Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Equality - On The Basis of Merit

Equality - On The Basis of Merit

Redditor Psyladine wrote a fairly detailed idea about why the argument "The most qualified person should get the job" lacks a certain amount of understanding. I wanted to save and share widely this contextual view for consideration.

'most qualified' implies the 'most qualified' inherently seek out the position. What affirmative action seeks to address is that half of all available brain power, i.e. women, are not pursuing the industry.

Since men already pursue the industry disproportionately we'd have to rule out a common factor explaining this discrepancy, the remainder then seems to be a contentious choice between implicit bias in the industry on the basis of gender, hidden disincentives towards women, or a factor inherent in the women themselves independent of the industry. Given the prevalence of sexual discrimination laws and the very existence of the civil rights movement, the third, while convenient in placing the burden of evidence on the non-participating gender, seems a bit too convenient.

The reaction to even token participation of women in the industry as being contrary to a meritocracy is evidence of that bias itself. When there is a disparity, corrective action does seem heavy handed, but the disparity itself is the issue, not the beneficiaries of positive incentives.

Let's look at it from a different angle. Say there's a fascinating industry directly relevant to the interest of the 18-45 crowd, massive entertainment industry here, nearly 100 billion a year.

When you look at the employment in that industry, you find out out of 10 people, only 2 are white to the 8 black (maybe a sliver of one goes towards latino or other minority).
The very fact of its distribution creates a specific mental image and set of preconceived assumptions about that industry, assuming you aren't part of the 80%. Sure, you might get in edgewise, you might even make it, but you will always be an outlier, an exception, and possibly, god forbid, a token used by the industry to ward off possible discriminatory action by the state.

This isn't about a 50/50 distribution so much as it is assessing a disparity and critically weighing whether that disparity is innate, cultural, social, or even purposeful and self perpetuating.

For the white programmer in the gaming world, you are the 80%. To hear that someone doesn't feel included, well, what's it to you? It's your club, your environment. If they want to belong bad enough, they'll bend until they fit into yours.

But it doesn't seem right, does it? Or maybe it does, and you don't know why it should ever be different. After all, if they aren't already a significant corpus in the industry, maybe they just don't belong there, right? Culturally, of course.