An appearance at a House of Commons inquiry

Yesterday I gave evidence to a House of Commons inquiry into ‘Women in the Workplace’, in a panel along with Catherine Hakim (sociologist), Heather McGregor (businesswoman and a committee member of the 30% club), and Steve Moxon (researcher and author).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwqTi6HN0pM

The session started off in a curious manner, with the chairman, a Labour MP, asking me the following question:

You mentioned in your submission that men are more likely to become engineers and women are more likely to become nurses. Why do you think that is?

I wasn’t prepared for a question along these lines, partly because an email from a clerk to the committee stated that ‘witnesses’ would be given prior warning of ‘possible lines of questioning’, and this hadn’t been mooted. My personal belief is that gender-typical differences are mainly biological in origin – drawing on books by eminent psychology professors including Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain and The Male Brain, Simon Baron-Cohen’s The Essential Difference and Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate – so I outlined that position. With the benefit of hindsight, I suspect the question was intended to lead me to talk about biologically-based gender differences, because the viewpoint is hotly disputed, and thereby harm my credibility as a witness. You live and learn.

A belief in gender-typical differences isn’t universally held by supporters of C4MB, and one of our most prominent supporters fundamentally disagrees with it. I should have pointed that out, and also said that the source of gender-typical preferences is irrelevant to this campaign. In the meantime, in an effort to keep an open mind on the matter, I shall be reading material written by a number of researchers who dispute the existence of biologically-based gender-typical differences which are of importance in relation to the world of work. Let it never be said that C4MB isn’t open to alternative viewpoints.

With hindsight I should instead have replied that there are a number of theories explaining the source of gender-typical preferences, but in a sense they’re irrelevant, because governments simply shouldn’t be in the business of seeking to change individual preferences.

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About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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4 Responses to An appearance at a House of Commons inquiry

  1. pjanus says:

    Hello Mike,

    Glad to have been able to send a little traffic your way from a Voice For Men. I have posted on your site previously under my own name.

    I seem to be a pessimist these days – probably a result of watching and reading what the elites are upto – and did not mean to cast doubt on your sterling work, but it seems to me that no matter the evidence the ‘ruling class’ just carry on and make it up as they go along, to achieve their desired outcome.

    A Voice For Men has readers from all over the world, including Europe – for instance the man who invited you to submit an article, is a skin cancer specialist from Australia – so it might be worthwhile writing an article if you can find the time.

    Philip

    • Philip, many thanks. It’s certainly all too easy to become pessimistic, but I think the future lies less in trying to defeat feminism as an ideology, and more in fighting winnable battles on an issue-by-issue basis. So for example I don’t campaign on Domestic Violence against men because plenty of men are are already doing so, with increasing success. Our associated organisation Campaign for Merit in Buiness http://c4mb.wordpress.com remains – to the best of my knowledge – the only organisation in the world dedicated to fighting the scourge of quotas for women in the boardroom (and the threat of them). We’re making headway because the evidence base is very much behind us, and we live and breathe this single issue 24/7. In the space of just six months we’ve got national TV/radio/newspaper coverage, and managed to change the debate in the UK. No proponents of ‘improving’ gender diversity in boardrooms now claims that it would result in enhanced corporate financial performance. A year ago, almost all of them did. Translating all this into changes in government policies and legislation is, of course, another thing entirely – but we’re well and truly on the case, we’re becoming more effective with each passing month, and I truly think we’ll get there.

  2. I fail to see that your take using biology to defend occupational preferences by men and women should be regretable. I suggest that you not accept the terms provided by others to make your stand. Alan Millard

    ________________________________

    • Alan, many thanks. There are sometimes differences between what I personally believe, and the beliefs of others involved with the campaign, and this is a prime example. I need to distinguish between personal beliefs, and beliefs which all of us involved with the campaign are comfortable with. Also, the theory that biological differences underpin gender-typical natures, life choices etc. simply isn’t central to the key argument of the campaign, which is that artificially ‘improving’ gender diversity on boards leads to a decline in corporate financial performance (as evidenced by the five longitudinal studies). The explanations for that decline are a separate issue. We need to focus our energies on publicising that the decline exists, rather than expend time and effort on explaining why it does. I’m sure eventually we’ll be able to spend more time on the ‘why?’ question, but for the time being it’s all a matter of prioritisation and deployment of limited resources.

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