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Death by HR: Pink Collar Ghettos, Publishing and HR

Women Dominate HR - Worldcrunch.com

Women Dominate HR – Worldcrunch.com

This is a followup to Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women… motivated by Virgina Postrel’s query asking when publishing became a female-dominated field.

In Sisters of Perpetual Grievance: Gender Pay Gap we described how the “women make only 77 cents on the dollar” aggregate statistic is due to women’s choices of field, type of work, and desire to take time off for raising children. One of the counter-arguments is that female-dominated fields are paid less because of some sort of systemic discrimination. The Patriarchy has decided to pay less in those fields because they are dominated by women…!

Aside from the impracticality of such a conspiracy — implying the free market in labor somehow fails, forcing workers in those fields to accept lower pay instead of moving on to more lucrative opportunities — there’s some truth hiding in the claim. Fields dominated by women do tend to pay less. And there are a few examples where fields once male-oriented or at least balanced became female-dominated, and the average pay level dropped. Cause and effect? Or did the declining pay and improving security of these jobs lead them to become relatively more attractive to women looking for flexibility and more social workplaces?

Some examples of the phenomenon: 1) Public elementary school teaching, 2) Non-tenured higher education teaching, 3) Medical administrators, 4) HR administrators and staff (as we have seen).

The female dominance of elementary school teaching in the US was complete by 1900. Women were paid much less than men for the same teaching jobs — a result of real discrimination, and the sense that women would leave to marry and raise a family so their commitment was temporary. As a result, employing mostly young women as teachers became a cost-saving mechanism, and males left the field as salaries dropped and better opportunities with higher status and possibilities for advancement became available:

The drive for universal education increased the demand for teachers and the associated costs of instruction, giving an advantage to schools that hired female teachers. Female teachers were paid about half as much as their male counterparts in standardized schools (Grumet, p. 39). In fact, some scholars attest that “feminization occurred because school districts were unwilling or unable to pay the rising costs of retaining male teachers as school terms became longer and teaching became less attractive to men.” The wage gap between the genders was smaller in rural schools, possibly because there were fewer qualified candidates to fill teaching positions. Rural and southern areas tended to have more informal teaching with less discrepancy between the salaries of male and female teachers, and had mostly male teachers or an equal balance of men and women (Strober and Lanford). In the 1800s, male teachers tended to remain in their positions longer than female teachers, which may explain some of the wage gap. Women often used teaching as a way to earn an income between their own adolescence and motherhood. Teaching began as a job that was expected to cover living expenses for a young, single person or to supplement other sources of income. As teaching became a women’s career, the salary remained low even though a good number of female teachers never married and continued to teach.[1]

The era of young woman teaching for a few years before marrying and leaving the job market ended when mothers generally began to work outside the home. For some period during that transition, female teachers were expected to leave teaching when they married even when they wanted to continue, which led some to hide their marital status. Primary-school teachers were never of high status, but their status dropped further when men almost entirely abandoned public school teaching (many male teachers continued to teach at private schools, where their autonomy and status was greater.)

By 1850, the feminization of teaching had taken hold, especially in urban areas. Feminization was not a preference of schools at first. “School committees often searched in vain for men teachers before finally hiring women…. One major concern was discipline,” but separating classes by age in larger urban schools made discipline easier. The cost savings of female teachers may have been a result of feminization, rather than its cause. It was difficult for schools to find enough male teachers to fill all positions. “Teaching paid poorly compared with other jobs that men could get in urban areas, and the demands of teaching in big-city school systems–with eight months or more of school each year–precluded men teaching as a part-time job. Simultaneously, the nineteenth-century ideology of ‘domestic feminism’ limited the range of occupations to which young middle-class women could aspire.” There was a dearth of willing men and a plethora of educated, young white women qualified to teach for low salaries….

Teaching became formalized, and the percentage of women increased from 1850 to 1900. Schooling in the more urban North was more formalized, with more female teachers and sharp pay differences between men and women. When schooling became formalized, female teachers were seen as very desirable because they were seen as cheap, as better teachers of young children, and as more willing to conform to the bureaucratization of schooling. Male principals were employed to deal with disciplinary problems that their female teachers were unable to handle….

The feminized state of teaching has been both a boon and a burden to the women who teach. Female teachers historically postponed or hid marriages to maintain their careers. It was not until the mid-1900s that married women were allowed to continue teaching, but when they did, it was a career that integrated relatively well with childrearing. The teaching schedule has excellent “mommy hours,” with afternoons and evenings free, plus summer and winter vacations that correspond with children’s vacations. Since there is less of a hierarchy among teachers, it is easier to take time off and then re-enter the workforce than it is with other careers. Unfortunately, the salary and prestige of teaching are very low, and the mother-friendly benefits of teaching may contribute to maintaining it as a low-prestige career. The teaching hours and part-year schedule are well suited to women with children, making the profession fit easily into traditional women’s lives, but this has contributed to the feminization of the profession, leading to lower salaries and prestige. Teaching also has a relatively low retention rate compared to other occupations, especially for women. “Those who defected were mainly wealthier, smarter, and more often married than those who continued to teach[2].

The bureaucratization of a profession — with limited autonomy but greater security and reduced and more flexible hours, plus the ease of taking time off and moving between positions allowed by certification requirements and uncompetitive salaries — encourages female dominance. Highly-competitive, high-paying, performance-oriented occupations remained more difficult both to enter and succeed in, so the path of least resistance for a woman wanting a family-friendly career remained entry to one of the regulated fields where cooperative skills and consensus were more important than measurable productivity, and the pay reflected that.

Publishing is another field where women have come to dominate an industry — as in teaching, by the 1960s “There was a dearth of willing men and a plethora of educated, young white women qualified to [do editorial work] for low salaries.” Publishing had always employed large numbers of women in clerical and lower-level positions though men dominated editorial, managerial, and sales jobs. This began to change rapidly in the 1960s, and by the 1990s publishing was dominated by women, until today every part of the industry is female-dominated, from agents to editors to even authors. It’s often noted that the reading of books also became a primarily female-associated activity during that period, with women buying and reading far more books than men to the point where female-favored genres like romance outsell all other fiction.

Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining Women’s Inroads Into Male Occupations by Barbara F. Reskin and Patricia A. Roos has a detailed history of the rapid evolution of publishing from a male-dominated to a female-dominated industry, tracing it to factors including the increasing size and commercialization of the consolidating publishing companies and the historically low pay in the industry which discouraged men from entry while allowing upper-class educated white women to take it over from below:

Caplette observed that “the gradual increase of women editors in the last decade [the 1970s] has, within the last few years, become an upsurge—nearly half of trade and mass-market paperback editors are now women.” Confirming her impressions are those of more than forty industry informants who agreed that the 1970s brought dramatic progress for women in editing and other publishing jobs.

Although women advanced in many occupations in the 1970s, their gains in editing outstripped those in most other occupations…. I found that changes in the publishing industry and the editorial role set the stage for women’s gains by altering both the supply of male would-be editors and the demand for women….

For most of this century, publishing’s glamour and its image as a “gentlemen’s profession’ were sufficient to attract more than enough qualified recruits. Then, although industrial expansion heightened the demand for editorial workers, the concomitants of that growth reduced the industry’s attractive­ness to its traditional workforce: talented young men from high socioeconomic backgrounds.

Dwindling attraction for men. Publishing’s primary draw for such men had been entree into the world of culture without the taint of commerce. But commerce is exactly what outside ownership meant. At the same time, as we have seen, editorial work lost many of the features that had compen­sated nonwealthy workers for low wages. To make matters worse, commerce was supplanting culture without conferring the usual economic incentives of commercial careers. Although editorial wages had always been low, there were other compensations. One editor said, “I consider the right to publish books which don’t make money a part of my salary.” Just as some editors lost that right, wages may have actually declined. In 1982, entry-level pay for editorial assistants was as low as an $9,000 a year, and several people I interviewed noted that it is increasingly difficult, perhaps impossible, to survive—much less support a family—in Manhattan on editorial wages. An industry expert said, only partly in jest: “Only college graduates with rich parents willing to subsidize them can afford to work in editorial jobs any more.” In the face of society’s growing emphasis on a fashionable life-style and the increasing tendency to use income as “the measure of a man,” pub­lishing’s low wages further deterred men from pursuing editorial jobs. Better-paying media jobs (technical writing for high-tech companies, corporate public relations, film) and graduate school lured away talented men interested in communications.

With declining opportunities for mobility and challenges to the traditional promotion practices that had given men a fast track to the top, little remained to draw men to editorial work. A woman editor…in 1978 remarked, “The average man thinks that he has a God-given right to start in as an editor.” To the extent that this was true, entry-level iobs as editorial assistants (often a euphemism for secretary when these were women’s jobs) attracted few men, and the industry increasingly relied on women as editorial assistants.

Increasing supply of women. The gentility that had rendered publish­ing jobs appropriate for upper-status men did so too for “respectable” women whom traditional values encouraged to pursue cultural and aesthetic pursuits. As a long-time assistant at Harper & Brothers said, “Young women getting out of college were so anxious to get a job in something they could be proud of that they would go into publishing and work for practically nothing.” Gender-role socialization further enhanced women’s qualifications for publishing by schooling them in verbal and com­munications skills that equipped them with the facility and inclination to work with words and predisposed them toward the interpersonal work that editing often involved. One female holder of a master’s degree said of her secretarial job in the mid-1950s, “I thought it was an honor to read books and write… flap copy.” Working in an intellectual and cul­tural industry situated in one of the metropolitan publishing “capitals” offered an added incentive to women graduating from prestigious eastern colleges, particularly before the 1970s, when few alternatives presented themselves to career-minded women.

The massive influx of women into the labor force during the 1970s expanded the pool of women available for editorial jobs, and the women’s liberation movement encouraged women to consider occupations customarily reserved for men. Publishing attracted women also because it reputedly pre­sented fewer obstacles than many other industries. Moreover, male occupations in predominantly female industries—particularly growing industries­—tend to be more hospitable and hence more attractive to women. Thus, although women knew they faced discrimination in publishing, they probably realized that other commercial fields were worse. Publishing’s low wages were less likely to deter women than men because their socialization had not encouraged them to maximize income. Because women lacked access to many better-paying jobs, they did not have to forgo more lucrative opportunities for jobs as assistants or editors, and their limited alternatives presumably also explained their willingness to accept the changes that were making editorial work less desirable to men. As a result, the supply of female applicants remained unabated or grew, while that of males declined. Moreover, several interviewees contended that because publishing could no longer attract the most qualified men, female applicants often had better credentials than the males who did apply. If publishers chose the best applicant {as the new emphasis on profits dictated), it would probably be a woman….

In other words, women became attractive to publishers because of their literary and interpersonal skills, their presumed ability to read for a largely female readership, and their expertise in growing segments of the industry—and because they would work cheap. These factors, combined with their avail­ability as a surplus labor pool that could be readily drawn into the workforce, made women an acceptable solution to publishing’s economic fluctuations[3].

As publishing grew to be dominated by upper-class white women, it also came to be dominated by progressive feminists — of both sexes. Not all women in publishing are third-wave feminists, but many are, and like the Ivy League males they replaced, they view their power to get politically-progressive but uncommercial books published as a partial compensation for their low-paid and otherwise low-autonomy jobs. The industry relies on a cheap labor pool of new graduates hoping for an entry into more stable, higher-paying tenured editorial jobs, much as academia now relies on low-paid, abused adjunct teachers. The last of the older generation of editors and managers is leaving now, which leaves the legacy publishing industry with few editorial workers who understand more typical American families and blue-collar or male values. Those small and contrarian publishers who put out books of more interest to mainstream readers and men, like the Hollywood producers that made a bundle on the movie American Sniper — which respectfully told the morally-complex story of a Texas-based sniper in Iraq and the aftermath of his service — have discovered that big publishing’s neglect of this large audience makes it much more profitable to serve it.

Jason Pinter, bestselling thriller writer, discovered this downside when, working as an editor, he could get no support for a male-attracting book:

In an essay…, Pinter describes how (during his days in publishing) he attempted to acquire a book by professional wrestler Chris Jericho. His efforts almost failed for lack of men in the acquisitions meeting, he says–if one colleague’s 15-year-old nephew hadn’t been a wrestling fan, the book wouldn’t have made it through. It was “the fault of a system in which in a room of 15-20 people, not one of them knew what I was talking about…”

The same type of less-competitive, bureaucracy-tolerant, socially-oriented person has gone into HR as a field, studying sociology, psychology, and diversity, while employing personal relationships to make their way up in a field where results are very hard to quantify. The lower salaries in HR keep more effective thought-leaders from entering, yet companies continue to increase HR staff without realizing that they are bringing in people who don’t highly value excellence or competitive success. And the result will be emphasis on diversity and harmony over long-term growth and profit. Companies that carefully screen their HR staff and keep the focus on necessary business activity will have a competitive advantage and avoid the long-term decline a politicized HR department will cause.


[1] “The Feminization of Teaching in America,” By Elizabeth Boyle, MIT Progam in Women’s and Gender Studies – Kampf Prize, 2004.
https://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena.mit.edu/org/w/wgs/prize/eb04.html
[2] “The Feminization of Teaching in America,” By Elizabeth Boyle, MIT Progam in Women’s and Gender Studies – Kampf Prize, 2004.
https://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena.mit.edu/org/w/wgs/prize/eb04.html
[3] Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining Women’s Inroads Into Male Occupations by Barbara F. Reskin and Patricia A. Roos, Temple University Press, March 3, 2009. http://amzn.to/2b4vuCq

 


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More reading on other topics:

Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…
Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

Death by HR: Who Staffs HR Departments? Mostly Women…

Death by HR

Death by HR

Information on the staffing of Human Resources (HR) departments themselves is not easy to come by. HR-focused writings tend toward academic Social Justice gobbledygook, and commonly-observed dominance of HR staffing by women and “soft” degree majors is hard to confirm with hard data from individual companies, though there are some statistics collected at the national level in the US. Historically, Personnel departments were staffed by the same type of people one would find in accounting or finance — clerks and paperwork handlers — but the managers tended to be male (as they were for other corporate functions.) As Personnel became HR and HR-specific degree programs began to appear, hiring shifted to people who had studied HR as a field — with simple organizational psychology, benefits law, and concepts of social equity and diversity baked in to new graduates. What did not get studied so thoroughly was economics, technology, specific types of business knowledge, or statistics. HR graduates today are trained in a party line Social Justice ideology which sets them up as enforcers of government edicts on diversity, with less emphasis on ideals of merit and productivity that would promote the competitiveness of the business they are supposedly helping to direct.

Business advisor Ram Charan noted that typical HR managers had little perspective on the overall business, as he wrote in the Harvard Business Review:

But it’s a rare CHRO [Chief Human Resources Officer] who can serve in such an active role. Most of them are process-oriented generalists who have expertise in personnel benefits, compensation, and labor relations. They are focused on internal matters such as engagement, empowerment, and managing cultural issues. What they can’t do very well is relate HR to real-world business needs. They don’t know how key decisions are made, and they have great difficulty analyzing why people—or whole parts of the organization—aren’t meeting the business’s performance goals.

Among the few CHROs who do know, I almost always find a common distinguishing quality: They have worked in line operations—such as sales, services, or manufacturing—or in finance. The celebrated former CHRO of GE, Bill Conaty, was a plant manager before Jack Welch brought him into HR. Conaty weighed in on key promotions and succession planning, working hand in glove with Welch in a sweeping overhaul of the company. Mary Anne Elliott, the CHRO of Marsh, had had several managerial roles outside HR. She is overhauling the HR pipeline to bring in other people with business experience. Santrupt Misra, who left Hindustan Unilever to join Aditya Birla Group in 1996, became a close partner of the chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, working on organization and restructuring and developing P&L managers. He runs a $2 billion business as well as heading HR at the $45 billion conglomerate.[1]

Charan’s observation is that effective HR heads came out of business operations, not from academic programs with a social sciences and labor-influenced background. But new HR hires are now low-paid (relative to engineers and sales) and inexperienced recent graduates who have limited understanding of the business, its products, and competitive markets. Such people will likely have no difficulty believing in the mythical gender “pay gap” because they themselves have jobs in a kind of feminine and minority ghetto within the company, where most of their fellow HR staff believe in affirmative action and social justice efforts as a moral crusade. One lesson from this tendency: if you are staffing up your own company’s HR department, start at the top with someone who is deeply experienced in your business and will hire HR staff who demonstrate a commitment to making the best products with the best people to survive and profit in a competitive marketplace. “Activist” HR staff who see your business as a platform for doing social work—who want to mold your employees to promote social welfare and support social justice causes—will gradually dull your company’s competitive edge and in the long run destroy it. Overseas competitors, especially Asian companies, will not be as hampered by hiring policies designed to right social wrongs.

We’ll look later at how the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is top-heavy with blacks and women, showing that the EEOC itself is not achieving statistical representation or diversity. The same is true of their internal enforcers, the HR departments. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects statistics on occupations and shows this data for 2015:[2]

US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Composition of workforce by job category

US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Composition of workforce by job category

Notice that women dominate the HR profession—with above-70% representation in both management and staff of HR. Blacks, meanwhile, don’t do quite as well in HR management—but are overrepresented by 30-40% at lower levels.

This is US-economy-wide, of course, and individual companies and industries may diverge from these averages further. It is a common observation, for example, that Silicon Valley companies have even more female-centric HR staffs. And as at the EEOC, Latinos remain underrepresented in both HR management and staff. When your HR rep comes to tell your team that you have to give preference to minority and female hires, ask them when HR staffs will recruit enough men, Asians, and Latinos to achieve true equity and diversity.

Some HR professionals decry the female ghettoization of HR. James A. Landrith, a male HR professional, wrote of his experience as a male in a female-dominated role:

For years, men did rule the HR world as most companies could not see a female employee outside of the administrative ranks, food service or cleaning help. As the profession transitioned from “personnel” to “human resources” the gender mix tilted out of balance. I don’t particularly view this imbalance as negative or positive. It simply is the reality….

As a man working in a field heavily dominated by women, it can be both a challenge and an advantage. I’ve been dismissed or treated as a nuisance as the sole male in a given group by a female supervisor who was quite happy to develop her female subordinates, while doing her best to alienate or ignore me….

The reactions from employees outside of HR departments have been the most dramatic. Quite often, they are surprised when the “new HR” is a man or they wonder if I am “from corporate.” I work hard to win the trust and respect of the people who depend on me to assist them with their concerns or interpret policy and ensure it is enforced fairly. My gender is not key to my success in human resources work, but it is obvious to employees that I am different. After over a decade of HR experience, I am still contacted periodically by employees from prior locations and even former employers. Often, they just need a friendly ear to listen to them vent or they want to pick my brain regarding an issue that is bugging them. That is about building trust and confidence—not gender.

… The assumption that women are naturally more compassionate and maternal when in positions of power or authority is quickly dispatched when dealing with an authoritarian type in a human resources role. There are plenty of women who operate under that philosophy while performing their duties. I’ve encountered them in supervisory roles or as peers.[3]

Stereotypes and generalizations about female-dominated organizations would suggest that they are more emotional, less logical; more safety-oriented and less willing to take risks to accomplish higher goals; more likely to talk about feelings than to act; and more cliquish and petty, and less likely to focus on the larger goals of the organization. Of course these generalizations are untrue of many specific women in HR roles, but “Ben” writing as a young male HR professional comments:

I can still remember the first time I walked into a NASHRM event and looked around. There were about a hundred people in the room. Of that number the six guys (including me) stuck out like sore thumbs. It kind of made me laugh, because I’ve never worked in a job where the men outnumbered the women. It doesn’t really bother me, but I’ve always been a little curious about why the imbalance occurs.

I don’t want to lay any blanket statements on the ladies out there, but my little experience seems to point to most of them focusing on compliance and how to keep things “safe.” More of the males, however, seem to be focused on how to keep the goals moving forward and holding onto the strategic focus.

Like I said, I don’t like blanket statements and generalities, because I’ve certainly met dozens of female HR pros with a high strategic focus. However, due to the high percentage of women overall, there certainly are a lot of them who are doing that compliance work…[4]

Some HR professionals are quite happy with female dominance and see it as a natural result of stereotypically feminine strengths in nurturing and empathy. Male writer John Sumser hyperventilates at HR Examiner:

HR is the only predominantly female function in the contemporary organization. It is the beach-head of accomplishment in the generational move of women from home to the executive suite. While the oft-repeated stereotype is that men are HR’s decision makers, the truth is that women occupy two-thirds of the HR executive seats.

It’s useful to imagine that the people who populate the HR Department are heroes. The function provides work, upward mobility and access to the heart of organizational culture for a class of people with little organizational history.

Being a fundamentally female function, HR behaves differently than other parts of the organization. It’s more networky and can be nurturing. It’s natural that development is housed here.

The essence of HR might be its ability to make clear judgments about really intangible things like personality, potential and match-making. These are stereotypical female things.[5]

Some feminists suggest high-performing women have been slotted in HR roles as a means of shunting them off the CEO track.[6] It has become a self-fulfilling prophecy—as women came to dominate HR departments, HR has come to be viewed as a pink-collar ghetto, a feminized and lower-status department from which few would graduate into the highest levels of management. As managers from the rest of the company rise, they see HR as a nuisance that does more to impair their work than assist, and so when they become CEOs and members of the board, they continue to see HR as a necessary evil and not a source of competent and effective executives.

The reasons for the disparity and the gender imbalances [in HR] remain open for debate, as does the impact created by the imbalances. For some, it is a taboo subject that stretches the limits of political correctness and therefore is only marginally discussed. For others, the imbalance is profoundly important and demands further discussion and research…. Willock (2007) states that “75% entry of women into HR is too high, and you get the sense that something is wrong here.” Other comments from HR executives interviewed for Willock’s article ranged between moderate concerns with the high percentages, to an alarming concern that this should be a burning issue that needs to be addressed… there are varying opinions as to whether or not the high numbers even matter. Some believe that the imbalance may hurt the profession in ways that cannot be clearly validated, and might be speculative at best. Are women, for example, hiring their own into the profession because of a certain comfort level within the majority? Or is it simply because men see the profession as a matriarchal stronghold designed to nurture and administrate, while offering little in the way of power and advancement?[7]

HR departments have in many companies been “captured” by the political forces outside the company that regulate labor, punish violations with fines and public shaming, and pressure companies into paying off diversity activists looking for support for their causes and sinecures for their political allies. The increasing complexity of regulations and government enforcement have, as in academia and hospitals, increased the number of deadweight HR employees needed to handle administration. Like the commissars and parallel political officers of the old USSR, HR functionaries are unconsciously acting not only for managements wanting managers to avoid legal and ethical trouble, but for governments reaching into the organization to achieve political goals and promote government control of private businesses. Smart managements will neutralize these tendencies by paying close attention to attitudes and activities of HR managers and staff. While companies need to avoid trouble with governments, they need the best employees and competitive products and services to survive and thrive.

[edit: Welcome, Instapundit readers! And thanks to Janet Bloomfield for blogging about my book here. She adds some useful comments from her perspective.]


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. 

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


[1] “It’s Time to Split HR,” by Ram Charan. Harvard Business Review, July-August 2014.
https://hbr.org/2014/07/its-time-to-split-hr
[2] “Household Data Annual Averages,” 2015. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “HOUSEHOLD DATA ANNUAL AVERAGES. Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity [Numbers in thousands]” http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.pdf
[3] “The New ‘Women’s Work’: On Being A Male Human Resources Professional,” by James A. Landrith. The Good Men Project, October 30, 2012. https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-new-womens-work-on-being-a-male-human-resources-professional/
[4] “Men in HR: A National Geographic Exclusive,” by Ben, UpstartHR, September 23, 2010. http://upstarthr.com/men-in-hr-a-national-geographic-exclusive/
[5] “HR is Female,” by John Sumser. HR Examiner, March 30, 2011. http://www.hrexaminer.com/hr-is-female/
[6] “60% of compliance officers are women—and that may be a bad thing,” by Shanto Atkins, Quartz, March 28, 2014. http://qz.com/191569/60-of-compliance-officers-are-women-and-thats-a-bad-thing/
[7] “Human Resources: The Complexity of the Gender Imbalance,” by Benjamin Banks of St. John Fisher College, May 2010. http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=business_etd_masters

More reading on other topics:

Death by HR: The Great Enrichment to the Great Slackening
Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
The Justice is Too Damn High! – Gawker, the High Cost of Litigation, and the Weapon Shops of Isher
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

Sisters of Perpetual Grievance: Gender Pay Gap

Pay Gap - Whitehouse.gov

Pay Gap – Whitehouse.gov

The Party of Government continually promises to fix problems that don’t exist to portray themselves as warriors for social justice. One of the most mainstream of these myths is the gender pay gap, which aggregates pay for all full-time workers to show women making about 78% of what men earn and implies that women are being paid less for the same jobs throughout the economy. Millions of diverse types of worker and employment are lumped together to come up with a simple number that is assumed to be the result of systemic discrimination.

No matter how many times this is debunked, government and partisan propaganda repeats the lie to justify more affirmative action and labor laws to raise women’s pay and reduce job requirements. When it’s pointed out the discrepancy comes largely from voluntary choices made by women — to take off years for childrearing, to work in clean and safe environments, to work with people rather than machines and physical tasks — labor partisans claim that there must be systematic discrimination holding down wages in female-dominated professions like childcare.

Ask anyone who manages people in a large corporation, and you’ll discover that whatever minor pay discrepancies exist, corporate compensation schemes only allow limited differences. Men and women at a single company with the same jobs and performance are paid pretty much the same, with the minor differences related to preferences — men push harder for higher pay (and longer hours), while women on average value social relationships and shorter, more flexible hours. Some activists seem to imply that those who work too hard are implicitly making worklife too competitive for women, and that all workers should be made to work less so that those with childcare and family responsibilities can be paid the same.

A free market in labor will always have discrepancies, with competition for and relative scarcity of experienced and driven workers in certain demanding fields winning them higher compensation than those in low-skilled, pleasant jobs. It happens that more men end up in the dirty, difficult, demanding fields and sacrifice personal lives and family to outshine competitors; changing that would mean changing culture and human nature, forcing equality of outcome on a complex system that has rewards and sacrifices more important than mere financial compensation.

The pre-feminist world, say prior to 1960, tended to block women who wished to succeed in professional fields. It’s good that this has changed — more women and more men who wanted to take roles not conforming to rigid gender stereotypes have been able to do so, and net welfare has increased as a result. Yet politicians seek to raise wishful thinking about “having it all” as a woman to a public policy goal — that labor regulation should force employers to hire set ratios of women and minorities regardless of fit and productivity, and pay the mother who works 30 hours a week the same as the driven young father who wants to rise to the top by working 60-hour weeks. This is part of the recipe for Euro-stagnation that is gradually damaging US growth, and forcing HR departments to act as the social engineering arms of the Federal EEOC and Dept. of Labor.

The EEOC intends to muscle private companies to comply, starting with their Jan. 29, 2016 announcement[1] that all companies with more than 100 employees would be required to report compensation broken down by race, gender, and ethnicity:

“Too often, pay discrimination goes undetected because of a lack of accurate information about what people are paid,” said Jenny Yang, the chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will publish the proposed regulation jointly with the Department of Labor. “We will be using the information that we’re collecting as one piece of information that can inform our investigations.”

…“Bridging the stubborn pay gap between men and women in the work force has proven to be very challenging,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, noting that the median wage for women amounts to 79 percent of that for men. “We have seen progress, but it isn’t enough.”

And it will never be enough, since the Party of Government actually doesn’t want their poll-tested issues to ever go away. While discrimination on a small scale still happens — individual managers and some small backwater companies still discriminate — on the whole women are given a fair shake and accommodated in today’s corporate world. Pretending that millions of woman can get big raises for their current jobs by voting in Party of Government politicians is too valuable to give up as an election issue. The problem must be kept alive forever, even when all of its real aspects have been dealt with as much as a free market in labor — and an efficient economy with freedom of choice for companies and workers — allows.

Ashe Schow, a sharp feminist writer who doesn’t buy the party line, says:

I’ve written extensively on how the gender wage gap would be more accurately referred to as the “gender earnings gap,” because the gap is due mostly to choices women make and not discrimination.

But now you don’t have to take my word for it, you can listen to Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard University. Goldin spoke to Stephen Dubner, the journalist behind the popular podcast “Freakanomics,” in a segment about what really causes the gap.
As one can imagine, Goldin comes to the same conclusion that I and many others have: That the gap is due mostly to choices men and women make in their careers and not discrimination.

“Does that mean that women are receiving lower pay for equal work?” Goldin asked after listening to clips of President Obama and comedienne Sarah Silverman claim that women earn 77 cents to the dollar that men earn. “That is possibly the case in certain places, but by and large it’s not that, it’s something else.”

That “something else,” is choice — in the careers that women take, the hours they work and the time off they take. Dubner asked her about evidence that discrimination plays a role in the gap, to which Goldin responded that such a “smoking gun” no longer exists.[2]

Walter Olson of Overlawyered points out how the EEOC’s collection of data might benefit law firms who can use it to back up lawsuits, with the inevitable costly settlements enriching the law firms and further reducing corporate freedom to work with individual employees to tailor working conditions, hours, and compensation:

Aside from driving a high volume of litigation by the EEOC itself, the scheme will also greatly benefit private lawyers who sue employers, including class action lawyers. An employer might then weather the resulting litigation siege by showing that its numbers were good enough, or not. Would today’s Labor Department and EEOC policies look much different if the Obama administration frankly acknowledged that it was devising them with an eye toward maximum liability and payouts?[3]

A study[4] of recent graduates in STEM fields demonstrated how disparate pay could quickly be generated by different preferences in these supposedly logical fields:

One year after they graduate, women with Ph.D.s in science and engineering fields earn 31 percent less than do men, according to a new study using previously unavailable data.

The pay gap dropped to 11 percent when researchers took into account that women tended to graduate with degrees in fields that generally pay less than fields in which men got their degrees.

The rest of the pay gap disappeared when the researchers controlled for whether women were married and had children.

“There’s a dramatic difference in how much early career men and women in the sciences are paid,” said Bruce Weinberg, co-author of the study and professor of economics at The Ohio State University. “We can get a sense of some of the reasons behind the pay gap, but our study can’t speak to whether any of the gap is due to discrimination. Our results do suggest some lack of family-friendliness for women in these careers.”

“Family-friendly” means less focused, less demanding work. In science and engineering, focus is critical — a worker who is obsessed by the work and spends night and day thinking about a problem undistracted by children and social responsibilities is vastly more likely to achieve a breakthrough or a rigorous, clean, innovative design before the competition. Multitasking and the interruption of concentration by family schedules and set break times reduces productivity, especially in fields like programming where long and intense focus is required for the best work product. Not all jobs in these fields require this obsessive focus and many peripheral and support jobs can allow time for family life and other interests, but these jobs tend to pay less as well. To demand to be paid the same amount for them is to cheat the hard worker who is motivated to temporarily sacrifice much of the enjoyment of a well-rounded life for the sake of the task and who may be doing so to build the record of outstanding performance needed to build the base of a long career. And it should surprise no one that far fewer women are interested in that kind of unbalanced, unsocial, driven existence, even for short periods. The report goes on to say:

The importance of helpful family policies is supported by the fact that single and childless women tended to have less of a pay gap than those who were married and those who had children. About equal percentages of men and women were married or partnered. And more men than women in the study (24 versus 19 percent) had children. But it was the married women with children who saw the lower pay.

“Our results show a larger child-gap in salary among women Ph.D.s than among men,” Weinberg said.

“We can’t tell from our data what’s going on there. There’s probably a combination of factors. Some women may consciously choose to be primary caregivers and pull back from work. But there may also be some employers putting women on a ‘mommy track’ where they get paid less.”

The researchers had data, not previously available to scientists, on 1,237 students who received Ph.D.s from four U.S. universities from 2007 to 2010 and were supported on research projects while in school.

This data included federal funding support the Ph.D. graduates received as students, the dissertations they wrote (this told researchers what scientific field they studied) and U.S. Census data on where they worked and how much they earned one year after graduation, as well as their marital and childbearing status. Names and identifying characteristics were stripped from the data before the scientists had access to it.

Results showed clear differences in what men and women studied, with women clustered in the lower-paying fields. Overall, 59 percent of women completed dissertations in biology, chemistry and health, compared to only 27 percent of men.

Meanwhile, men were more than twice as likely to complete dissertations in more financially lucrative fields like engineering (45 versus 21 percent), and were 1.5 times more likely to study computer science, math or physics (28 versus 19 percent).

….Once they graduate, the differences between men and women with Ph.D.s continue. While industry tends to pay the largest salaries, women are more likely than men to work in government and academic settings. In fact, women in the study were 13 percentage points less likely than men to work outside of academia and government.

Women tend to choose more sociable, more supportive work environments, in fields that pay somewhat less. It is likely this is in part not only their conscious preference, but a kind of luxury afforded by the remnants of traditional gender roles — while free not to follow those roles, most men and women still have them embedded in their plans and goals, and the goal of the family with a male primary earner and female caretaker and secondary earner is now the most common. In that context, a woman’s choice of lower compensation jobs and fields makes perfect sense as part of her strategy.



[1] “Obama Moves to Expand Rules Aimed at Closing Gender Pay Gap,” By Julie Hirshfeld Davis, Jan. 29, 2016 New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/us/politics/obama-moves-to-expand-rules-aimed-at-closing-gender-pay-gap.html
[2] “Harvard prof. takes down gender wage gap myth,” by Ashe Schow, 1/13/16 Washington Examiner. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/harvard-prof.-takes-down-gender-wage-gap-myth/article/2580405
[3] “EEOC pay reporting: the better to sue you with, my dear,” by Walter Olson, 2/1/2016 Overlawyered. http://overlawyered.com/2016/02/eeoc-employers-must-report-pay-numbers-to-us/
[4] “Young women in STEM fields earn up to one-third less than men: Marriage, kids and scientific fields chosen explain gap, study finds,”
by Jeff Grabmeier, May 10, 2016, Ohio State University News.
https://news.osu.edu/news/2016/05/10/stem-gap/


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More reading on other topics:

Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming Idiocracy
Regulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy

Death by HR: Good-Enough Cogs vs Best Employees

College Costs Up, Salaries Flat

College Costs Up, Salaries Flat

Remember the bucket brigade model of teamwork? It demonstrated that giving a manager the freedom to pick and choose who would be on a team and what they would be paid allowed even those weak in some areas to be employed to complement the strengths of other team members. Taking away that freedom to choose — by imposing minimum wages or labor regulations — resulted in some people being unemployed who might otherwise have done well and gained skills over time.

The cog model of labor, as employed by unionists and government labor laws, sees jobs as slots to be filled by anyone who is “good enough” — who can function at some standardized level in the position. No worker is supposed to do much more than the standard amount of work, and hours are to be regulated by law to prevent abuse of workers by rapacious business owners. Much of the discussion of affirmative action (AA) and diversity assumes this — when there are many candidates to choose from, one can simply declare a minimum competence requirement, then choose the candidates that further diversity goals from among that pool. This will typically not be the best candidates for the particular position and team environment, but team managers are not given a choice.

Signifiers of “good enough” that are seen as objective — like high school and college degrees, grades, and test scores — are often used to screen out many applicants for entry-level jobs before any consideration of their complete records. But all of these quality signifiers tend to screen out more minority applicants, and so are inevitably attacked as having disparate impacts. The EEOC, for example, recently issued a letter stating that requiring a high-school diploma for a position might be inherently discriminatory under the Americans with Disabilities Act.[1] Standardized tests have been legally attacked and removed as requirements as well. The “Ban the Box” campaign[2] is an effort to prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal histories, since some minorities are much more likely to have been convicted of a crime. The reductio ad absurdum where people convicted of sex crimes against children cannot be disqualified from jobs in child care is not far away; the unionist / government answer is that such people must be hired, paid, and promoted, but can be told to report to a room to serve their work days, since as with the bad teachers paid to sit in NYC’s Rubber Room,[3] it’s not that important that they actually be useful as long as equality is preserved — the task is not to produce, but to harvest the proceeds of political influence for clients of the political machine.

There is an argument for prohibiting employers from asking about college degrees for many positions — since minority applicants from failed urban schools fail to graduate, or if they do tend to drop out of higher education before they obtain a degree, using a college degree as a general requirement for jobs where the extra education is not required to do the job is discriminatory. The requirement certifies mostly that the applicant can deal with arbitrary reward systems and complicated schedules of attendance with only long-term rewards, which bars most raised with the underclass cultures who have had little opportunity to learn self-discipline or other bourgeois values. Standards of learning for obtaining a soft-studies degree like psychology or political science from a low-end college are not much more rigorous than for high school, with many graduates not much more literate and knowledgeable after four years of “education.” Anyone who can navigate the bureaucracy and attend class is likely to be awarded a degree.

Scott Alexander in his Slate Star Codex piece “Against Tulip Subsidies”[4] wrote about a kingdom where marriage proposals customarily required a tulip, and what happened when tulips became expensive in a speculative market bubble (as they actually did in Holland around 1637)[5] :

Suitors wishing to give a token of their love find themselves having to invest their entire life savings – with no guarantee that the woman will even say yes! Soon, some of the poorest people are locked out of marriage and family-raising entirely.

Some of the members of Parliament are outraged. Marriage is, they say, a human right, and to see it forcibly denied the poor by foreign speculators is nothing less than an abomination. They demand that the King provide every man enough money to guarantee he can buy a tulip. Some objections are raised: won’t it deplete the Treasury? Are we obligated to buy everyone a beautiful flawless bulb, or just the sickliest, grungiest plant that will technically satisfy the requirements of the ritual? If some man continuously proposes to women who reject him, are we obligated to pay for a new bulb each time, thus subsidizing his stupidity?

The pro-subsidy faction declares that the people asking these question are well-off, and can probably afford tulips of their own, and so from their place of privilege they are trying to raise pointless objections to other people being able to obtain the connubial happiness they themselves enjoy. After the doubters are tarred and feathered and thrown in the river, Parliament votes that the public purse pay for as many tulips as the poor need, whatever the price.

He makes the analogy to the Progressive movement for “free college,” where everyone is viewed as entitled to a four-year degree at public expense, without much consideration of the cost or value of such degrees. Then he points out his own profession, medicine, as an example where arbitrarily costly educational requirements may have little benefit and high costs:

In America, aspiring doctors do four years of undergrad in whatever area they want (I did Philosophy), then four more years of medical school, for a total of eight years post-high school education. In Ireland, aspiring doctors go straight from high school to medical school and finish after five years.

I’ve done medicine in both America and Ireland. The doctors in both countries are about equally good. When Irish doctors take the American standardized tests, they usually do pretty well. Ireland is one of the approximately 100% of First World countries that gets better health outcomes than the United States. There’s no evidence whatsoever that American doctors gain anything from those three extra years of undergrad. And why would they? Why is having a philosophy degree under my belt supposed to make me any better at medicine?

(I guess I might have acquired a talent for colorectal surgery through long practice pulling things out of my ass, but it hardly seems worth it.)

I’ll make another confession. Ireland’s medical school is five years as opposed to America’s four because the Irish spend their first year teaching the basic sciences – biology, organic chemistry, physics, calculus. When I applied to medical school in Ireland, they offered me an accelerated four year program on the grounds that I had surely gotten all of those in my American undergraduate work. I hadn’t. I read some books about them over the summer and did just fine.

Americans take eight years to become doctors. Irishmen can do it in four, and achieve the same result. Each year of higher education at a good school – let’s say an Ivy, doctors don’t study at Podunk Community College – costs about $50,000. So American medical students are paying an extra $200,000 for…what?

Remember, a modest amount of the current health care crisis is caused by doctors’ crippling level of debt. Socially responsible doctors often consider less lucrative careers helping the needy, right up until the bill comes due from their education and they realize they have to make a lot of money right now. We took one look at that problem and said “You know, let’s make doctors pay an extra $200,000 for no reason.”

And to paraphrase Dirkson, $200,000 here, $200,000 there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money. 20,000 doctors graduate in the United States each year; that means the total yearly cost of requiring doctors to have undergraduate degrees is $4 billion. That’s most of the amount of money you’d need to house every homeless person in the country ($10,000 to house one homeless x 600,000 homeless).

Alexander cites more examples from his immediate family and friends of the use of degree and certification requirements to keep talented, motivated people out of professions and jobs:

But it’s not just medicine. Let me tell you about my family.

There’s my cousin. He wants to be a firefighter. He’s wanted to be a firefighter ever since he was young, and he’s done volunteer work for his local fire department, who have promised him a job. But in order to get it, he has to go do four years of college. You can’t be a firefighter without a college degree. That would be ridiculous. Back in the old days, when people were allowed to become firefighters after getting only thirteen measly years of book learning, I have it on good authority that several major states burnt to the ground.

My mother is a Spanish teacher. After twenty years teaching, with excellent reviews by her students, she pursued a Masters’ in Education because her school was going to pay her more money if she had it. She told me that her professors were incompetent, had never actually taught real students, and spent the entire course pushing whatever was the latest educational fad; however, after paying them thousands of dollars, she got the degree and her school dutifully increased her salary. She is lucky. In several states, teachers are required by law to pursue a Masters’ degree to be allowed to continue teaching. Oddly enough, these states have no better student outcomes than states without this requirement, but this does not seem to affect their zeal for this requirement. Even though many rigorous well-controlled studies have found that presence of absence of a Masters’ degree explains approximately zero percent of variance in teacher quality, many states continue to require it if you want to keep your license, and almost every state will pay you more for having it.

Before taking my current job, I taught English in Japan. I had no Japanese language experience and no teaching experience, but the company I interviewed with asked if I had an undergraduate degree in some subject or other, and that was good enough for them. Meanwhile, I knew people who were fluent in Japanese and who had high-level TOEFL certification. They did not have a college degree so they were not considered.

My ex-girlfriend majored in Gender Studies, but it turned out all of the high-paying gender factories had relocated to China. They solved this problem by going to App Academy, a three month long, $15,000 course that taught programming. App Academy graduates compete for the same jobs as people who have taken computer science in college, a four-year-long, $200,000 undertaking.

I see no reason to think my family and friends are unique. The overall picture seems to be one of people paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a degree in Art History to pursue a job in Sales, or a degree in Spanish Literature to get a job as a middle manager. Or not paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, if they happen to be poor, and so being permanently locked out of jobs as a firefighter or salesman.

This is a picture of a society where distant authorities control employment qualifications for political and bureaucratic reasons and thereby prevent many people who would be very good at a job from having any chance of getting it. The “free college” movement is just more of the same central-planning-style thinking: removing all obstacles so that everyone — no matter how poorly-motivated, ill-prepared, or congenitally stupid — goes to a college, no matter how dumbed-down. Which by magic will allow all of them to be placed in good professional jobs with high salaries and secure futures. Because college is good, everyone should go! And heaven help us when barely-competent professionals are running important institutions because they have been passed along through an education system where no one fails.

This faith in college education for all is a secular version of believing prayer in schools will somehow uplift the morality of children forced to pray. It is promoted not only by the “Baptists” who believe, but by the self-interested bootleggers who benefit from force-feeding students and tax dollars to academic bureaucracies that employ mostly Democrat-aligned voters, which is why more funding for college is always on that party’s agenda.

This tax-supported credentialism has begun to erode standards in higher education, to the point where half or more of students with A and B averages in high school still need remedial coursework[6] before even starting a college-level program. As the corrupting effect of government student loan financing took hold in colleges and universities, standards fell, and resources go to expensive facilities and administrators while teaching is often assigned to low-paid, abused gypsy adjunct instructors. The result is a pervasive decline in the quality of college graduates at all but the highest-level institutions and a heavy burden of debt on students who discover too late that a college degree is no guarantee of a job paying enough to pay for it.

Credentialism is lazy, and part of the no-competence, no-consequences culture brought to us by government. The party of government works very hard to feed their voters a steady diet of stories deflecting blame for institutional failure toward for-profit colleges, prisons, and medical facilities while exempting the nonprofit, government-employee-staffed equivalents from any scrutiny, when they are often just as corrupt. Requiring 4-year degrees for most jobs ratifies the dumbing-down of the high school degree, which used to certify a broad education in the basics sufficient for middle-class skilled employment.

—

[1] EEOC letter dated June 11, 2012. “ADA & Title VII: High School Diploma Requirement and Disparate Impact.” https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/foia/letters/2012/ada_title_vii_diploma_disparate_impact.html
[2] “Ban the Box: US Cities, Counties, and States Adopt Fair Hiring Policies,” by Michelle Natividad Rodriguez and Beth Avery, National Employment Law Project. http://www.nelp.org/publication/ban-the-box-fair-chance-hiring-state-and-local-guide/
[3] “The Rubber Room: The battle over New York City’s worst teachers,” by Steven Brill. The New Yorker, August 31, 2009. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/08/31/the-rubber-room
[4] http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/06/against-tulip-subsidies/
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania
[6] “Trapped in the Community College Remedial Maze,” by Mikhail Zinshteyn, Atlantic, February 26, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/02/community-colleges-remedial-classes/471192/


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More reading on other topics:

Death by HR: The Simple Model of Project Labor
Death by HR: EEOC Incompetence and the Coming IdiocracyRegulation Strangling Innovation: Planes, Trains, and Hyperloop
Captain America and Progressive Infantilization
The Great Progressive Stagnation vs. Dynamism
FDA Wants More Lung Cancer
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Public Employee Unions
Jane Jacobs’ Monstrous Hybrids: Guardians vs Commerce
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action is Crippling America
Death by HR: The End of Merit in Civil Service
Death by HR: History and Practice of Affirmative Action and the EEOC
Civil Service: Woodrow Wilson’s Progressive Dream
Bootleggers and Baptists
Corrupt Feedback Loops: Justice Dept. Extortion
Corrupt Feedback Loops, Goldman Sachs: More Justice Dept. Extortion
Death by HR: The Birth and Evolution of the HR Department
Levellers and Redistributionists: The Feudal Underpinnings of Socialism
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
Trump World: Looking Backward
Minimum Wage: The Parable of the Ladder
Selective Outrage
Culture Wars: Co-Existence Through Limited Government
Social Justice Warriors, Jihadists, and Neo-Nazis: Constructed Identities
Tuitions Inflated, Product Degraded, Student Debts Unsustainable
The Morality of Glamour

On Affirmative Action and Social Policy:

Affirmative Action: Chinese, Indian-Origin Citizens in Malaysia Oppressed
Affirmative Action: Caste Reservation in India
Diversity Hires: Pressure on High Tech<a
Title IX Totalitarianism is Gender-Neutral
Public Schools in Poor Districts: For Control Not Education
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Child Welfare Ideas: Every Child Gets a Government Guardian!
“Income Inequality” Propaganda is Just Disguised Materialism

The greatest hits from SubstrateWars.com (Science Fiction topics):

Fear is the Mindkiller
Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Selective Outrage
Sons of Liberty vs. National Front
“Tomorrowland”: Tragic Misfire
The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition
Hugos, Sad Puppies 3, and Direct Knowledge
Selective Outrage and Angry Tribes
Men of Honor vs Victim Culture
SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best
“Why Aren’t There More Women Futurists?”
Science Fiction Fandom and SJW warfare

More reading on the military:

US Military: From No Standing Armies to Permanent Global Power
US Military: The Desegration Experience
The VA Scandals: Death by Bureaucracy