Wednesday, August 9, 2017

- On Sex Differences And Google

Take a stroll through the quant Trading world, and it looks a lot like Google. Overwhelmingly male, over representation of east Asians and Ashkenazi, with a pretty widespread mix of the rest of the tribes of Europe. A smattering of Irish, a smattering of English, some German, some Spanish and Italian maybe one or two non ashkenazi Russians or a south asian. It's a group selected from the outliers of everyone else. Being exceptional is the ticket required for admittance. After 2 decades in that field, I'm on a speaking basis with more people who finished first in their class in College than I am with people who dropped out of school or downgraded their major.

So it's with more than a little irony that when I think of who was the smartest of them all, the very first person who springs to mind is a woman. My immediate supervisor during my time at Tudor, is very possible the smartest human I've ever met. It gets a little tough to say for certain out there in the right tail of the distribution. But after a career spent explaining ideas to people that I knew they wouldn't understand, she's the only one I can think of who always 'got it', every single time. She always knew the next question to ask, and had clear rational ideas about where it would lead. And she wasn't that way with just me, she was that way with everyone. Every one of the geniuses in the department, each with their own exotic specialty and unique view. She was the only person I know who could think through all of their models as well as any of them could.

This I think, is what James Damore was saying. He wasn't saying that women should be kept out of tech or that women are biologically unsuited to working in that environment. He was saying that there is a genetic predisposition of women to seek other paths to success. He was saying that women's preferences lead them down other roads, and that if Google focused on excellence, then the only women they would want to end up with are those who are like my old supervisor. If that means there is only one of them, then that's all the better.

I've mentioned before that after a long career where everyone around me was a genius, I've sort of forgotten how 'dim' average seems in comparison. Well it turns out that though women have IQ's very similar to men on average, out in the far tails, it's a little different. And there are considerably more men with an IQ above 145 (3std) than women. I don't think anyone knows why.

But just because they are rare doesn't mean there are none. And though women obviously shouldn't be discouraged from pursuing careers that require an IQ in that range, if things truly are being handled 'fairly', no one should be surprised when fewer women turn up in them. It's just a matter of numbers.

No comments: