Mar 10, 2011

Extremism in Equality?

Having worked for a gender-specific organization for several years, I saw lots of stats comparing the sexes. Sometimes I think these stats are relevant. For example, the fact that 100% of US Presidents have been men compared to 0% of women, that's fairly significant. (Yes, I'm giving an extreme example for a reason.)

However, I saw lots of stats about disparity that were just silly. Do we really think the genders are ever going to be split perfectly 50/50 on anything? Will 50% exactly of college students ever be girls? Will exactly 50% of teachers ever be men? Not but for maybe a split second. Of course things are going to be a little off balance.

I'll admit, this particularly drives me crazy when I hear statements like (note: just making up a number here) "We must encourage girls in the chemistry because only 45% of chemistry majors are women." What happens when we push girls into our hypothetical chemistry classes and they start to outnumber boys? Will we start to ignore the girls and push the boys? Will we not rest until it is 50/50 exactly?

I think we have much bigger things to worry about than extremely perfect equality. That just seems like a goal not worth stressing over in my mind. We're such perfectionists about stats that at the end of the day, probably don't really matter, and all the while the big picture - like how many kids will graduate high school and possibly be prepared for a college education with any major - is pushed aside.

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