Alert the Zookeeper
Last Monday, the New York Times reported on the cyber-animal kingdom of the Guerrilla Girls, a group of feminist arts activists who will use their new website to “extend the Guerrilla Girls’ feminist mission from the art world into the workplace via the Internet.” The Girls’ on-line manifesta reads thus: “Dubbing ourselves the conscience of culture, we declare ourselves feminist counterparts to the mostly male tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Batman, and the Lone Ranger. We wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than our personalities.” Of course, the Lone Ranger had too much dignity to do what the Guerrilla Girls do — namely, publicly pester people at events such as the Tony awards and the Sundance Film Festival for failing to achieve a proper quota of female artists. Founded in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls revel in their anonymity, which, it should be noted, makes them less accountable for what they are saying. And what they are saying is standard feminist misinformation. Their posters make deliberately misleading claims such as “Women earn only 2/3 of what men do. Women artists earn only 1/3 of what men do.” Here?s a message for our on-line simian sisters at the Guerrilla Girls: get your facts straight.

Tough Gals on the Bench
Writing in the periodical Gender Issues in the Fall of 2000, researcher Phyllis Coontz investigated whether female judges rule differently than their male counterparts on the bench. Turns out they do — and in a surprising fashion. Among the Pennsylvania state trial court judges Coontz surveyed, women on the bench turned out to be tougher, even when the defendant was a woman. In one hypothetical case involving a woman accused of killing her boyfriend, Coontz found that the fictional defendant?s claim of having acted in self-defense garnered little sympathy from women judges: 27 percent of them found her guilty, compared to 13 percent of the male judges.

Who Needs Physics?
If “difference” feminism has yet to triumph in the courts, there are some activists eager to see it rule in the sciences and engineering. Last week, the National Council for Research on Women issued a report, “Balancing the Equation: Where are Women and Girls in Science, Engineering and Technology?” that appears less intent on gender-integrating these fields than on feminizing them. As the Chronicle of Higher Education noted, one of the report’s key recommendations is for universities to do away with so-called “gatekeeping” courses in “computing, physics, and engineering that are intended to weed out students” and “replace them with courses that invite students into those disciplines,” all in an effort to make female students feel more welcome. “Part of what keeps women away from computer science is an image of all these greedy guys creating stuff,” says feminist science professor Anita Borg. Call me crazy, but I don’t want to drive across a bridge that has been engineered by someone “invited” into structural engineering. “Greedy guys” or no, engineers and scientists are supposed to be people who?ve survived a rigorous weeding-out process, not pawns in an ideological crusade.

The “Disheartened” Dames of Wall Street
And lest one think engineering is the only field in which women’s feelings haven’t been properly tended to, the New York Times summons readers’ sympathy for the women of Wall Street, who are, evidently, feeling “disheartened.” Citing a recently-released report by the Catalyst organization, the Times claims that “many women are dissatisfied with the extent of progress that has been made to help women advance in the securities industry.” In fact, the Catalyst report found that three quarters of the women surveyed were satisified with their positions. But women and men aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the issue of opportunity. Catalyst notes that “65 percent of women report that women have to work harder than men to get the same rewards.” Only 13 percent of men in the field agree. Do women face a lack of opportunity on Wall Street, as the Times suggests? No — they are merely experiencing a strong dose of reality, a reality that men in the industry have known for some time. As Cristina Morgan, a senior investment banker at J.P. Morgan, told the Times, the long hours and constant travel that these jobs require make them a challenge for anyone, regardless of sex. As a result, many people end up leaving the business. This self-selection process isn’t cause for female disheartenment. It’s simply a fact of life in the securities industry. Of course, in an era where perceptions are everything, who needs facts when you can rely on women’s feelings?