Australia’s Education Minister Dan Tehan is working on legislation to force our recalcitrant universities to properly tackle free speech on campuses. But it’s one thing to find ways of stopping students throwing tomatoes at a Prime Minister’s car and quite another to take on the current feminist culture which encourages blatant discrimination against men in academic appointments, and censors publications or scholarship which challenge their preferred narrative.
Across the Western World, universities kowtow to these orthodoxies. Swedish economist Magnus Henrekson is a professor and president of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm. He recently completed an interesting study which seemed a good contender for publication in one of the leading economics journals.
It was based on an extremely large and exhaustive data set covering the entire Swedish population, used state of the art econometric techniques and their hypothesis was confirmed, with strong empirical support.
Henrekson and his colleague Carl Magnus Bjuggren sent it to various economic journals – only to receive endless rejections. “We have gotten pushbacks everywhere. It is obvious that the issue is not the quality of the paper per se. The problem is that the research question and the results are controversial (i.e., politically incorrect). We just get desk rejects where editors say that this is not an interesting question, or we get twisted reviews where reviewers go out of their way to conjure up outlandish alternative explanations to our findings.”
Findings about what? Well, the first version of their paper was entitled “Avoiding the housewife stigma: Self-employment as a female career choice”. So, the crux of the Swedish research is that women who marry men with extremely high incomes often start their own businesses which then underperform.
Isn’t that a hoot? In this elevated social set, it goes down better at cocktail parties for these women to mention they are importing matsutake mushrooms or designing diamond nose studs than simply raising rugrats.
It’s clearly not singing from the feminist songbook to suggest that the presence of a well-heeled husband could result in women choosing to dabble in unprofitable businesses rather than pursuing careers. Hence no one is allowed to publish research showing this is the case and even the most eminent journal reviewers meekly toe the party line.
I’ve been hearing such stories for decades. Research challenging the current cultural dogma simply doesn’t get published and students writing theses on the wrong topics can’t find supervisors or end up not qualifying for their degrees.
One of the most striking essays included in Janice Fiamengo’s book, Sons of Feminism, was written by an Australian astronomer who ultimately decided to leave the country due to the invasion of his discipline by feminist and social justice politics.
Janice has given permission for me to share his thoughtful analysis with you – see here – as he explains exactly how the playing field is being systematically tilted to favour women.
Here, in his own words, is what life is like for an academic dealing with this climate:
Before telescope-time or grant application meetings, we are now commonly subjected to patronizing speeches by diversity figureheads, who remind us how important it is to be fair to female applicants, how we should think twice before rejecting their applications, and how we should be mindful of gender balance and role models in our selection. It is a low-level form of brainwashing. We know that if we select too many male applicants (even if we do it on merit) our choice and motives will be scrutinized, monitored, criticized. Instead, if we select a few more female applicants (even if not all on merit), we will be praised and left in peace. Most astronomers unsurprisingly choose the path of least resistance.
And this is the result:
Some astronomers still spend most of their time researching and monitoring the sky; others instead spend most of their time researching and monitoring gender balance within astronomy departments, setting up equity-and-diversity committees, writing 200-page reports on discrimination, conferring awards to themselves for their social-justice work, making up new types of privileges, and running blogs full of political propaganda. Unfortunately, funding is shrinking for the former class of astronomers like me and is ever-expanding for the latter.
Before this academic left Australia, the writing was already on the wall:
To obtain a good job, a male astronomer needs to be in the top 10 % of male applicants, while a female astronomer only needs to be average.
(As an aside, I can’t resist showing you one of the latest excursions into identity politics from the Astronomical Society of Australia. Take a look at this statement on Black Lives Matter.)
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