Misogyny is supposedly rampant in modern society, but where, exactly, does it lurk? For decades, researchers have hunted for evidence of overt discrimination against women as well as subtler varieties, like “systemic sexism” or “implicit bias.” But instead of detecting misogyny, they keep spotting something else.
Consider a new study that is one of the most sophisticated efforts to analyze implicit bias. Previous researchers typically looked for it by measuring split-second reactions to photos of faces: how long it takes to associate each face with a positive or negative attribute. Some studies reported that whites are quicker to associate black faces with negative attributes, but those experiments often involved small samples of college students. For this study, a team of psychologists led by Paul Connor of Columbia University recruited a nationally representative sample of adults and showed them more than just faces. The participants saw full-body photos of men and women of different races and ages, dressed in outfits ranging from well-tailored suits and blazers to scruffy hoodies, T-shirts, and tank tops.
Who was biased against whom? The researchers found no consistent patterns by race or by age. The participants were quicker to associate negative attributes with people in scruffier clothes, but that bias was fairly small. Only one strong and consistent bias emerged. Participants in every category—men and women of all races, ages, and social classes—were quicker to associate positive attributes with women and negative attributes with men.
The participants were guilty not of misogyny but of its opposite: misandry, a bias against men. This study merely measured unconscious reactions, so it doesn’t prove that they’d discriminate against men. The many critics of implicit-bias research maintain that measures of people’s “unconscious racism” bear scant relation to their conscious behavior. But when it comes to detecting misandry, we don’t need to probe the unconscious to find it. There is overwhelming evidence of conscious, blatant, and widespread discrimination against boys and men in modern societies.
If you haven’t heard of this evidence, it’s because of the well-documented misandrist bias in the public discussion of gender issues. Scholars, journalists, politicians, and activists will lavish attention on a small, badly flawed study if it purports to find bias against women, but they’ll ignore—or work to suppress—the wealth of solid research showing the opposite. Three decades ago, psychologists identified the “women-are-wonderful effect,” based on research showing that both sexes tended to rate women more positively than men. This effect has been confirmed repeatedly—women get higher ratings than men for intelligence as well as competence—and it’s obvious in popular culture.
“Toxic masculinity” and “testosterone poisoning” are widely blamed for many problems, but you don’t hear much about “toxic femininity” or “estrogen poisoning.” Who criticizes “femsplaining” or pretends to “believe all men”? If the patriarchy really did rule our society, the stock father character in television sitcoms would not be a “doofus dad” like Homer Simpson, and commercials wouldn’t keep showing wives outsmarting their husbands. (When’s the last time you saw a TV husband get something right?) Smug misandry has been box-office gold for Barbie, which delights in writing off men as hapless romantic partners, leering jerks, violent buffoons, and dimwitted tyrants who ought to let women run the world.
Numerous studies have shown that both sexes care more about harms to women than to men. Men get punished more severely than women for the same crime, and crimes against women are punished more severely than crimes against men. Institutions openly discriminate against men in hiring and promotion policies—and a majority of men as well as women favor affirmative-action programs for women.
The education establishment has obsessed for decades about the shortage of women in some science and tech disciplines, but few worry about males badly trailing by just about every other academic measure from kindergarten through graduate school. By the time boys finish high school (if they do), they’re so far behind that many colleges lower admissions standards for males—a rare instance of pro-male discrimination, though it’s not motivated by a desire to help men. Admissions directors do it because many women are loath to attend a college if the gender ratio is too skewed.
Gender disparities generally matter only if they work against women. In computing its Global Gender Gap, the much-quoted annual report, the World Economic Forum has explicitly ignored male disadvantages: if men fare worse on a particular dimension, a country still gets a perfect score for equality on that measure. Prodded by the federal Title IX law banning sexual discrimination in schools, educators have concentrated on eliminating disparities in athletics but not in other extracurricular programs, which mostly skew female. The fact that there are now three female college students for every two males is of no concern to the White House Gender Policy Council. Its “National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality” doesn’t even mention boys’ struggles in school, instead focusing exclusively on new ways to help female students get further ahead.
Of course, females in the past did suffer from outright discrimination, but most American institutions eliminated those barriers at least 40 years ago. Women have been a majority of college graduates since 1982 and dominate by many other key measures. They not only live longer than men but also benefit from a higher share of federal funding for medical research. They’re much less likely to be fatally injured on the job or commit suicide. They receive the lion’s share of Social Security and other entitlement payments (while men pay the lion’s share of taxes). They decide how to spend most of the family income. Women initiate most divorces and are much likelier to win custody of the children. While men are ahead in some ways—politicians love to denounce the “gender pay gap” and the “glass ceiling” supposedly limiting women—these disparities have been shown to be largely, if not entirely, due to personal preferences and choices, not discrimination.
Yet most people still believe in the “myth of pervasive misogyny,” as the social psychologists Cory Clark and Bo Winegard concluded in Quillette after surveying the research literature on gender bias. Noting that a Google Scholar search for “misogyny” yielded 114,000 results, while a search for “misandry” yielded only 2,340, they write: “We suspect this difference in interest in misogyny over misandry reflects not the relative prevalence of each type of prejudice, but rather greater concern for the well-being of women than men. All of the arguments, anecdotes, and data forwarded to support the narrative that we live in an implacably misogynistic society, in fact, may be evidence of precisely the opposite.”
Yes, the misogyny myth persists because both sexes want to believe it. Our greater concern for women’s well-being is presumably an innate bias that evolved because it helped the species multiply. From a reproductive standpoint, individual males are “expendable,” but females are not. Men are expected to sacrifice their lives defending women in every culture, from hunter-gatherer bands to modern nations like Ukraine, which allowed millions of women to flee the Russian invasion and required all men under 60 to stay and fight.
This instinct to protect women has been essential for societies to survive, but it has also made us easy prey for a modern industry of academics, journalists, activists, lobbyists, and bureaucrats who falsely blame sexism for any gender gap that doesn’t favor women. The misogyny myth has served the interests of this diversity industry, but it is enormously damaging to the rest of society—women as well as men.
In 2016, the Australian national government launched a rigorous quest to combat its own misogyny. As part of its “Gender Equality Strategy,” it brought in Harvard economist Michael J. Hiscox to address a disparity in the government workforce: women held 59 percent of the jobs but only 49 percent of the executive positions.
Hiscox’s team of behavioral scientists tested an approach inspired by a famous study of musicians auditioning to join symphony orchestras in America. It had reported that in blind auditions, with a screen hiding the musicians from judges, women were much more successful than in open auditions. Hiscox’s researchers adapted this gender-blind strategy for a randomized controlled trial involving more than 2,100 managers at Australian agencies. Each manager saw a group of résumés and shortlisted the most promising candidates for an executive position. Some saw résumés with no names; others saw the same résumés with either male or female names.
The experiment produced an “unintended consequence,” as the researchers ruefully noted in their report, “Going Blind to See More Clearly.” When managers evaluated a résumé with a female name like Wendy Richards, they were more likely to shortlist it than if they saw that same résumé with no name. And they were less likely to shortlist it if the name was Gary Richards. Australia’s public servants were clearly guilty of bias against men—and that was just fine with the architects of the Gender Equality Strategy. The crucial lesson from this experiment, Hiscox’s team concluded, was for the government to avoid gender-blind hiring procedures while seeking new ways to discriminate against men: “It remains clear that more work needs to be done to address the problem of gender inequality.”
This report of anti-male bias evoked little interest among journalists or academics. According to Google Scholar, it has averaged barely five citations annually in the academic literature—nothing like the impact of the orchestra study, which has averaged more than 100 citations annually since appearing in 2000 and become a perennial favorite in the media and at diversity conferences. Its conclusions were welcomed so eagerly that scholars ignored the contradictory data in the paper for nearly two decades.
It was not until 2019 that two analysts outside the diversity industry—a data scientist and a Columbia University statistician—noted a problem: overall, the female musicians did comparatively worse in the blind auditions than in the open auditions. It was only by fixing on a subset of the musicians that the researchers could identify an advantage for women, but this effect wasn’t consistent, and the findings were not statistically significant. These limitations were acknowledged by the authors and described in 2019 by Christina Hoff Sommers in the Wall Street Journal; yet since then, the orchestra study has kept racking up citations at an even higher rate—more than 200 in just the last year.
Its continuing popularity is no surprise to Lee Jussim, a social psychologist at Rutgers, who has surveyed the research literature. His analysis shows that studies reporting bias against female scientists tend to have much smaller samples (typically fewer than 200 subjects) than the studies that find either no bias or a bias against male scientists (typically more than 2,000 subjects). Larger studies normally carry more weight, but not on this topic: the smaller studies typically are cited more than five times as often in the research literature. “The only explanation I can think of is that finding a bias against women scientists is useful activist rhetoric for getting more resources and publicity,” he says. “So much of social science is propaganda masquerading as science.”
This selective science has been a boon for the diversity industry since the 1990s, when two reports purporting to find bias against female scientists made global headlines. One, led by female professors at MIT declaring themselves victims of discrimination, was faulted for presenting “no objective evidence whatsoever.” The other, by Swedish female scientists claiming that they had been unfairly denied grants, was severely criticized for its methodology—and when critics of its statistical manipulations asked to see the original data, they were told that the data had been lost. But the objections didn’t matter. The claims of bias became dogma, and the diversity industry has flourished ever since, thanks to support from corporations, private foundations, and public agencies like the National Science Foundation. The NSF has dispensed $270 million to institutions and activists through a program to “enhance gender equity” in science—and the money has kept flowing despite reams of contrary evidence from studies involving hundreds of universities and hundreds of thousands of grant proposals.
“The scientific establishment has been irresponsible in making all these pronouncements about bias against women without ever feeling the need to check the empirical literature,” says researcher Stephen Ceci. He and Wendy Williams—both psychologists at Cornell, and married to each other—have found that female scientists fare as well as, and often better than, comparable male scientists. To set the record straight, Ceci and Williams five years ago began an “adversarial collaboration” with another prominent researcher with a conflicting perspective, Shulamit Kahn, an economist at Boston University who had identified and criticized bias against women working in her field.
The result, published this year, is by far the most thorough and balanced assessment of gender bias in academic science. After sifting through thousands of studies, the authors conclude that, while female scientists in the past did face discrimination, since 2000 they have fared as well as comparable males in receiving federal grants or in getting an article accepted at a journal. And when it comes to being hired at universities, the authors find that women have an advantage over men with similar credentials. “Academia is actually doing a disservice to women and to science by perpetuating myths of bias against women that the weight of the evidence doesn’t support,” Kahn says. “It discourages women from entering academic careers and discourages institutions that have actually been quite successful in leveling the playing field.”
Why, then, are female professors still “underrepresented” on campus? Kahn and her coauthors point to two major factors. One, which they suggest could be addressed by making the tenure timetable more flexible, is that many female Ph.D.s choose jobs outside academia because they’re reluctant to juggle family responsibilities with the intense scholarly workload required to win tenure early in their careers. The other factor is the “gender productivity gap”: on average, female scientists publish fewer articles than male scientists do, and their individual articles are also cited less frequently. By the productivity standard, female scientists are often overrepresented in academia. Studies in the United States and Europe have shown that women typically need fewer publications and citations than men to be hired, to receive tenure, and to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Even if you still believe that some male academics are secretly biased against women, their sexism is clearly no match for the enormous social pressure to hire women—and that pressure is evident outside academia, too. Studies of hiring practices for both skilled and unskilled jobs have shown either no bias against women or a bias in their favor, particularly in female-dominated occupations like nursing and preschool teaching. As usual, all this evidence has received virtually no attention. “Female privilege” may be real, but it’s not newsworthy.
The diversity industry claims to be guided by a desire for “equity,” which sounds noble but is sufficiently vague to mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. A more precise term for the industry’s philosophy is equalitarianism, which was introduced to the psychological literature by Clark and Winegard. Equalitarianism, as they define it in an article with Roy Baumeister and Connor Hasty, is a psychological bias that “stems from an aversion to inequality and a desire to protect relatively low status groups, and includes three interrelated beliefs: (1) demographic groups do not differ biologically; (2) prejudice is ubiquitous and explains existing group disparities; (3) society can, and should, make all groups equal in society.”
To an equalitarian, there is nothing wrong with the Australian government or tenure committees deliberately discriminating against men, or with laws in some states and European countries forcing companies to appoint a quota of female board directors. Equalitarians seek the utopia envisioned by UN Women, the United Nations’ agency for women (there is no agency for men), in a 2020 publication titled “Welcome to Equiterra, Where Gender Equality Is Real.” The report is richly illustrated with drawings of an imaginary city where the sexes happily mingle in places like “Equal Representation Avenue,” “Inclusion Square,” and “Unstereotype Avenue.”
The report doesn’t explain exactly how Equiterra eliminated gender disparities, but a hint can be found at the “Toxic Masculinity Recycling Plant”—a place where, “through innovative dialogues and learning, toxic behaviors are transformed into attitudes that perpetuate gender equality.” Another hint is on Equiterra’s “Equal Pay Street,” where both sexes work at the same kinds of jobs for the same pay because “no systemic barriers . . . hold women back.”
In the real world, a full-time female worker over 25 in America earns 84 cents for every dollar a male earns, but even equalitarian researchers acknowledge that this gap is not due to overt sexual discrimination (illegal since the Equal Pay Act of 1963). It’s due mainly to men choosing higher-paying professions, like coding, instead of, say, teaching, and to the “motherhood penalty.” There’s no significant gender gap between childless singles in their twenties, but once they become parents, mothers tend to reduce their hours, switch to a lower-paying job with more flexibility, or drop out of the workforce. To equalitarians, these differences are the result of systemic sexism: gender stereotypes that discourage girls from seeking high-paying jobs and saddle them with an unfair share of child-care responsibilities.
But what would happen if all “systemic barriers” disappeared? Economists have studied an approximation of that equalitarian ideal by analyzing data from millions of Uber trips in America. Female drivers are assigned trips and paid fees determined by a gender-blind computer algorithm, and they benefit from the one clear example of sexism detected in the economists’ studies: while riders of both sexes give the same rating, on average, to male and female drivers, both sexes give bigger tips to the female drivers.
Yet the male drivers still end up earning more per hour than the female drivers—about 7 percent more, according to researchers from Stanford and the University of Chicago. One reason is that the men have gained more on-the-job expertise. They typically drive more hours weekly and stay longer with the firm, so they’ve had more time to learn how to maximize hourly earnings. But the main reason—the factor that accounts for about half the pay gap—involves a basic difference between the sexes. Men typically drive faster than women do, and Uber drivers are no exception. Their average speed is only 2 percent higher, but that small difference means more trips per hour.
This is the sort of sex difference that equalitarians prefer to ignore. They’ll blame the gender gap in highway fatalities on males’ tendency to drive faster and more recklessly due to “testosterone poisoning,” but they won’t admit that males’ greater aggressiveness and penchant for risk-taking can also be advantageous. No matter how many systemic barriers Equiterra’s rulers tear down, the male Uber drivers on that utopia’s Equal Pay Street will make more money—and so will men in many other professions because, on average, they will take more risks and compete more aggressively.
The “competition gap,” as it’s called, is already obvious in three-year-olds. Researchers debate how much is due to nature (hormonal differences) and how much to nurture, but there’s no question that males are more competitive. When asked during experiments how they’d like to be paid for performing tasks, women are likelier to prefer a flat rate per task, whereas men will choose to enter a tournament offering greater rewards but also the risk of earning less. On average, women care more about “work-life balance” and finding a job that seems personally and socially meaningful—typically, one in a comfortable environment that involves working with people rather than things. Men prioritize making money, so they’re willing to take less appealing jobs—work that’s tedious, outdoors, dirty, dangerous—with longer, less predictable hours. The gender pay gap among graduates of elite business schools is due in significant part to their job choices. The male MBAs are likelier to take jobs in finance and consulting, whereas the women tend to choose lower-paying industries that are less competitive and less risky.
Equalitarians complain that even in fields that are mainly female, too many men are in the top positions. But these positions make extreme demands, and men tend to be more extreme—in both directions. They predominate in homeless shelters and prisons, too. One reason for the gender gap between college students is that there are more boys with low IQs and learning disabilities. Female IQ scores don’t deviate from the average as much as men’s scores do, so there are more males at both the lower and the upper extremes, and this greater male variability is evident in many other traits.
Lawrence Summers lost his job as Harvard’s president after he dared to suggest this gender difference as a partial explanation for the preponderance of men at the pinnacle of scientific fields. But the equalitarian mob that ousted him couldn’t rebut his facts or his logic: whatever traits it takes to reach the top—intelligence, creativity, industriousness, obsessiveness, ambition—more males than females will be found in the 99th percentile. This pattern largely explains the gender gap in researchers’ productivity, which owes mainly to the disproportionate number of men at the extreme high end of the rankings.
The pattern is especially obvious in two pursuits with no systemic barriers to women: bridge and Scrabble. A majority of bridge players are women, but men have won virtually all the major championships open to both sexes (which is why there are also championships just for women). Women have long outnumbered men at Scrabble clubs and tournaments, but only one woman has ever won the national championship (in 1987). Today the 25 highest-ranked Scrabble players in North America are all men, and only five women rank in the top 100.
Anyone with an Internet connection can learn the right words and strategies for Scrabble, but women are less inclined to endure the requisite drudgery, as psychologists found in studies of competitors at the national championships. After controlling for various factors, the researchers concluded that the gender gap was mainly due to training preferences. Both sexes devoted about the same amount of time each week to Scrabble, but the women spent more of it playing games, whereas the men spent more time doing tedious anagram drills and analyzing past games—not as much fun as playing another person, but it gave them a competitive edge.
Whether it’s for trophies or promotions or dollars, men compete more avidly than women because they’ve always had more to lose. In the distant and not-so-distant past, DNA research has revealed, the typical woman had a good chance of finding a mate and passing on genes that survive today; but for men, the odds were skewed. The men who won wars and acquired more status and resources (like Genghis Khan) had more than their share of mating opportunities and descendants, while many others died without passing on their genes. To survive in the mating game, men had to prevail in competitions, and that remains true today.
Women still prefer winners. They’re the pickier sex—on Tinder, they’re much likelier to swipe left—and they’re especially picky when it comes to a partner’s income, education, and professional accomplishments, as researchers have found in analyses of mate preferences, activity on dating websites, and patterns of marriage and divorce. Most American women still want a man who makes at least as much as they do—and wealthier women are more determined than less affluent women to find someone with a successful career.
While some traditional attitudes about wives’ roles have shifted, husbands are still typically expected to be breadwinners. An American couple is more likely to divorce if the husband lacks a full-time job, but the wife’s employment status doesn’t affect the odds. Studies of divorce rates in dozens of other countries have confirmed this peril to unemployed men, which comedian Chris Rock has also observed: “Fellows, if you lose your job, you’re going to lose your woman. That’s right. She may not leave the day you lose it, but the countdown has begun.”
Equalitarians imagine that they can erase these sex differences by altering society’s “gender norms” and “gender schema,” but they’re ignoring biological realities (brain differences are already apparent in the womb) as well as the results of their own efforts. Despite a half-century of programs encouraging girls to enter male-dominated fields, women still vastly prefer the humanities and social sciences to physics and engineering. In fact, the gender gap in many professions tends to widen as countries modernize. In less developed countries, educated women are likelier to go into engineering because there aren’t many well-paying alternatives; but in richer countries, they take advantage of the wider opportunities in fields such as the law, social work, communications, and the arts.
These differences won’t disappear, and why should we wish them to? If women don’t want to become computer coders and don’t work as hard as men to publish papers or win Scrabble tournaments, it’s because they prefer to pursue other activities. The women who pay a motherhood penalty in their careers also reap a motherhood reward by spending more time with their children, and that reward typically means more to women than to men. In a Pew survey of American adults, fewer than a quarter of married mothers with children under 18 said that their ideal situation would be a full-time job.
Men, on average, have different priorities, as American universities discovered when they adjusted their tenure clocks to accommodate parents. After assistant professors were given an extra year to reach tenure for each new child, a study of the leading departments of economics showed that the tenure rate for women actually declined relative to men because the fathers—but not the mothers—used the extra time to publish more papers.
Some women, clearly, are just as competitive, ambitious, career-oriented, and money-hungry as any man. There just aren’t as many of them. Those women certainly deserve equal opportunities to succeed in their careers—but that’s not what equalitarians seek. They demand equal outcomes, an unreachable goal that provides endless pretexts to discriminate further against men. In their utopia, both sexes are equal, but one is more equal than the other.
The most visible victims of the misogyny myth are male—the boys whose needs are neglected in schools, the men denied jobs, promotions, and awards—but their plight has never aroused much sympathy, even among men. Journalists and scholars have chronicled their woes in books like Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power (1993), Lionel Tiger’s Decline of Males (1999), Christina Hoff Sommers’s War Against Boys (2000), Susan Pinker’s Sexual Paradox (2008), Roy Baumeister’s Is There Anything Good About Men? (2010), Kay Hymowitz’s Manning Up (2011), and Richard V. Reeves’s Of Boys and Men (2022). But the diversity industry continues to rule public policy and shape public opinion.
The more real progress that women make, the more both sexes worry about imaginary misogyny. In Gallup polls a decade ago, a majority of Americans believed that women had equal job opportunities; today, a majority disagree. Support has also risen for affirmative-action programs for women, which enjoy support from two-thirds of Americans and are especially popular among younger adults. Opposition is dismissed as a “backlash” against women, and those who argue for equal treatment of the sexes are labeled (absurdly) “male supremacists.” In academia and at companies like Google (which fired an engineer who wrote a memo accurately describing gender research), blaming a gender gap on sexual differences is a bigger career risk than ever—unless the gap reflects badly on men.
“Misandry is not only tolerated; it’s actively encouraged,” Winegard says. “It’s become a form of claptrap: if you go on Oprah and blame men for any problem, the audience will automatically clap. There’s open hostility toward normal masculine behavior. We used to measure people on a masculine scale and conclude that women are failed men. Now men are failed women.”
He and Clark, his coauthor (and spouse), haven’t had much success persuading fellow researchers or the public to recognize the pervasive anti-male bias, but they hope that the evidence will eventually make an impact, if only because misandry ultimately hurts women, too. There’d be more marriageable men with college degrees and successful careers if schools weren’t such hostile environments for males—from the primary schools promoting “girl power” to the colleges that eliminated due-process protections for men accused of sexual assault. Because of women’s reluctance to marry down, the three-to-two female-to-male ratio among college graduates makes it harder for both sexes to find spouses. “Some possible consequences,” Clark says, “include an increasing willingness among successful women to participate in nonmonogamous relationships with the limited number of desirable men and an increasing number of hostile involuntary celibate men.”
Both sexes have also been hurt by the misandrist excesses of the #MeToo movement. With a few exceptions—like the actress Amber Heard, successfully sued by her husband, Johnny Depp—women who wreck men’s reputations and careers with false accusations suffer few consequences in the media or the courts. Police and prosecutors have routinely refused to act, even in clear cases of perjury, as Bettina Arndt has documented. These injustices, along with the draconian punishments and policies imposed by the (mainly female) managers of human resources, have instilled fear in workplaces, stifling office romances (which, in the past, frequently led to marriage) as well as valuable professional relationships. Most women still want men to make the first move in courtship, but who wants to risk being reported to HR for subjecting a colleague to “unwanted attention”? Even a purely professional meeting in private is risky if something innocent gets misconstrued—or falsely described by a hostile colleague exploiting the believe-all-women bias.
Many male managers and workers have become leery to meet alone with a woman, a post-#MeToo trend confirmed in surveys and widely lamented by professional women and diversity consultants. (Naturally, the diversity industry blames this on men, expecting them to ignore the new risks they face.) An analysis of junior faculty seeking tenure in economics at 100 American universities concluded that #MeToo had imposed “unintended costs” on women. After the movement began, fewer research collaborations occurred between male and female professors (and the decline was steepest in blue states, where men presumably felt most vulnerable to #MeToo accusations). This decline didn’t affect the scholarly output of male junior professors, who compensated by doing more projects with other men. But the junior female professors didn’t increase their collaborations with other women, hurting their overall productivity.
The new male skittishness has raised an awkward topic for the diversity industry: the value of male mentors. The industry has long argued that women deserve favored treatment in promotions because, as leaders, they will provide more help to junior women struggling against the patriarchy’s misogyny. But is that true? In 2020, Nature Communications published a study of more than 3 million mentor-protégé relationships between the authors of scientific papers. It showed that neither the female junior scientists nor their female mentors reaped special benefits from working together: their subsequent research had less impact (as gauged by citations) than that of the female junior and senior scientists who collaborated with men.
The article, whose lead author was a female junior scientist, prompted so much outrage from senior female scientists that the journal apologized for publishing it and used a transparently cynical pretext (methodological nitpicks that had not been applied to similar research with politically acceptable conclusions) to pressure the authors into retracting the article. In their retraction statement, the authors explained that, while they considered their key findings “still valid,” they felt “deep regret” for causing female scientists “pain on an individual level.”
They also dutifully proclaimed their own “unwavering commitment to gender equity,” and concluded, “We hope the academic debate continues on how to achieve true equity in science—a debate that thrives on robust and vivid scientific exchange.” But how could they possibly believe that? The censorship of their paper demonstrated the opposite: the campaign for “gender equity” thrives by suppressing debate. Journal editors have become so fearful that even researchers with sterling publication records now have a hard time finding any journal to publish challenges to gender dogma. The diversity industry’s survival depends on bludgeoning scientists and the public to believe—or, at least, pretend to believe—in the misogyny myth.
The myth hurts us all because it undermines the system that has enabled both sexes to flourish as never before: meritocracy. The principle that people should succeed according to their abilities and achievements, not their membership in a group, is “the intellectual dynamite which has blown up old worlds,” as Adrian Wooldridge writes in The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World. The old stagnant aristocracies shielded themselves from competition by enforcing the myth that men of noble birth were inherently superior to male commoners and to all women. But that myth—and the spoils system for male aristocrats—couldn’t survive the meritocratic revolution.
When commoners got their chance to compete in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they transformed the world with innovations in government, science, medicine, public health, technology, and commerce. Women were still mostly excluded, but they reaped enormous benefits from the male competition. The most important gender gap reversed, as women’s life expectancy rose, equaling and then surpassing men’s. New industries and inventions—textile mills, food-processing companies, washing machines—liberated women from domestic labors that had consumed their days. Once freed to work outside the home in the twentieth century, they shattered the myth that women were too fragile and intellectually limited to succeed in the public sphere.
But now that meritocracy has brought unprecedented opportunities and prosperity to both sexes, it is being replaced by a new spoils system: equalitarianism. Like the old male aristocracy, the diversity industry libels one sex while giving unmerited rewards to the other. It again promotes mediocrity and stagnation, demeaning and demoralizing both sexes by penalizing hardworking men and encouraging women to wallow in imagined victimhood.
The diversity industry has corrupted science and so many other institutions that it has become as entrenched as the old aristocracy—and without even the pretense of the traditional noblesse oblige to the less privileged. No matter how much harm it does to society, no matter how badly it poisons relations between the sexes, the diversity industry will cling to its privilege until we recognize that it, too, is peddling a lie.
Top Photo: If the patriarchy ruled American society, the typical television dad wouldn’t be a doofus. (ENTERTAINMENT PICTURES/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO)