Gender bias - People are confused about what they are talking about

First, I STRONGLY recommend people view the following discussion.

Gender Bias IAT Talk

It talks about IAT's - Implicit Assessment Tests that measure subconscious bias. But the word bias is a loaded term and implies all sorts of negative connotations, what it really measures (for good or ill) are differential expectations within human beings. THAT is a large chunk of what people consider gender bias. And frankly, some of that is perfectly reasonable.

Most people, myself included would find it harder to associate women with gamers because we see fewer examples of that around us. This association and expectation is, at its core, EMPIRICAL. We make observations about the world, and our expectations about the likelihood a given female would be as into gaming as a typical guy is usually lower. There is nothing inherently pernicious about that, and to assert that expectation away does not work. The ONLY way to cut away at those sorts of unconscious IAT type biases is to change the empirical observations.

In the talk it was mentioned that younger people showed a diminished effect of IAT gender bias, to borrow what I wrote in the comments there:

"With women you have example after example of women doing similar jobs as men, and being more and more represented in working society and higher education. You have plentiful and NUMEROUS counterexamples to break up the empirical data our minds may have amassed over the years."

And that is the key. Now I don't expect all of the "bias" or differential expectations to go away. I don't expect everything to go away because I don't assume that the basic interests of men and women as groups are perfectly identical.

There are some negative consequences to these biases, the music example was a good one where there was an expectation that male musicians were better than female musicians, leading to a selection bias. The solution was to simply drop the curtain on the names and have blind listening selection where the deciders of who would be included in the orchestra had no idea who was male and female. That circumvented any negative consequences of the expectation bias and the numbers of women increased. That is the sort of thing I think would be useful where applicable.

I also know that that bias against women in technical fields leads people to place less authority on what they say. One of my female colleagues complained that when she explained something to a male client they sometimes did not take her word for it and wanted to hear it from a man. I believe that phenomenon is real because it's not the only example I have heard about. I know another woman in the indie game dev community who was talking to me about trying to manage a small team. She said she sometimes had to get one of her male partners to get on the other guys to stop slacking off on a project because when she said the same thing it carried less weight. Again, I think that sort of expectation exists and it is pernicious.

How do you combat that type of thing? I don't know, but one thing I am CERTAIN of, is that even if we stamp out all of these biases and differential expectations, I do NOT expect identical levels of men and women to be represented in EVERY field. Because once you have solved the distortions of society and institutions, you still have to deal with the distortions of preferences, and if some of those are influenced by biology, tough luck egalitarians.

I for one think a war on personal preference is a bridge too far, and that certainly exists in the world, and there is nothing pernicious about THAT.

Just ask the male dominated kickstarter backers for games:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/obsidian/project-eternity/backers

equality of opportunity =/= equality of outcome.

Some of that we may want to address, but some of it is benign and ought to be left alone.