Peak Oil is nowhere near as troublesome as the different points of Peak Female and Male participation in the workforce. Unemployed women can participate in child rearing. Unemployed men create civil disruptions.
A new study released this week shows that more women-owned businesses are generating upwards of $1 million in yearly revenue. But while this seems like something to cheer, it obscures the real truth behind women’s progress as firm owners.
First of all, the basics. The study, published by American Express OPEN, shows that more women business owners are raking in the seven-digit revenues, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The bad news? These high-earners account for just 1.8% of all female business owners.
Even worse, that percentage is identical to what it was in 1997.
The article then goes on to list the stereotypical reasons:
a) Women tend to have multiple priorities in life, while men tend to be myopic.
b) Women are less likely to risk capital (take out loans) than their male counterparts.
c) Women are more risk averse than men. Or perhaps, men are more risk tolerant than women.
To which I’d add two points:
THE ECONOMY OF RISK
The first is a clarification. What women see as bias men see as efficiency. Men look for a ‘hunting pack’ to belong to constantly, and join more easily, and absorb risk on behalf of the pack more readily. In exchange for risk tolerance, males invest in other males. Over a lifetime of experience, a man learns that women are a higher cost and higher risk partner than men. This risk tolerance shows up in interesting ways: men will take risks on less information especially if they see negligible losses. Failure (especially in the USA) among men is the result of attempting to be heroic and it sends positive status signals to other men and women to have taken risks. Women do not tend to share this self perception even when they appreciate it in men.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Secondly, at the risk of being offensive on a terribly sensitive topic, there is one unpleasant elephant in the room:
CEO’s of large companies tend to have IQ’s of 130 or higher. And men vary in IQ more widely than women (there are more males below 85 and above 115 than women). At 125 there are two men for every woman. This imbalance continues to a five-to-one, and eventually to as much as a thirty-to-one difference.
If we also account for time spent in the work place, it should be statistically unlikely that the number of female CEO’s will increase substantially. At least numerically, it appears that we are already at or near the maximum, and that explains why the curves have flattened.
This argument and the supporting data has been out there for quite a while now and simply presents an uncomfortable truth. At the extremes (and ceo’s are outliers) males dominate numerically not only by preference for risk, but by ability. There are just many more males in the upper and lower IQ ranges.
Like professional sports, when we are talking CEO’s we are de-facto talking about outliers. This exceptionalism at the margins canot be applied to ‘average’ people. And if they are compared, women possess clear advantages in short term memory and ease of adaption to existing social groups. Men possess clear advantages in dealing with quantitative analysis, risk and abstractions. Female superiority in short term memory is not an advantage in the most demanding roles, but it is a distinct advantage in most roles. Empathy assists in obtaining understanding and compromise, but running large companies is a matter of ‘sensing’ the world through empirical data rather than through empathy. The majority of jobs in the white collar world favors women’s abilities more than mens. And this can be seen in the data.
However, this fact has no impact on the small business market in which success is more a matter of relationship building and sales. Women have taken over any number of industries and specializations. The most obvious are medicine: veterinary and general practitioners. Two occupations that were almost exclusively male. But more importantly, women continue to displace men in the middle. And jobs that have been a male specialty because of physical strength continue to disappear. Beginning with farming in the 1850’s, then manufacturing, then construction. All the muscle-work is being replaced by machines. This is creating an unemployment problem for ‘lower end’ men — who usually become a problem for society. So to some degree we have displaced men permanently. And while we may have women feeling unfulfilled to some degree, we have legions of men who are increasingly likely to simply check out of society, and in some cases return to violence and drugs — or the modern equivalent: video games and sports, while remaining permanently underemployed.
Otherwise the article is honest and correct. Which is rare for an article on this topic.
What does this mean? Well, it means that there is a ‘peak’ to women’s participation at the extremes, and a peak to men’s participation in the middle. It looks like both genders have peaked. This doesn’t mean women should stop trying to achieve increases. It means that there is no ‘male conspiracy’ to keep women down. And as a member of the anti-misandry movement, I would prefer that we dealt with the truth rather than ideological fancy that demonizes men as a means of obscuring material differences in ability at the extremes, while ignoring differences in the middle — where most men and women actually exist.