Alt-right ideologue and vocal Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos just wrote a gem of a sexist piece for Breitbart asking for a cap of 5-10% for females to enter STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). He is concerned that if female participation would be above that level society would be “giving in to ideology and social engineering, rather than looking at what the numbers say and respecting women’s choices.”
The problem with Mr Yiannopoulos is that some of the facts and numbers he presents to back up his proposal are pulled out of thin air. One paragraph crucial to his overall thesis is the following:
“In Norway and Sweden, some of the most progressive, female-friendly places in the world, the number of women studying maths and science collapses to single figures. What this tells us is that, given every opportunity to choose, women stubbornly refuse to study the subjects feminists would like them to.”
When checking this claim I found an article stating that in Norway “only a third of those who study mathematics, natural sciences or technological fields are women.” And at the postgraduate level the following occurs in Sweden: ” … if one compares the percentage of women and the number of men who have left academia five years after the award of a doctoral degree, one sees that in all disciplines except social sciences, contrary to stereotypes, more men are likely to leave academia than women …”
To spell it out: “One third” is at least a whopping 330% more than Yiannopoulos’ “single figures” as far as Swedish females studying math and science is concerned, and staying in academia more than men can hardly be equated with Yiannopoulos’ claim of females “stubbornly refuse to study”. Ergo, Yiannopoulos just makes things up to bolster his sexist policy proposal.
This manner of making a case, which can only be characterized as ‘conclusion-based writing skewered towards sexism’, is very troubling and should be exposed as such. It’s fine for this writer to have opinions, but he has to have some decency to respect the facts, which, as shown in an analysis of a speech he recently gave at the University of Pittsburgh, he does not have. When unsupported premises start to be treated as facts, then arguing becomes almost futile. And that’s exactly the toxic MO of Breitbart and Trump.
The long-term effect of this prejudiced mindset is to further delay the in my opinion necessary adoption in the US of best and most socially just practices from European social democracies. Instead, what the US will be experiencing during the trump administration is a, hopefully temporary, counter-spurt in the overall civilizational process towards impulse control and empathy.
Meanwhile, as of February 2017, because of making controversial statements generally interpreted as favoring pedophilia, Yiannopoulos was disinvited from appearing at a conservative conference, lost a book deal with a prominent publisher and resigned from Breitbart.
. Yiannopoulos, Milo. “Here’s Why There Ought to Be a Cap on Women Studying Science and Maths“. Breitbart. 15 Jun 2015.
. Armundsen, Bard. “Women and men still study completely different university subjects“. ScienceNordic. 26 Aug 2015.
. Kamerlin, Shina. “Where are the female science professors? A personal perspective“. F1000Research 5:1224. 6 Jun 2016.
. Goddard, Audrey. “I fact checked Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech and it was nonsense“. The Tab. 4 Aug 2015.