Gender Disparities Part 2: Disparities and Discrimination

This is the post number 5 in a series of posts on sex and gender. In my last post, I introduced some theories that try to explain why we see differences in occupation and income between males and females. One prominent theory suggests that disparities between men and women automatically imply discrimination. According to this theory, a lessening of disparities is caused by a lessening of discrimination due to pressures of government, the feminist movement, or a general increase in enlightenment. I will call this theory (X). My coworker told me that she explicitly believes in (X) and I have heard it advocated by mainstream media. The purpose of this post is to show that theory (X) is a self-refuting theory.

Let me first define discrimination. Discrimination means treating members of particular groups less favorably than similar members of other groups. The economist Thomas Sowell said, "Discrimination may be practiced by private employers, landlords, or institutions. However, if words are to have any fixed meanings— without which discussions are fruitless—the term cannot be extended to all situations in which some groups turn out to have less favorable outcomes than others."

Discrimination against a gender is different than sexism. Sexism is a type of a bias or prejudice and exists only in people's minds. Discrimination is different from sexism because it is an overt act that takes place outside of the mind and effects the lives of other people.

Theory (X) assumes that if there is any disparity at all, then discrimination is the de facto cause. Why does theory (X) assume discrimination? Because it assumes that men and women are identical. If this premise is true, then conclusion seems to be valid. I wrote 3 posts essentially proving that men and women are born with significant psychological differences. But setting aside that evidence for a moment and looking at the formal qualities of theory (X), I think that theory (X) contains an internal contradiction.

If men and women are the same at birth, then the tendency of one sex would be identical in the other sex. Therefore, women would be just as likely to discriminate against men as men are against women. Since the discrimination against each side would be exactly equal, the discrimination of one side would negate the discrimination of the other side and disparities shouldn't exist at all. The fact that discrimination against only one sex exists at all, ought to be counted as proof that men and women are born different. To put it another way, the theory that disparities between men and women must be caused by discrimination must assume that men and women are different and it must assume that they are identical. Hence it is a self-refuting theory.