We're Different, Dammit

Jon Paul Nollmann
Updated 1998/05/22

Women and men are different. Whether that difference is congenital or developmental, or a combination thereof, women and men are, in physique, temperament, and ability, inarguably different.

These differences, in addition to taking the form of trivial differences, take the form of real, important differences of ability or fitness for some particular purpose. In fact, many of these differences, while trivial in one context, embody important differences in other contexts. While the size of someone's breasts are irrelevant for a data entry position, it becomes very important if you need someone to model a C-cup.

There are and always will be contexts in which "thin and beautiful" or "big and burly" are valid criteria for discrimination. In fact, there will always be contexts in which "man" or "woman" are, themselves, valid criteria for discrimination.

The result is that for certain purposes, all other criteria being equal, a man is a better candidate, while for others, a woman is a better candidate.

Over thousands of years, this little piece of wisdom has embodied itself in the form of a number of stereotypes, which (contrary to politically correct thinking) were never meant to be unerring statements about every individual of a group, but merely convenient rules of thumb, identifying trends which are unerringly embodied by the group itself.

Any sane person, recognizing that time is finite, will use any convenient means at their disposal to cull an unmanageably large group of candidates into a group whose members can be addressed individually. Stereotypes are an entirely reasonable and appropriate means to this end. If an otherwise qualified individual is culled by the use of such stereotypes, the only reasonable response is: "Oh well." Such errors are the natural result of presenting yourself as a candidate for a position which has a lot of competition.

If you find yourself being commonly culled in such a way, then you should take it as prima facie evidence that you are a sheep, constantly following the herd to positions which naturally attract herds. Positions, in other words, that attract people who don't want to stand out from the crowd. That is to say, people for whom stereotypes are perfectly applicable. You must then either resign yourself to a fate of such "unjust" culling or break out of the rut and carve a new niche for yourself.

Demanding that an unmanageably large number of candidates be each reviewed on individual merits is simply unreasonable.

I intentionally stuck to generic terms so that this rant is equally applicable to hiring, dating, firing, raping, or any other verb you may choose which involves selection from a group of candidates.

Jon Paul Nollmann sinster@ballistictech.net