Filtration processes that explain incompetent women in senior roles


Continuing the discussion from Misleading on Marriage: how gay marriage opponents twist history to suit their agenda:

That works if we are selecting people at random from the population but we aren’t.
We are selecting people who are fit to be judges, and we are determining that using a metric that is prejudiced against #s.

Sorry, I didn’t make it clear, I was assuming a metric that was not prejudiced for the #'s and @'s

So larger sets chosen at random will expect to have a “best” that is better than the best of a smaller group.

But what happens if we have a biased metric applies to a repeated filtration ?

That might be taken as a first approximation to careers where there are successive levels of promotion, such as judges.

That quickly leads to the outcome of fewer women in senior roles, but who are on average better than the men. This accords with some observed groups.

However this assumes that women don’t know what is going on and have no alternatives in which situations the model sort of works.

But if women are informed and have alternatives, what does a rational woman do ?

They choose lines of work where they believe the bias is less and we observe that (for instance) there are a lot more women in senior sales where the evaluation is usually a lot more objective and where if you bias against women they will sell for someone else.

By losing smart women, this serves to reduce the average quality of women in systems where there is bias. This is part of a general principle that bias costs you money since most organisations success is driven by the quality of people in it.

But does that explain defective women like Butler Sloss in senior positions ?

To me it doesn’t.

Of course it could just be an effect of the randomness you get in any system where over time a number of people make decisions with imperfect information and many biases, not just sex. For instance why does she style herself “Butler-Sloss” ? Sadly the inbred bottom tier aristos that still pervade parts of the legal system like hyphenated names. Also she is he beneficiary of diffuse nepotism because of her family connections. She also was quite pretty when young, which is important to factor in. Some people will think a pretty woman to be less intelligent, some men would like to have a pretty woman to work with, so what we have here is random bias, there are a lot of factors like that.

So what happens if an organisation tries to achieve “diversity” after literally centuries of bias.

Given a smaller pool of women who are on average better than the men, we reverse the polarity.

Ironically, the more biased we have been in the past, the better the women we will be able to promote, since they will have been filtered harder.

However bias in the UK legal profession has been sloppy and occasionally half hearted, so the amount that women are better than men is not as much as the decision makers might like.

Let us posit a “good enough” boundary for promotion…
The effect of bias will have been to increase the % of women above that boundary and decrease the % of men.

If (as is the case with judges and many other types of outfit) we take the best woman and promote her, the remainder are a little bit less good on average. However since the pool is smaller, the rate of decrease is higher since taking 1 out of 10 women has a bigger effect than taking 1 out of 50 men.

So we more quickly hit the the boundary of “good enough” and have to make a decision.

Given that “good enough” is an objective metric and we actively want women, what do we do when we have a woman who is below this line and must choose her for promotion or a man who is above it ?

Be clear this is not a general case, you may have many women good enough, but when dealing with senior roles, the number of possible people is necessarily small and in the case of senior judiciary smaller than most.

Does our desire for competence outweigh our desire for diversity ?


There’s a reason why people think pretty women are less intelligent that also has to do with selection. If we think of actors, probably the ability to get hired as a top actor is a combination of attractiveness and talent. So those who are actually successful look like this:

There’s a very clear negative correlation there. But it simply comes from the fact that the two things are not correlated so if you add them up you are basically looking at the edge of a circle.

This is an example of how my theory of prejudiced people are bad at hiring people they are prejudiced against might work. Since attractiveness has nothing to do with being a judge (unlike being an actor) we shouldn’t see any correlation between attractiveness and talent in judges. But if female judges were chosen by sexist males who have a bias towards hiring attractive women then there will be a negative correlation between those things in judges even though they are unrelated. Of course if society has generally accepted that attractive women are not as smart then maybe the sexist hiring committee would choose not to hire attractive women because of their believe that they are unqualified, in which card we would see a positive correlation between attractiveness and talent, and we can’t really know how these factors might have played against each other.

But regardless of whether it is attractiveness or some other quality, ability to overcome and interest in overcoming discrimination is presumably not the same as being a good judge (they might not be complete unrelated, but you could certainly have a lot more of one than of the other). In a system with discrimination, ability to move up the ranks is going to be a combination of ability to take on discrimination and whatever traits would qualify you for the job in absence of discrimination. You end up hiring people for their ability to fight against discrimination rather than for their ability to do the job.

But that’s just another cost of discrimination. Ultimately, we can’t choose between diversity and competence. A proper competence-based selection will result in diversity. If you lack diversity, it shows that you are not selecting for competency (for judges at least, I understand why there are more black NBA players).

Ultimately, I generally think our filtration processes tend to put incompetent people in senior roles (and I’m highly prejudiced against people with authority, so I tend to think of almost all of them as incompetent).

We are talking about an example where an incompetent (or, possibly competent but corrupt) woman was given a position that she shouldn’t have been given. But it wouldn’t take long to find examples of incompetent or corrupt men who were given similar positions. I’m not sure there is actually a correlation at all - it could be that we just promote a certain number of awful people.



I tell you what could be competent; an intertron hivemind, somehow untainted by the evil works of dreg-fostering scum.


This topic was automatically closed after 940 days. New replies are no longer allowed.