The thing about that Google diversity memo was that his science was right

Watching the firestorm over that Google diversity memo and flap has been illuminating for it would appear that large parts of the world are unable to comprehend fairly simple ideas. Or perhaps it's that large portions of people simply do not wish to comprehend. Owen Jones denouncing it all as sexism for example, but he's by far from the only culprit.

The important point here being that that memo did get the basic science right. As scientists in the field point out here, as is exhaustively discussed here and as even The Guardian was willing to print 12 years back.

Across the populations of men and women there are differences in the propensity for, interest in, certain jobs - even, certain interests in life in general. This tells us absolutely nothing useful about any individual as individual variation is far greater than this difference in general propensity. In very loose terms here the claim is that any individual man or woman, or any other variation, may or may not have the talents and interests that lead to being a good engineer. We would also expect to find more such among men than among women. And that's it really. This is also the result of the best science we've got at the moment so it would be worthwhile to understand it as we consider the world out there.

The implication of this is that people who hire for a certain specific talent may well find that their available hiring pool skews one way or the other on gender. That would, not unnaturally, lead to a skew in the workforce.

It's entirely true that it doesn't have to be this way. People can always, if they really want to, hire on strict 50/50 gender grounds although we would point out that in most places this is illegal, it's discrimination upon the grounds of gender.

However, we would go on and point out that all of this is also true of the gender pay gap itself. This exists not because men and women doing the same job are differently paid, but because there's a certain self-selection into different jobs. That gender pay gap is only going to disappear when all jobs, at all levels, are done by a gender balanced workforce. This is a point we've made many a time before.

And that's the really important point about this, why it's so important to understand the science rather than rail about it. At least some of this disparity of outcome - we would claim much of it but that's not necessary for the argument to work - is coming from self-selection, not the imposition of discrimination from the outside. Or, as we might put it, the outcome is a result of people deciding how they'd like to live their own lives.

And why are we complaining about that?