Male Variance and the Remnants of the Gender Gap
By Bryan Caplan
[W]omen will still make up just a third of business-school students and barely a quarter of law firm partners… Women still have trouble
penetrating the highest rungs of the corporate world: they are also
just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, less than a quarter of politicians,
and just 22 percent of the leadership positions in journalism.
It’s easy to see why elite women find this inequality nettlesome. But isn’t the obvious explanation just that men have higher variance in general? This is easiest to prove for cognitive ability – see Garett Jones’ review of the evidence. But it also seems very plausible for interests and obsessiveness. Anyone can start a blog, but men are much more likely to do so. The reason, I’ll warrant, is that the male distribution of ego has a right tail that stretches far into the horizon.
If you resist this story, I’ve got a question: Why are men so over-represented at the bottom of the status distribution as well as the top? See the homeless, janitors, and conscripted infantry in war zones.
Admittedly, variance can only take you so far. If women’s mean success keeps rising relative to men’s, they’ll lose their positions at the top and redouble their positions at the bottom. But does this really have to happen before we give patriarchy a funeral?