“Where Equal Is Worse?”

Beware statistics?

Though it makes use of hard data on men’s and women’s education, health, economic participation, and political empowerment in 133 countries, it is far from objective, as it is built on dubious assumptions about human flourishing. Any instance of women outperforming men is deemed good, regardless of how everyone in the country is actually doing. Setting aside absolute measures of wealth, education levels, longevity, and so forth, the WEF measures only the size of the gap between men and women within individual countries. All other questions about national well-being are irrelevant.

Under this inadequate framework, the Nordic countries top the charts in gender equality: nothing objectionable or surprising there. The problems arise a bit farther down the list. For instance, the Philippines is among the 22 countries that surpass the United States in the rankings: it comes in at fifth place, also far ahead of Canada (20) and France (at a pitiful 45), to name just a few places where women actually choose to live when they’re able to immigrate. The Philippines scores highly because women there are catching up to men on economic measures, outperforming men in education, and outliving them by several years.

But the story behind the country’s rising numbers is not a good one. Poor job prospects there have long forced the government to encourage Filipino men to look for work abroad. In the 1990s they also tapped women to join the outmigration, and today women are the majority of the country’s migrant workers. “Even in the low paying Persian Gulf,” explains New America Foundation fellow Jason de Parle, who is finishing a book on how globalization is affecting Filipinos, “a Filipina maid often makes $600 or more a month…considerably more than a starting school teacher at home.”

In other words, according to the WEF and a credulous media, a poor country where women, unable to make ends meet, are forced to leave their children and families for far-away jobs where abuse is said to be commonplace is worthy of our emulation (the top-ranked countries are “potential role models,” says the report) because, after all, they are closing the WEF-defined gender gap. Never mind that women are wealthier, healthier, and better-educated in many countries ranked far below the Philippines: what matters is only the gap.

Worse still, gender gap fundamentalism creates a zero-sum struggle between the sexes where women’s advantage is always good while men’s is always bad.

via Family Studies.

It’s very important to be honest with statistics – and that includes pointing out any distortions created by your data.