In my Washington Examiner column, headlined "Google's 'tolerance' requires repression," I mentioned in one paragraph the strong evidence that societies that tend not to discriminate against women also tend to have greater differences between male and female behavior than those that do.
In the next paragraph, I cited the wide differences in choices of medical specialties between men and women medical school graduates. Ross Douthat devotes his entire New York Times column this week to "the divergence of the sexes," as he puts it, and not only in job choices. "The more officially egalitarian a society, a credible body of research suggests, the stronger the differences in stereotypically male and female personality traits."
Let me add a couple of random thoughts, reflecting on the last 40 to 50 years of observations of the American feminist movement.
First, there's a considerable body of public opinion research that shows women are less happy now than they were in the 1970s, and particularly unmarried women. Now that could simply represent changes in the definition of happiness over the years. But it's also consistent with the anger and rage evident in so much feminist talk.
Second, in the 1970s it seemed reasonable to believe that men's and women's clothing, or at least business clothing, styles would tend to converge. And there indeed has been some convergence. But women's pantsuits, even as they have evolved in many ways, don't much resemble men's business suits, which aren't very much different from those of the 1970s. Women evidently feel comfortable in social and business settings wearing sleeveless dresses and blouses; men don't go sleeveless just about anywhere but the beach.
I gather there are some biological differences, which might explain why women tend to be comfortable in certain clothing and men in another. But clothing choices do indeed seem more stereotypically male and female these days than I had expected they would be back in the olden days.
Third, one reason (not the main one) given for the demise of Hillary Clinton's healthcare proposals in 1993-94 was that her plan "would have required government approval of the medical specialties students could pursue based on race and gender." My own thought at the time was that I wouldn't like to be operated on by a surgeon who didn't want to be a surgeon but was forced to do so by government-imposed quota.
The data I cited in my Washington Examiner column on the differences between the sexes in choices of medical specialties suggests what a rotten idea gender quotas for specialties was (I should note that some have denied it was part of Clinton's plan); surely the physicians are happier and patients are better served by doctors who are pursuing the specialties they like.
Similarly, how great a tragedy is it that 80 percent of Google's coders are men and 80 percent of new veterinarians are women? Who is being hurt by that? It might make sense for employers to take steps to see that people are treated decently and not deterred from seeking positions which they would like and at which they might excel. But this status quo is likely both more economically productive and more maximizing of personal satisfaction than ham-handed efforts to get those 80 percents down to 50 percent. (Oh, and by the way, veterinarians on average make more money than computer programmers.)
Finally, Google — not just in response to James Damore's memo, but in its whole "diversity" program — is riddled with intellectual dishonesty. It has a very successful business, which tends to attract very high-skilled employees the large majority of whom happen to be male. It feels vulnerable to complaints by feminists and hostile action by government, and so its leaders make sure not to express any doubts about the dogma that any fair system would have a gender balance and ethnic makeup identical to that of the larger society.
Any hint of disbelief in the dogma would elicit torrents of abuse from the many Social Justice Warriors that Google, recruiting as it does from elite campuses, employs in large numbers. So, Google and other Silicon Valley firms spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on "diversity" programs in order to mollify them, even though these have made almost no perceptible difference in the heavily white-and-Asian-male character of its workforce. They have managed the considerable feat of being dishonest and ineffective at the same time, as this Wall Street Journal story indicates.
I'm tempted to say that Google could achieve gender equity if it used a small portion of its huge hoard of cash and bought up enough veterinary hospitals and clinics with their heavily female professional work force. A more mature response comes from Douthat, which can be summarized in the words marriage and children. In his own words:
"But since the usual way to reintegrate the sexes is to have them marry one another and raise kids, what Silicon Valley probably needs right now more than either workplace anti-microaggression training or an alt-right underground is a basic friendliness to family, pregnancy and child rearing.
"This is why the new Apple headquarters, which has a 100,000-square-foot fitness and wellness center but no child care center, is a more telling indicator of what really matters to Silicon Valley than all the professions of gender-egalitarianism that have followed James Damore's heretical comments about sex differences.
"Those differences, the real ones, have one common root: Women bear children; men do not. Figuring out how to respect that essential fact and all its implications, while also respecting the equality of the sexes, is one of the great challenges of our age. And it's because we are failing at it that the sexes have begun to go their separate ways."