Observations on the Sexual Abuse in STEM Departments Report

By Pat Frank – Re-Blogged From WUWT

A few days ago, Charles TM posted an essay about the recent National Academy Report, “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine,” [1] which can be found at WUWT here.

Apparently, the NAS Report is so outspoken about widespread abuse of women in academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments that Senators Kamala Harris, Jacky Rosen, and Richard Blumenthal plan to introduce legislation to effect a rescue.

The NAS Report purports the case that not only is the sexual abuse of women wide-spread, but also that the patriarchic hierarchical structure in STEM departments cultivates an intersectionally abusive environment where sexual harassment of women becomes likely.

Before proceeding, we need to acknowledge that there have been instances of sexual abuse in the STEM academy that were widely discussed. Well-publicized examples include one at Berkeley in 2015, one at Yale in 2014, one at CalTech in 2016, one at the University of Chicago in 2016, one involving three women at the University of Alabama in 2013, one at Arizona State University in 2015. There are serious episodes involving real abuses and real victims.

The issue, however, is not about episodic abuse, which is pretty much inevitable anywhere there are large numbers of men and women working under one roof (I get to this issue below. Abuses arise with the appearance of low-probability personality types in statistically valid populations).

Rather, the issue is about whether the data support a conclusion that sexual harassment of women is wide-spread in academic STEM departments and that the environment in STEM departments cultivates the sexual harassment of women.

The NAS Report came to roost at Stanford in October last year (2018 if you’re a reader from the distant future). After giving it a look-through, I decided to investigate the same question as I did in 2001 when the IPCC TAR came out: are the accusatory polemics justified?

Well, guess what. …

This will be a summary. The full assessment is 30 journal-like pages plus five Figures, two Tables and 139 citations; long and involved.

So, here’s the summary:

· The NAS Report traverses from wrong to meaningless.

· It misrepresents the literature.

· It misrepresents its own data, purveying false and inflated rates of sexual harassment.

· It is a product of almost unprecedented scholarly incompetence.

· It is calculated to stampede universities into a false moral panic.

· It is the opening barrage of the academic Cultural Studies warriors’ war to wreck science.

Those who wish the Full Monty can download a pdf for themselves here (876 kB). Please choose the “slow download” option. It’s fast enough and you’ll avoid pecuniary offers. Also, the file has no viruses.

If you read and like it, please feel free to pass it along to wherever or whomever you think it might do some good.

The full assessment critiques the survey methodology of the NAS Report. It examines the personality aspects of sexual harassment. It introduces and literature-validates the sexual harassment males by females, by their peculiar power of sexualized display in inappropriate venues.

The full assessment also discusses a widespread and generalized defamation of males by a foolish statistical inference that falsely paints every male as a potential abuser.

The last part diagnoses the NAS report itself as the opening attack of Cultural Studies warriors war of aggression on science itself. They intend its destruction. The final paragraphs here return to this.

This post just summarizes the problems with the NAS Report itself, and then moves into who actually sexually abuses.

Part I: The National Academy Report on sexual harassment in STEM fields misrepresents or omits critically central scholarship, and mangles its own analysis.

The Report relies upon sexual abuse statistics generated by a large-scale survey on the campuses of the University of Texas system. The survey used a version of the “Sexual Experiences Questionnaire,” (SEQ).

The SEQ was developed by Louise Fitzgerald in 1988. [2] The UT survey was a modification of a second version of the SEQ published in 1995. [3]

The SEQ version used by the NAS Report was yet a third version and had four sections. Each section asked a set of four questions about one level of sexualized experience. Each succeeding section (factors, in the parlance), asked about increasingly personal interactions.

Here’s the set of four questions for the first factor of the NAS SEQ, for example:

1. Sexist Hostility/Sexist Gender Harassment: Unwanted and unwelcomed words, actions, symbols, gestures, and behaviors that are based on sex or gender and characteristically repetitive.

1.1. Treated you “differently” because of your sex.

1.2. Displayed, used, or distributed sexist or suggestive materials.

1.3. Made offensive sexist remarks.

1.4. Put you down or was condescending to you because of your sex.

The second set of factors asked about, “Sexual Hostility/Crude Gender Harassment.” The third set was, “Unwanted Sexual Attention,” and factor set four was, “Sexual Coercion.” None of the factors asked about violent sexual abuse or rape.

The 1988 and 1995 versions of the SEQ ended with, “Have you ever been sexually harassed?” (1988 version) or the statement “I have been sexually harassed” (1995version). These are called the criterion question or statement.

Positive answers to the criterion question permitted concluding that the SEQ behaviors added up to harassment. Negative or blank criterion answers implied the respondent didn’t feel harassed by the experiences.

The meaning of each SEQ question is open to the sensitivity of the respondent.

For example, 1.1 could be answered ‘yes’ if a male held a door open for a given woman. Some women take umbrage at that. Others appreciate it. 1.2 might be a sex-joke birthday card. 1.3 might be taking offense at, ‘men are such beasts!’ 1.4 might be, ‘that stuff is too heavy for you to carry alone (said by someone of one sex to someone of the other).

These examples are all innocuous of course, but nevertheless each one positively meets the requirement of the question. The questions are all very ambiguous and have no context. Individual sensitivity to umbrage-taking varies.

As I’ll show later, there are sex-related differences in personality. Merely mentioning sex-differences to someone could energize offense-taking under any and all of the factor one questions.

This ambiguity was among the very serious criticisms Prof. Barbara Gutek and her colleagues made of the SEQ back in 2004. [4]

Here’s a summary of their critical findings concerning the SEQ:

1. The SEQ is not strong in accuracy or precision.

2. Test, re-test data are poor.

3. The causal direction of harassment is left ambiguous.

4. The SEQ is not standardized. There are several variants. SEQ results cannot be trended across time or space.

5. The SEQ over-reports the prevalence of sexual harassment.

6. The SEQ wording does not allow one to conclude any respondent was personally overwhelmed or felt threatened by the experiences.

7. A far larger fraction report SEQ experiences than answer the criterion question/statement that they felt sexually harassed (a big problem for researchers looking to butter their academic bread with sexual harassment.).

8. Cross correlation between the SEQ factors is about 0.72.

The causality criticism of item 3 is fundamental. Does a given SEQ score mean that a harassment-tolerating environment caused the sexualized work behaviors? Or does it mean sexualized work behaviors caused the respondent to infer a harassment-tolerating environment?

The former is the researcher favorite, because it allows them to conclude that social construction causes sexual harassment, rather than that harassment comes from individual behavioral choices. The social construction bad-boy of choice is the patriarchal hierarchy; very convenient if one makes a career as a cultural studies warrior.

Another sign of professionalism among the NAS authors is that they left the criterion question off their survey. This allowed them to promote the SEQ experiences themselves into instances of sexual harassment. This is a knowing misrepresentation of the SEQ results.

Here’s the NAS definition of sexual harassment (p. 28):

Sexual harassment (a form of discrimination) is composed of three categories of behavior:

1. gender harassment (verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey hostility, objectification, exclusion, or second-class status about members of one gender),

2. unwanted sexual attention (verbal or physical unwelcome sexual advances, which can include assault), and

3. sexual coercion (when favorable professional or educational treatment is conditioned on sexual activity).”

The three NAS criteria are actually individual SEQ behaviors that might or might not be harassment. Only the respondent could know. Context was important. Only the person experiencing the behaviors knew the context, and could judge whether they felt harassed, or not.

Originally, the SEQ experiences rose to harassment only if the respondent answered the criterion question as having felt harassed.

But the NAS authors have dispensed with the respondent’s perception. They now decide. They judge harassment from minimal evidence — a SEQ check-list — and without knowing any context. Any recorded SEQ behavior now counts as sexual harassment.

So, for example, they say that 20% of women in science were sexually harassed, not that 20% had SEQ experiences that may or may not have been offensive.

The NAS authors have falsified the meaning of the SEQ experiences. The result is to hugely inflate the fraction of women who can be said to have been sexually harassed.

Finally: who offends violently? The literature pretty well establishes that people highly impulsive and low in H-H and A are of criminal tendency. So, high LSH and high Impulsivity combine to predict the fraction of the population that will offend through violent sexual abuse and rape.

The Impulsivity consistent with criminality is 1.58 standard deviations above the mean (the arrow in Figure 3, right). That turns out to represent 6% of the male or female population with high Impulsivity alone. But high Impulsivity alone does not predict criminality.

To predict criminality, we need low H-H and low A as well as high Impulsivity.

Again assuming trait independence, for males the Gaussian fraction is 0.37×0.17×0.06 = 0.004 and for females is 0.41×0.04×0.06 = 0.001. So, about 0.4% of males and 0.1% of females in a general population are predicted have personalities that will dispose them to violent crime, including to violent sexual assault.

That means 99.6% of males and 99.9% of females are not disposed to violent sexual crimes. Once again “toxic masculinity” is objectively disproved. Now, however, we can also objectively eliminate toxic femininity from the objectively determined list of characteristic human attributes.

Rape culture, already out the window, is now gone from the universe; except as a residual trope in what I’ve come to call ‘harpy culture.’

The prediction that 0.4% of males represents the fraction of violent offenders was independently confirmed by a 2015 study. I didn’t know about that paper before working through to the prediction, but happened across it while generally searching the violent crime literature.

In Quebec, Bouchard and Lussier were able to estimate the “hidden” population of violent sexual offenders, given a known number of convictions and re-convictions over a 42- month time window. [20]

They estimated 8,322 total violent male sexual offenders from 387 convictions and 9 re-convictions in a population of 2.13 million males aged 18-64. This yields a 0.4% violent sexual offender fraction among the male population. Confirmation of the prediction independently made from personality inventory could not have been more exact.

All these findings are well literature-validated in the full assessment.

Female STEMers are thriving: Direct surveys show that the overwhelming fraction of female STEM members (90-95%) are satisfied with their careers.

Females who want to be STEM workers face no obstacles in today’s US, and are even preferably hired. [21, 22] The disparity in percent of females in the math-intense jobs has been connected to their free choices for more human-centered careers. [22-26]

The more egalitarian a society, the greater the gender disparity in math-intense jobs. The reason for that is, when people are equal and free to follow their own interests, the biologically (evolutionarily) determined preferences are most able to play a dominant role in career choices.[27, 28]

There just is no validity at all to any of the charges made in the NAS Report; not one of them.

Females are doing fine in STEM careers. There is no crisis of academic sexual abuse.

The set of recommendations offered in the NAS Report is the fondest dream of the Academic Left: ‘Universities should impose equity hiring, and cultivate a politically submissive STEM nomenklatura overseen by social-justice commissars: a new Lysenkoism, in other words. [29]

I can’t imagine a better program to destroy science.

The people who wrote The NAS Report are professional academics specializing in sexual harassment. They not only mangled the literature, they applied it to a malign end.

They could not have exhibited greater incompetence.

A dire warning: Readers here may or may not be aware of the “Walkaway Movement.” Whether or not, you should know it generated a number of remarkable youtube videos.

A woman who moved away from Feminist ideology and found her way to free thought posted a 15:12 video.

She talks about her disenchantment with Feminism and its misandry, and her realization that hiring for equity is bigotry. She speaks from direct experience of the Humanities academy.

At 4:50 she gets to the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of Feminist and cultural studies theory, the aggressively anti-rational indoctrination agenda of the academic Humanities in general, and their consciously pejorative distortion of history.

At 15:12 she ends with, “Good luck sciences. They’re comin’ for ya. Pretty soon you’re not going to do studies on biological sex, because there is no such thing.”

I offer this: the NAS Report is the opening barrage of the academic Humanities in their conscious, deliberate, and malignant war to destroy science. They are an existential threat.

The Humanities have become the necrotizing fasciitis of academic integrity. The only cure for NF is early amputation.



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