An appearance at a House of Commons inquiry

Yesterday I gave evidence to a House of Commons inquiry into ‘Women in the Workplace’, in a panel along with Catherine Hakim (sociologist), Heather McGregor (businesswoman and a committee member of the 30% club), and Steve Moxon (researcher and author).

The session started off in a curious manner, with the chairman, a Labour MP, asking me the following question:

You mentioned in your submission that men are more likely to become engineers and women are more likely to become nurses. Why do you think that is?

I wasn’t prepared for a question along these lines, partly because an email from a clerk to the committee stated that ‘witnesses’ would be given prior warning of ‘possible lines of questioning’, and this hadn’t been mooted. My personal belief is that gender-typical differences are mainly biological in origin – drawing on books by eminent psychology professors including Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain and The Male Brain, Simon Baron-Cohen’s The Essential Difference and Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate – so I outlined that position. With the benefit of hindsight, I suspect the question was intended to lead me to talk about biologically-based gender differences, because the viewpoint is hotly disputed, and thereby harm my credibility as a witness. You live and learn.

A belief in gender-typical differences isn’t universally held by supporters of C4MB, and one of our most prominent supporters fundamentally disagrees with it. I should have pointed that out, and also said that the source of gender-typical preferences is irrelevant to this campaign. In the meantime, in an effort to keep an open mind on the matter, I shall be reading material written by a number of researchers who dispute the existence of biologically-based gender-typical differences which are of importance in relation to the world of work. Let it never be said that C4MB isn’t open to alternative viewpoints.

I should perhaps have replied to the question by saying that there are a number of theories concerning the source of gender-typical preferences, but in a sense they’re irrelevant, because governments simply shouldn’t be in the business of seeking to change individual preferences.


About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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