Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably
During World War I, seven of the medical schools attached to the University of London decided to start admitting female students, as did Oxford and Edinburgh University. But by 1928, five of these London colleges had decided to stop admitting women, with the other two heavily restricting female numbers. Oxford voted for a ratio of no more than one female for every six males. Male academics and students were concerned that the presence of female students, let alone staff, would “alter the character of the teaching” and lead to “feminine government” of universities [Discussed in Education, by Carol Dyhouse, in Women in Twentieth Century Britain, 2014.] In other words, the “masculine” dimension to academia—rigorously, unemotionally and coldly examining facts and arguments—would be wrecked by the increasing presence of emotional and over-empathetic girls.
As females increasingly take over Western universities, now constituting the majority of students in the USA [Why Do Women Outnumber Men in College?, NBER Working Paper No. 12139, January 2007 ], it is becoming clear that these skeptics were right.
A recent column by Christopher DeGroot looked how feminization is destroying academia. [The University of Narcissism, October 25, 2019] A recent video by British independent scientist “The Jolly Heretic”—Dr Edward Dutton—has gone even further, claiming that female dominance of universities is destroying the “genius” type that is critical to the generation of original ideas (This idea is developed further in The Genius Famine, by Edward Dutton & Bruce Charlton).
DeGroot highlighted the appalling case of Eric Thompson (pictured) of Moreno Valley College in California, who was ultimately fired for being what, in less female-dominated times, would have been described as a good academic. Three complaints were made against Thompson by his, naturally, Woke and mainly female students. Each was upheld.
In 2014, Thompson was naïve enough to chair a seminar on the “Nature vs Nurture” debate with regard to same-sex attraction. This is indeed very much a “debate” because 60% of the variance in male sexuality is to do with environment, in contrast to 80% of the variance in female sexuality [The evolution of human female sexual orientation, by A. Jeffrey et al., Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2019]. But Thompson’s presenting both sides of the argument mortified some of his students, who hold to the Politically Correct dogma that everything is caused by environment except sexual orientation, which is supposedly 100% genetic.
In 2015, DeGroot reports, Thompson, still foolishly believing he should teach students to explore the evidence, chaired a seminar on the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, again presenting both sides of the argument. In this case, the complainant maintained that, simply by presenting the other side of the argument, Thompson was effectively “targeting” LGBTQ students and even “placing them at risk” of abuse or psychological damage. Their “precious feelings,” to quote de Groot, far outweighed students’ rights to have an in-depth understanding of an important debate.
Finally, Thompson gave a D-grade to a lesbian. She complained that he’d done this because she was a lesbian. He emailed her, explaining the situation calmly, after she’d complained. But in doing so, he violated a bureaucratic “no contact order,” reached his “third strike” and was dismissed. (This was so obviously unjust that he has actually been reinstated by a court (twice) but the college is still appealing the reinstatement—College furious after non-woke professor reinstated, by Bob Kellogg, OneNewsNow, August 6, 2019.
DeGroot presents a reasonable argument about how this fundamental change in the university environment—from a place where all ideas are freely debated, to a “safe space” for the feelings of irrational people—occurred. In order to calmly debate all ideas, you need to put emotion aside. But females are simply less able to do that than males because they are higher in Neuroticism—feeling negative feelings strongly. Thus, they more easily become overwhelmed by negative feelings, precluding them from logical thought. (Data on personality traits is drawn from Personality, By Daniel Nettle, 2007).
Similarly, new ideas, or being contradicted, will likely upset some people. But, in the pursuit of academic debate, you have to ignore this and calmly present both sides. However, this is more difficult for females, because they are more sympathetic, meaning that “not hurting people’s feelings” can become their highest ideal. Higher in Conscientiousness (“rule-following”) and lower in intellectual curiosity than males, females are also more conformist. This means they are less able to understand that, in academia, the truth is ever more closely reached by being non-conformist—by questioning the current “truth.”
Thus, argues DeGroot, female domination of academia will seriously damage academia as a place where ideas can be seriously debated.
Ed Dutton, in a video entitled “Do Female Reduce Male Per Capita Genius?” takes this critique of feminism even further. He argues that geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and moderately low Conscientiousness. This means they are clever enough to solve a difficult problem, but being low in rule-following, they can also “think outside the box,”. And, being low in Agreeableness, they don’t care about offending people, which original ideas always do.
An aspect of Agreeableness is empathy—being concerned with the feelings of others and being able to guess what they might be. Dutton shows that people who are high in “systematizing” (which males typically are compared to females, with systematizing being vital to problem solving) tend to be low in empathy. Thus, Dutton argues, you don’t get many women geniuses because their IQ range is more bunched towards the mean; and also because they are too high in Agreeableness and Consciousness.
Universities, traditionally dominated by males, have in essence been about giving geniuses a place in which they can attempt to solve their problems, working at their chosen problems for years on end. But Dutton argues that female academics tend to be the “Head Girl Type” (chief prefect at all-girls schools in the UK) with “normal range” high IQ and high in Conscientiousness and Agreeableness—the exact opposite of a typical genius. Accordingly, once you allow females into academia, they will be promoted over genius males because they come across as better people to work with—more conscientious, easier to be around and more socially skilled. But this will tend to deny geniuses the place of nurture they need.
As females come to dominate, the culture of academia will feminize. High in Conscientiousness, women will create a rule-governed bureaucracy where research occurs through incremental steps and a certain number of publications must be presented every few years, rather than through genius breakthroughs. But geniuses typically work on huge problems for years. So this bureaucracy will make it impossible for them to do this and keep their jobs.
Women will also create a culture of co-operative “research groups,” anathema to the kind of anti-social loners who tend towards genius. And females will, of course, tend to create an atmosphere of emotion and empathy, the enemy of the unemotional, coldly systematic style of the genius—and, traditionally, of academia.
In this atmosphere, “not causing offence” will become much more important. But genius breakthroughs are only made, ultimately, by causing offence.
Dutton argues that universities began as religious institutions, and geniuses believed that their aim was to uncover the nature of God’s creation. To lie was, therefore, “blasphemy” and nothing was more important than “Truth.”
This focus on “Truth” carried over into the twentieth century, consistent with the male focus on “systematizing” which research by Simon Baron-Cohen has highlighted [The extreme male brain theory of autism, by Simon Baron-Cohen. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2002]. But the female focus on “empathy over truth” has subverted this.
Dutton argues that feminization will drive genius-types out of universities, perhaps taking us back to the situation in the early nineteenth century, when such people were often independent scholars who had patrons or who were independently wealthy.
Ultimately, Dutton concludes, there should be far fewer women at universities, though he suggests that “religious women”—who will believe that lying about God’s creation is blasphemy—should be permitted in small numbers to carry out the kind of incremental science in which those who are high in Conscientiousness excel.
In other words, just as Oxford University decreed in 1927, females should be a select minority of students.
I have written previously of the possibility of the higher education bubble bursting—indirectly because of the increasing “Wokeness,” and thus practical uselessness, of universities. Female dominance is part of the reason for this possibility.
Perhaps we need separate universities for males and females. They could socialize on campus, but they shouldn’t be in the same seminars or even academic departments. Of course, this was actually the case in the nineteenth century, with Harvard and Radcliffe and Columbia and Barnard College.
This divide is currently enforced—without the socializing—in some Islamic countries.
Lance Welton [email him] is the pen name of a freelance journalist living in New York.
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