, believe me, if in the next 20 years it turns out that women statistically increase shareholder value to a greater degree than men, then you’ll see CEO demographics reflect that.
But, if that were to happen, I’d be willing to bet that you won’t hear a single voice in media, academia, or the social justice crowd pushing for a parity of more men in those positions or equal parts men and women on those boards.
Rather than having the social justice crowd dictating what’s best for a company they have no involvement in, why don’t we just let these organizations pick the people they believe will do the best job, regardless of gender and race.