Why I vote for women

Perhaps in my previous post I should have explained more precisely why I think many things would be better if women were in control. I tried to summarize many statistics, papers, and books that I read through the years, but some may have found my language too sweeping. Let me try to be a bit more precise now.

First, polling conducted during the past four decades has shown that typically, men favor the United States’ going to war to resolve disputes much more than women do.

Second, women are more concerned about climate change than men, and they are more willing to make major lifestyle changes to do something about it.

Finally, it’s also a fact that women live longer, see e.g. this. The advantage is quite noticeable: about 5 years. I won’t give a statistic for what the consequences of this are, instead I’ll conduct the following mental experiment. Suppose population X has expected lifespan 1000 years, while population Y has expected lifespan 100 years. I think population X would be more interested in renewable energies, sustainable practices, et cetera.


3 thoughts on “Why I vote for women

  1. I think I was a bit aggressive in my previous response, and I apologize for that. This is because treatment of men and women in our field is something I feel strongly about.

    I think my current feelings on your particular voting strategy are as follows. Suppose you have to choose between voting for someone from group A and someone from group B. If you can rigorously conclude that group A is superior to group B in this context, with an advantage greater than the uncertainty of the experiment plus some small adjustment for fairness, then it is reasonable to vote for someone from group A.

    I applaud your search for statistics to back your point. I think in the first post, you made “common sense” claims without any backing, which I think is a very dangerous precedent to set. One of my friends made the claim that “women are significantly more likely to be Democrats”, which is a feature I think we can unambiguously agree it is reasonable to vote based off of. But he found that the link was weaker than he expected. I believe he found that gender and party in either the senate or house had 0.06 bits of mutual information — one may or may not interpret this as significant, but the point is it’s less than he expected.

    Given your use of real studies rather than “common sense,” most of my quarrel is gone, and I don’t want to harp on you too much since I think your heart is in the right place. That said, I still don’t feel the statistics allow you to give rigorous conclusions in context — in this case, politicians. Your statistics are about women in general, or perhaps American women, or even American women voters. Suppose in order to become a well-known politician, a woman has to be significantly more aggressive than the average woman, leading to a case where all women politicians are hotheads who are always ready to fire the missiles. This is an exaggeration, but some of the most visible women in politics include Sarah Palin and Marine La Pen, so I don’t think it can be immediately dismissed as a hypothesis. To belabor this point, and give a highly flawed example of generalizing statistics — consider looking at incarceration rates in the United States, and concluding that blacks are more likely to commit criminal acts than whites. Then in the 2008 presidential election, one could use the justification of voting for McCain over Obama by saying Obama is more likely to commit criminal acts. But I believe that when you adjust for socioeconomic status required to reach this point in the election, one should rule out a significant difference one way or another.

    Finally, one place where you might disagree with me is that I would like there to be a (rigorous) statistical advantage for one group over the other, to a degree greater than some “fairness” threshold. Suppose someone told me that the candidate from group A was 50.1% likely to be the more favorable candidate to me, and the candidate from group B was 49.9% likely to be the more favorable candidate to me. I think at this point, I would abstain (or flip a coin, if forced to vote), especially at the level of local government. If it was literally “one of these candidates will press a button that starts nuclear war, and the other will not,” then I would likely eschew this fairness threshold, but I think the case where I would be the uninformed swing voter for a situation of this gravity is pretty slim.

    (As one last point, I don’t think that this statistic on 5 years longer lifespan in expectation is enough to conclude that women are significantly less myopic, as there are too many other factors in the mix which may override a lifespan difference which is this short. The stretching into 900 years difference would indeed be likely to make these lower order terms irrelevant.)

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    Regarding your fourth paragraph: you can blame sampling bias for pretty much anything! Currently, I don’t know of evidence indicating that my points aren’t relevant for the women I have the option to vote for. Should any such evidence be produced, it would be a very interesting work, and I should definitely re-evaluate my strategy accordingly. Also, I don’t find your McCain vs. Obama example quite on target. The issues I am talking about, such as environment, are directly relevant to what the job is supposed to be — this isn’t true for your example.

  3. Bob: I want to see a female president!

    Alice: So, I assume you are going to the Sarah Palin for Prez rally later today?

    Bob: Uh, hmmm, no.

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