Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Case for Inclusion and Diversity in the Tech Sector

This article starts out talking about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) knowledge and morphs into a discussion of diversity generally.  The authors seem to miss that what happens in STEM jobs largely contradicts what they say about diversity.

Predictably, they say that diversity in top management is a very good thing and makes more money for the firm concerned.

But as they say about hi-tech, there are very few females there and yet hi-tech flourishes.  We are supposed to believe that it would flourish even more with more female managers.

Whether that is true depends on two things:  The diversity effect being significant and STEM fields being much like any other field.  Both assumptions are very questionable.  STEM expertise -- and IT expertise in particular -- requires very high levels of IQ and such levels are mostly found among males.  So STEM is different from the start.

The evidence for benefit from diversity that the writers below quote is the much belaboured report from Kinsey & Co which first came out in 2007 and was reissued in 2015. I have read the passages in that repoprt that detail their analyses.

We can dismiss the female effect straight off.  They found that having females aboard went with a 5% improvement in performance in the UK but only a 1% improvement in the USA.  So unsexy boards are not worth bothering with in the USA but have some point in the UK.

What is different about the UK and how can that difference explain what McKinsey found? This being Britain, it almost certainly has to do with social class.  In Britain, people who went to the expensive private schools are at the top of every heap.  Britain is run by "old boy" networks.  It seems likely, however, that in searching for able female managers, that network had to be broken down to some extent.  It was only by looking outside traditional talent pools that many able females could be found.  So in Britain it was opening up to "lesser" social classes that drew in more management talent rather than opening up to women.

So the evidence in favor of female diversity is just not there.

What about ethnic diversity? Here the report is very misleading, possibly deliberately so.  They fail to discriminate between ethnicities. From reading them we would very readily conclude that whether a firm had 3 Asian or 3 blacks on its board would not matter.  But given the vast record of black educational failure we would have to conclude that the contribution of blacks to a hi-tech firm's results would be very small.  We would have to suspect that it is only in token roles that blacks are there at all.

But, when it comes to brilliant Chinese or exceptional communicators like Indians, one can readily believe that they would make a useful difference on almost any management team.  And it would in fact mostly have been an Asian presence that made a firm "diverse" in McKinsey's study. So a more precise summary of the evidence -- that having Asians in your team was beneficial -- would have been a much more helpful guide.  As they stand, the actual conclusions are politically correct rubbish

“The uncomfortable truth is that the technology industry today is not a place in which everyone, of any gender, race, disability, religion, sexuality, and socioeconomic background can thrive and succeed,” said Francesca Warner, CEO of Diversity VC, in Diversity & Inclusion in Tech’s report. In November 2018, a Guardian headline pointed to a “worrying” lack of diversity in Britain’s tech sector. Only 15% of the tech workforce are from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds, while gender diversity lies at 19%—compared to 49% for all other jobs (Diversity in Tech, 2019). Meanwhile, the proportion of men and women appointed as tech directors has remained almost the same since 2000—only 22% of tech directors were women in 2018 (Tech Nation).

And this isn’t just a problem in the U.K. The European tech community as a whole is dominated by men. Research by Atomico notes that out of the 175 large start-ups they surveyed, only one had a female chief technology officer. Even roles like chief marketing officer and chief financial officer that are often held by women, were held by men 80% of the time. The report stated that the industry was failing to make any meaningful progress, and that there had only been a single percentage point increase in the level of female participation at European tech community events in the last two years.

Check Warner from Diversity VC wrote in Atomico’s report: “Europe is not necessarily tangibly better or worse than other tech hubs. However, given that Europe has such a diverse range of geographies and people this should be a key strength.”

While looking at how funding is allocated, the gender imbalance is striking. All-male founding teams received 93% of the capital invested in 2018, compared to just 5% received by all-female founding teams. The report notes that these figures have shown little to no improvement in the last five years.

Restoring gender balance to the tech sector

Today, technology is dominated by men. But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, the world’s first programmer, Ada Lovelace, was a woman. In the 1940s, Lovelace turned a complex formula into simple calculations that could be fed into a mechanical computer. She was also the first person to realize that a general purpose computer could do anything, given the right data and instructions.

So how did we get here? And can we rebalance the gender gap in the tech sector? Tech Talent Charter—an initiative that drives organizations to deliver greater diversity in the U.K. tech workforce, is aiming to do just that. The CEO Debbie Forster said, “If everything is going to be digital and this huge disruption is coming in terms of artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is essential that the minds creating these technologies are minds that represent the whole population.”

The Charter has signatories ranging from tech giants like Microsoft, Salesforce and Cisco, to banks and organizations including Lloyds Bank, the BBC, Cancer Research UK, Domino’s Pizza, and a number of SMEs and start-ups.

“All of the statistics show that companies with more diverse teams are more profitable, more sustainable, and more able to survive disruption,” said Forster. “Companies are waking up and realizing that it’s not just a good thing to do, it’s not even just a smart thing to do, it’s essential.”

“The uncomfortable truth is that the technology industry today is not a place in which everyone, of any gender, race, disability, religion, sexuality, and socioeconomic background can thrive and succeed.”

According to McKinsey & Company, companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability. And it’s not just gender. The same research showed that companies with high ethnic and cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability. “I’m not bothered to chase every company to join us because the market is going to reward those who do,” said Forster. “Diversity is bottom line profitability.”

More HERE 

Is cheese bad for you? You may be surprised by its health secrets

Stop cheating on cheddar. Its links to cardiovascular disease are tenuous and it may prevent diabetes

Can anyone resist a cheeseboard? Clearly not the 92 per cent of us who, according to a report on the UK cheese market, eat cheese at least once a week. Somewhat unfairly, though, the tastier a cheese, the higher in calories and fat it is likely to be, and for years we’ve been warned to resist eating much of it for the sake of our waistlines and our hearts.

Still, nutritionists tell us that cheese is a good source of magnesium and calcium, as well as vitamins A, B2 and B12. This makes it “a complete protein” food, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids needed to build and repair the body’s tissues.

The caveat has always been the saturated fat content of cheese and its less than favourable association with the health of our arteries. Now, though, some researchers claim that cheese’s links with cardiovascular disease are tenuous. In newly published guidelines based on a two-year review of recent evidence, Australia’s national health service has relaxed its view on cheese, suggesting that it’s fine to eat full-fat dairy (unless you have heart disease) and that cheese may have particular health benefits.

In the UK the latest review by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition review, published in August, recommends that foods high in saturated fat, such as cheese, should be eaten sparingly, but for how long will this view last? Research part-funded by the British Heart Foundation has questioned the guidelines about the type of fat we eat and even the most cautious observers concede that the future for cheese lovers is brighter.

“We do now know that there are different types of saturated fat and that the saturated fat in dairy and cheese is not as bad for us as was once thought,” says Linia Patel, a dietician and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association (BDA). Some recent cheese studies have shown that it may play a preventive role, warding off conditions typically associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes.

Cheese has a low glycaemic index (GI), meaning it won’t trigger blood sugar spikes. “Adding any high-protein food such as cheese to dishes like mashed potato or pasta will lower the GI of that meal, helping to counteract the rush of glucose,” says the dietician Helen Bond, a BDA spokeswoman.

In May a team from the University of Alberta published results of a trial they had carried out on pre-diabetic laboratory rats that were fed regular and low-fat cheese. Both types were found to reduce insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to high blood-sugar levels and a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. “The cheese didn’t normalise the effects of insulin, but it significantly improved them,” wrote Catherine Chan, the professor of agricultural, life and environmental sciences who led the study. “And it didn’t matter whether it was low-fat or regular cheese.”

Select aged cheeses — brie, stilton and other blues, mature cheddar, parmesan and gruyère — and it’s a step towards extending your lifespan. A compound called spermidine, found in aged cheeses as well as in mushrooms and soy products, seemed to help to prevent liver cancer in a study carried out at Texas A&M University health centre two years ago. When researchers gave lab animals an oral supplement of spermidine, the animals lived longer and were less likely to have cancerous liver tumours than untreated animals. Leyuan Liu, assistant professor in the university’s Center for Translational Cancer Research, described the increase in lifespan as “dramatic”, with the animals having the cheese compound living as much as 25 per cent longer. “In human terms,” she said, “that would mean that instead of living to about 81 years old, the average American could live to be over 100.”

Even if the effect is not that impressive, your gut will thank you for it. Aged cheeses are fermented and contain a range of beneficial bacteria that boost the microbiome and in turn ramp up immunity and all-round good health.

“Most aged cheeses contain some live microbes,” says Dr Megan Rossi, a research fellow in gut health at King’s College London. “The microbes can come from various places — some are added to the milk or to help ripen a cheese, while others are from the environment in which the cheeses are aged — and can benefit our gut health.”

Cheese is also good for your teeth. A study published in the journal General Dentistry in 2013 is one of several to report that a regular consumption of cheese may help to protect teeth against cavities.

“Cheese is slightly more alkaline so it helps to neutralise plaque acids that form after eating,” says Dr Nigel Carter, the chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation. “The acid formed by sugar in foods causes the pH level in our mouths to drop for about 40 to 50 minutes after we have eaten and you can speed up the return to balance by eating a small piece of cheese following a meal.”

And there’s no truth in the belief that you shouldn’t eat cheese before going to bed. “The only very distant link,” Rossi says, “would be that if you suffer from reflux, having large amounts of a high-fat cheese before bed may exacerbate your symptoms. Otherwise it is fine to eat it with or after an evening meal. It won’t do your teeth any harm to eat cheese in the evening.” Varieties such as cottage cheese and ricotta might even help you to nod off by aiding the production of sleep hormones, Patel says.


White supremacist problem is much exaggerated

They are largely an invention of their Leftist enemies

Considering the amount of publicity they get, one could be forgiven for thinking that white supremacists are a major force on the political landscape. Their protests make international headlines, their leaders are well known, and now, without firing a single shot, they’ve managed to take over a symbol that has been used by people around the world for decades.

Yes, that’s right, the OK hand sign, that near-enough universal finger-and-thumb indication of affirmation or assent, has now been appropriated by racists. That is according to the Anti-Defamation League, a US-based NGO, which announced last week that the OK hand sign has become a ‘sincere expression of white supremacy’. The ADL says the OK symbol has become a ‘popular trolling tactic’ from ‘right-leaning individuals’, who post images of themselves, posing while making the gesture, on social media.

How have white supremacists, these merchants of hate, managed to reach such levels of prominence and power? Is it through great marketing? The promise of a fulfilling life burning crosses in the woods? Or perhaps their racist arguments now resonate with an ever-growing number of people?

If it were any of those reasons, we would be justified in seriously panicking. But the facts tell a different story.

The biggest white-supremacist protest in recent decades, in Charlottesville, Virginia, attracted only a few hundred people. Richard Spencer, the most prominent figure in the white supremacist movement, has 77,000 followers on Twitter (and presumably not all of them subscribe to his views). And the claim that the OK symbol is white supremacist started off as a joke, on an internet messageboard, intended to troll self-styled lefties.

So who is artificially inflating this movement’s strength? Who is empowering it? Oddly enough, it is the very people who are dedicated to opposing it.

Organisations such as the Anti-Defamation League, which are dedicated to monitoring and combating ‘hate speech’, need to point to instances of it in order to justify their existence. To be fair to the ADL, when adding the OK symbol to its Hate Symbols Database, it acknowledged that ‘[t]he overwhelming usage of the “okay” hand gesture today is still its traditional purpose as a gesture signifying assent or approval’. But this raises the question as to why a media blitz warning people of its other usage was necessary.

Campaigning organisations like the ADL will claim they are raising awareness of the far-right threat in our midst. But their headline-grabbing activity is having the opposite ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect. Moreover, by finding signs of racism everywhere, even in an innocuous hand gesture, they are bringing actual racists into the mainstream by proxy.

Does this mean that white supremacists don’t exist, or should be ignored? Of course not. The US Department of Homeland Security now considers domestic terrorism, in particular white-supremacist terrorism, as being as big a threat to the US as foreign terrorism. But those of us who truly oppose racism should go to great lengths to ensure that we are not giving its pathetic perpetrators free publicity. Or else there is a genuine risk that claiming white supremacists are on the rise will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


We Must Fight the Sexualization of Children by Adults

Childhood used to be a time of innocence. But as our culture has become more and more sexualized, children have become the casualties of adult exploitation.

The New York Times just reported that more than 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused were reported by tech companies, more than double what they found the previous year.

In culture, education, and health care, American children also are increasingly targeted for sexual messages, images, and themes at younger ages. Sometimes, this is even supported by taxpayer money through government-led initiatives.

Our culture is saturated with sexual content that was once considered too risqué for children, and social media has accelerated the spread of pornography to young viewers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that in the United States, 42% of children between 10 and 17 have viewed pornography online.

Social media also has become prime hunting ground for sex traffickers. In March 2019, Instagram was reportedly the leading social media platform for child grooming by sexual predators.

A recent poll of 2,000 teens found that nearly 75% had received pornographic direct messages from strangers, even if they had a private account. And 55% of victims of sex trafficking in 2015 met their abuser through a website, app, or text.

The sexualization of children is occurring in brick-and-mortar spaces too as “drag queen story hours,” in which cross-dressing adult entertainers interact with children in taxpayer-funded local libraries, have appeared across the country.

In education, the United Nations promotes Comprehensive Sexual Education around the world. In America, groups such as Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network promote “comprehensive” sexual education, which includes instruction about homosexual practices, transgender theory, and abortion.

Colorado mandates such curriculum for students in elementary school and recently considered stripping away parental opt-out provisions.

Sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum is not limited to sex education. California, New Jersey, and Illinois passed laws requiring schools to teach about the “political, social, and economic contributions of … lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” which frequently include dubious assertions about the sexual orientation or gender identity of historical figures that are irrelevant to their achievements.

The House of Representatives recently passed the Equality Act, which would amend Title IV of the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. This curriculum could be required if the Equality Act were to become law.

The Department of Education under the Obama administration pressured schools to implement transgender policies that pose risks to children’s privacy and safety. In Georgia, Pascha Thomas’ 5-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted in a restroom at an elementary school that adopted a gender identity-based access policy without notifying parents.

Efforts to expose children to age-inappropriate content and make parental notification and opt-out difficult or impossible undermine parents’ constitutional right to control their children’s education on sensitive topics such as human sexuality. Public schools should not become a place where children are exposed to radical sexual ideology.

Finally, the increased prevalence of transgender ideology in culture and education has narrowed the treatment options for children with gender dysphoria.

Transgender activists pressure both doctors and parents to consent to “gender-affirming medical treatment” for children who otherwise likely would grow to accept their bodies. Such treatment typically starts with puberty blockers at age 8, cross-sex hormones at 14, and genital surgery for boys as young as 17. In one case, a 13-year-old girl was given a double mastectomy.

The detrimental side effects of hormones, such as increased depression, loss of bone density, and sterility, are well-known. Yet 15 states have banned counseling for gender-dysphoric children that would help them become comfortable with their biological sex.

The Equality Act, if passed, would make medical professionals liable to lawsuits for gender identity discrimination if they declined to do “sex reassignment” procedures on children, regardless of conscientious objection or best medical judgment.

The Trump administration reversed policies under the Obama administration that created the same liabilities, but parents continue to find that the medical system and the legal system are working against them. In Ohio, a couple lost custody of their daughter because they refused to allow her to take testosterone.

Combating the premature sexualization of children by adults requires focused attention from both lawmakers and courageous parents.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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