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MATT BURGESS: Welcome back to the Free Mind podcast, where we explore topics in western history, politics, philosophy, literature, and current events with a laser focus on seeking the truth and an adventurous disregard for ideological and academic fashions. I'm Matt Burgess, an assistant professor of Environmental Studies and faculty fellow of the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization at the University of Colorado Boulder. My guest today is Alice Evans. Dr. Evans is a senior lecturer in the social Science of development at King's College London, the author of The Great Gender Divergence, forthcoming from Princeton University Press and the host of the ROCKING OUR PRIORS podcast.

We discuss her research on gender inequalities over the past millennium globally, and their relevance to today's movements and debates about feminism in the US and elsewhere. Alice Evans, welcome to the Free Mind podcast.

ALICE EVANS: Thank you for having me.

MATT BURGESS: Okay, so one of the things that I emphasize in this podcast and in my work is reducing polarization and getting to understand one another. And so I'd like to start, especially if we're going to talk about some kind of contentious topic, with a little bit about you. So tell me about yourself and in particular, what motivated your focus on gender and gender equality in your research?

ALICE EVANS: I think one of the biggest facts of humanity that we have not yet answered, is that our world is marked by what I call The Great Gender Divergence. So if you look at objective data on employment, the governance, laws and violence, we see that all societies are patriarchal, but on a spectrum, and some are much more patriarchal than others. So for example, in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, it is men who go out of their homes to run family businesses, organize politically and make the law of the lands. Whereas in China and Russia you have very high rates of female employment, but women are locked out of governance. Latin America meanwhile has seen radical transformation, feminists, rallies, activism, gender parity, and legislators, rising female employment converging with Europe. Scandinavia is now being the most gender equal place in the world.

But for most of human history, Europe was incredibly patriarchal, far more so than say matrilineal sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia or the Andean civilizations. And I want to know why. So there is this big, big divergence across the world. I want to know what caused that, and I want to know why all societies have become more gender equal, but why some are more gender equal than others. So that's the big conundrum that no one has ever solved. And what I'm doing now is I'm studying the history of every single country in the world, drawing your archeology, drawing your neuroscience, anthropology, history, economics, political science, et cetera, to understand this big conundrum.

MATT BURGESS: Wow. One of the reasons that I really wanted to have you on is that you have this really big and really evidence-based untethered view. And so I love that I asked you to talk about yourself and you talked about what you're interested in. That's great.

ALICE EVANS: I have no interest apart from data. What is there apart from data?

MATT BURGESS: No, I love it. It's great. It's fantastic. Okay, so I have a remedial question for those of us, which I suspect is most of our listeners who are not scholars of gender. You mentioned patriarchy and you mentioned gender equality. What are those things? In other words, what would be the defining characteristics of a patriarchal society and what would be the defining characteristics of a gender equal society were one to exist?

ALICE EVANS: Okay. I think there are many different dimensions of gender inequality. So for example, we could look at the rates of male violence in a society. We could look at the share of a parliament that is dominated by men, the share of a cabinet that is dominated by men. We could also look at folklore, the extent to which men are represented as dominant aggressors, the extent to which that is naturalized in our society. And women are seen as passive subordinates. So there are many different dimensions of gender inequality. But a really common thing among humans as distinct from all other species is that we have institutionalized patriarchy, in that there are laws and cultural codes that enforce men's dominance and authority. And so we see that in pretty much all human societies, that there is this collective institutional idea of the idea that men are naturally deserving of status and deferens.

These are cultural codes, and that might be enforced by law. So for example, in the Code of Hammurabi, one of the world's first ever legal codes said that a woman who has said something to a man which she should not have said, must have her teeth smashed with burnt bricks. And throughout European history, our judiciary, our medicine, our healthcare, our parliaments, our locals, our religions, these were all dominated by men who propagated men's interests and men's ideology over women. So even though women were economically important to European households, for example, it was the rule of men

MATT BURGESS: And what about equality, would a gender equal society just be one that doesn't have any of the things you just listed, or is there anything more to it than that?

ALICE EVANS: Okay, that's a great point. What would a gender equal society look like? I think for starters we would expect gender parity in political representation. And some governments have that, like Canada for example, gender parity in cabinet. But none of the provinces I think are currently led by women for example, they're all male dominated. We might think about gender parity in parliaments, in political representation, but also in terms of people's gender stereotypes. So for example, if you look at world values survey data, which is nationally representative following your public attitudes. If you ask people, are men naturally more suited to be business leaders? Are men naturally more suited to be political leaders? Et cetera.

People usually in most societies have a preference for male leaders. Though we see it though Europeans, North Americans, Australians, and increasingly Latin Americans are more gender equal. We can think about laws, representation, and economic empowerment. So for example, if we look, so in terms of the economy, in terms of our labor markets, so at the moment female labor force participation in the USA has risen, but it's nowhere near that of men and women still predominate in low status roles. So if we go to the executive suites, those are heavily male dominated. If you look at higher pay sectors, there is a larger share of men in there, and the women are dominating as part-time workers, cleaners, low drudgery work. And then you can think about cultural representation.

So there's a whole bunch of things where we see the, yes, so in terms of ideologies, beliefs, cultural representations, economic autonomy, laws, governance, et cetera. So there's a raft of things, and each one of those components might be slightly different in each society. So for example, Papua New Guinea, women work at very high rates, they're economically active. But 65%, I think of Papua New Guinea women have been raped. So there are very high rates of violence and male sexual coercion. And Papua New Guinea does not have a single female MP. So it's slightly different, the configuration. To give another example, in Southern Nigeria on the Igbo and Yoruba, women did have some institutional authority. They had their own separate networks, their own social networks, their own systems of jurisdiction. But among the Igbo and Yoruba, we also see about 30 to 40% of those women have had genital circumcision to reduce female pleasure, which is part of an institution of limiting females, the goal is to limit female pleasure.

So that's another example of an institution which is slightly different. So these cultural configurations can vary. So in the Middle East and North Africa, you might have virginity testing upon marriage so that after the couple have sex they show the sheet and you celebrate the fact that it's red, that she was a virgin, because chastity is celebrated. In China, ever since the Song Dynasty, it was foot binding, and that was the idealizing the idea of keeping women confined to the inner quarter. So all these ideas, whether it's virginity testing, ideas of virginity, ideas of chastity, female genital circumcision, foot binding, those are all slight cultural innovations with this underlying theme of female seclusion, because a men's honor was contingent upon female seclusion and female chastity. So it's slightly different in each society.

MATT BURGESS: So if I was going to try to distill that, you're actually very good at packing a lot of information into not a lot of time, which shows that you're a podcaster. So if I had to distill that, would it be fair and accurate to say that the two key elements of gender equality are freedom and parody and certain outcomes?

ALICE EVANS: Wait, I think it's important to, because freedom to do what?

MATT BURGESS: To self actualize, to determine one one's life.

ALICE EVANS: But the thing is our desires are shaped by, let me give you an example. So this year I spent four months traveling doing quality research, two months in India, a month in Turkey, another month in Morocco, and also in Italy. I met a wonderful woman in Dharavi, which is a large slum in Mumbai in India, and she is a practicing Muslim, and she stays in their flat all day. She barely ventures out. And when she does, she wears the all black abaya covering herself. Now, she is not forced to do that, she's not physically coerced to do that, that is what she prefers to do. So in a sense she is free because of two things. One, she has internalized this idea that the good woman could stay at home and be chased and not to be seen by other men. And moreover the more that she stays home, the more that she retreats to that private sphere, the more scared and nervous she is to venture out. And so she sees the outside world as this more dangerous threatening place.

So one is her internalized idea, her belief that she's more likely to get to the afterlife if she acts in a good moral way. And two, because she stays at home, she's fearful of the outside world, so she's totally free. But if you have a society in which all the women are staying at home secluded while men are going out, making money, making the laws of the land, organizing politically, then they're able to assert their dominance and it's very difficult for an individual woman who's unhappy with that situation to rigor free. I don't personally think the focus on freedom is that useful because people's desires are shaped by what's appropriate in their society. I would discount that point. So I reject pure emphasis on freedom. What was your second point

MATT BURGESS: Parity in certain outcomes. So you mentioned political representation, you mentioned representation oppressions.

ALICE EVANS: Parity in certain outcomes. Sure. We could think about closing the gender pay gap. For example, Taiwan has really closed the gender pay gap. I think it's just above 10% now. Pretty small. Canada's doing well too. So closing that gender pay gap so that men and women are earning similar amounts, that would be getting us there. So parity in political representation, parity in pay gaps. Sure. Also think in terms of cultural ideas. Yes, let me pause on this. But there are so many things that people might question women on, and so much of this is cultural gender equality, whereby for example, in Germany, a woman who works might be seen as a bad mother because the proper woman will be a housewife taking care of her kids. And so there will be a social condemnation of a working mother, but not of a working father.

So I think we'd also need to address the asymmetrical condemnation just as there would be double standards for sexuality. So if I went out around every single night, that might be seen differently to if a man did the same thing. So there are a lot of double standards in terms of sexuality, economics, et cetera.

MATT BURGESS: One quick follow up question that's totally fascinating, and I love your example from India. I think it's a very stark example of how freedom can be somewhat a losery in a context of extreme institutional oppression.

ALICE EVANS: But I think freedom is always an urge, because people do what they want to do, but our desires are shaped by the communities within which we live. And so we all desire, and so our desires are shaped by growing up in our community, in our town, and watching TV, et cetera. We see what is socially respected in our community, and we want that social respect for inclusion, et cetera. And so our desires are limited by what others think are appropriate, what other people would support. So in that way, I just think it's misleading to focus on agency.

MATT BURGESS: Totally fascinating, because I was going to ask you a different question about agency later, which I think is going to be twice as interesting now. So a quick follow up anecdote about a good friend of mine. Okay, so a good friend of mine was raised by immigrant parents, but came of age in a social media, in what you might call a coastal liberal college community, where the norms were very different, you might say very feminist. And her experience growing up was one where both of her parents worked and they worked extremely hard, 10 to 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week. And so she didn't have the level of interaction with her parents growing up that she wanted. And so when she had kids, she decided that she wanted to stay at home with them until they were at least in school, possibly even older, in a sense because she didn't want them to have the experience that she felt that she had.

I would say that if she's had any feelings of social pressure related to that decision, it's been almost the opposite of what you said, that somehow she's a bad feminist for making that decision. I believe it's the case in the Netherlands that you can have part-time work if you want, and you can't be fired. And it's something like, correct me if I have these statistics wrong, but vastly more women have made the choice to do that than men.

ALICE EVANS: I think it's like 75% of Dutch women work part-time. We can correct that in the edits if I'm wrong, so that I look cool.

MATT BURGESS: And so I guess my question is, what would you say to my friend? Would you say that she has internalized a patriarchal worldview or is there example not one of a patriarchal worldview, the one that's enough of an outlier in the broader patriarchal media, that it's not worth spending too much time on the scale of society?

ALICE EVANS: So two things. First, I Googled and must correct myself. 60% of women in the Dutch labor market are part-time. I apologize. Second, I think it's misleading to focus on individual choices. What we're talking about is broader societies. I'm not interested in what one or the other person is doing, whatever, that's irrelevant. The point is a society in which if you have a society like the USA where the vast majority of women are in work and working full-time, then they in general are exercising more economic autonomy, more able to network with other dominant powerful figures, more able to organize in their interests, less collectively dependent on men's authority, more likely to be seen as authority figures, more likely to know someone who can help them out. So women institutionally have a more collective economic might and are seen in that way.

I think it's, yes, you're totally right that some people have said, feminism makes me feel uncomfortable, or like I'm doing something wrong for being a loving mother staying at home with my children. That's one of the allegations. That's misleading and irrelevant. If feminists are doing it, they shouldn't do that. The point is, it's a broader system and we're comparing between countries looking at a place like Iraq where female employment is like 8% versus the USA where it's much, much higher. And so the situation of women in Iraq isn't about whether one woman is a housewife or not. It's about this whole idea in which men's honor is contingent on female chastity and seclusion, and so women are kept at home as a way of guarding men's honor.

And so that creates a very, very different situation from a woman in the USA who's got plenty of money and wants to spend time loving and caring for her kids. And she's in a society where women are not seen as incompetent, who shouldn't even be speaking, let alone conversing with men in public. If that woman wanted to get a job, she would be able to, and if she went to the government, she would be taken seriously. She wouldn't need to take a man with her to fight her battles, for example. So her possibilities are very different

MATT BURGESS: You've touched on differences across countries, which is a theme in your forthcoming book that I want to touch on. One other quick follow up question related to my example. So this friend of mine, her husband, I wouldn't say he's rich, but he makes what you would call an upper middle class income. And their family has an upper middle class lifestyle. And the work that she does, which is very hard work, is often described in western gender discourse as unpaid work. To what extent is that really the case though? If she's able to live an upper middle class lifestyle, is there a sense in which she is being compensated?

ALICE EVANS: Her household wealth is high, so we can just say her household wealth is high I would say.

MATT BURGESS: To what extent, if any, does that implicit compensation matter when we're thinking about economic freedom, things like pay gaps, et cetera?

ALICE EVANS: I'm interested in the position of, in how women are seen and their authority generally in society. So whether one woman is a housewife and living a nice life in one house down the street isn't the issue. For example, in my street here, a woman can walk up and down and not be sexually harassed. It's normal for her to wear whatever she likes. She can go out, she'll be taken seriously. She can go to any shop, she can apply for a job, and everyone will take her seriously. They will respect and listen to her authority. That one woman in one house has a high household income and is caring for her kids, doesn't really matter, is irrelevant.

MATT BURGESS: Great. That helps. I might come back to it. I don't get to the meat of your research. So you studied gender inequality across space and time, and as you mentioned in your introduction across larger spatial and timescales simultaneously than pretty much any scholar that I've ever seen, which I just think is wonderful and fascinating. My impression is that the average lay person might imagine the following two broad patterns in gender equality that I think you hinted at in your introduction. So one is gender equality increasing across time everywhere, and the second is countries that are richer tending to be more gender equal than countries that are poor. So to what extent are those two patterns accurate, and are there any notable exceptions to those patterns?

ALICE EVANS: So one, the world has become more gender equal because of wealth, really it's saying.

MATT BURGESS: In that sense, is it one pattern and not two?

ALICE EVANS: Well, I think that's the implication of your two statements. Right?

MATT BURGESS: Fascinating. I don't think I deserve the credit for connecting it, but I think that that's a fair connection.

ALICE EVANS: Let's make two distinctions. Let's look at the pre-modern world. If you and I went teleporting 500 years ago, okay, let's suppose I've got a teleporting device. So 500 years ago, we would actually find a huge amount of heterogeneity. So in Native Americans societies like the Andean civilization, you have bilateral kinship where women descend from women and ultimately the moon goddess. So women's creative powers are revered. You have patra mama and patra tata. There is this whole idea of gender complementarity and women can exercise authority. And on the Andean civilization, premarital sex was tolerated. Over in the Philippines, it was women who were the long distance traitors. Now, I don't know if this is too sensitive for your listeners. In the Philippines, what they found are penis pins and those who are worn by men to enhance women's sexual pleasure, it's like a pin that goes through with a little knot on either side.

So those were worn by men because women were in such a position of authority and autonomy that they could insist on this. We have this huge cultural variation all over the world. And likewise as I was saying earlier, in Africa, the word for God, lesser, was gender-neutral. And many of their creators, their spirit mediums, their oracles, their deities were women. So women exercised important religious authority. Women also organized politically to protect their interests. So in Cameroon for example, they used to say, a man would dare not even steal an egg from her chicken coop, because he would anticipate women to band together in aggression against him. So we have this big, big cultural variation. Whereas in other super, super patriarchal, et cetera. And like I was talking about the Code of Hammurabi. So there's lots of variation. And so that's in one point, lots of variation.

Two, things can go backwards. Let me give you, or I can give you, well, no, no, I don't want to say the word backwards and you don't need to edit this, but listeners please edit this in your own minds. I don't want to say backwards because that implies a normative account, and I'm not normative, I'm a nihilist. Things can become more patriarchal. And I'm going to give you four examples. Before the ancient groups, the Mycenaeans, there were the Minoans. Now they had very similar advanced technology. These were seafaring people, they had complex irrigation, they had all complex metalworking, et cetera. But we think they might have been relatively gender equal. So for example, the public representations, the iconography only show women in the public sphere. They do not show them in domesticated maternal roles. Women are out driving their chariots.

They're seen in fresco's fraternizing with men. The Gortyn code, which was written sometime after the Minoans in Crete, gives women equal rights under the law. And then came the ancient Greeks, this is an institutionalized takeover via conquest, much more patriarchal. They have their roots going back to the step, a more patriarchal society. So with the exact same level of technology, oligarchy, social stratification, this culture becomes much more patriarchal. Exactly the same with the Etruscans and then the Romans. Etruscans, we think, were relatively gender equal, women moving freely, women exercising important roles. Priestesses blessing the king, et cetera. But then the Romans take over and it becomes much more patriarchal and women are shunted back into the private sphere.

So that's one example of shift. The other great example is Ancient Egypt. Women had equal rights under the law. Women were not veiled. Women were priestesses to the cults of goddesses. Women were supervisors in the old Kingdom. Then what happens? Well, fast-forward to the Umayyad Caliphate, the influencer and Persian theologians like Ghazali. And then today Egypt is one of the most patriarchal societies in the world where women are veiled, they're secluded. Their rates of female labor force participation are very low. Their rates of female representation are very low. So things can go in all kinds of directions. One point is cultural diversity. Number two point things can go in different directions. And the fourth example I was going to give you was the Sumerians we think were relatively gender equal. Women were officials, women were strides. Women were moving out and about, they're working, sometimes enslaved, but also sometimes of their own accord.

But then comes in the second millennium, the Amorite conquest. So the Amorites we think came from Arabia and then into Syria. And the Amorites brought the culture veiling. So veiling is all about the idea that women should be hidden, women should be secluded as part of male honor. So that system was then institutionalized in Babylon. So there we have the emergence of female seclusion. So that was my second point, that more gender equal societies can become more patriarchal, and that has primarily occurred through conquests. So when we had the Arab Islamic conquest across the Middle East and North Africa, there are many societies that were less patriarchal and became more so, Egypt for example. It shifted from bilateral kinship to patrilineal kinship. It adopted these ideas of female seclusion, et cetera.

Like Syria. Syria, there was Queen Zenobia who amassed 60,000 warriors against the Roman army. Then you had the Islamic takeover. So thanks for going in different directions.

MATT BURGESS: I was going to ask you, here you describe these examples. I imagine that some of our listeners might wonder if Iran and the Islamic revolution would be an example.

ALICE EVANS: Did Iran become more patriarchal? We can discuss this. Before the Iranian revolution in the early 20th century, there was an urban educated, cosmopolitan elite. We see the same in Tehran. We see the same in Kabul. We see the same in Istanbul. We see the same in Cairo. All these countries in the 1950s, you see this urban cosmopolitan, and I'm sure you've seen the pictures of women in miniskirts in Afghanistan, for example, in Kabul, right? Those 1970s pictures. And everyone was like, wow, Afghanistan was like a crazy liberal man. No, no, it wasn't like that. That was just a tiny liberal elite, that was a tiny liberal elite, a small fraction of society. If you look at actual rates of female labor force participation, unpaid work in the public sphere, which is the really important thing, which means mixing with men, that was always very low.

The vast majority of women in Iran were working in home base carpet ateliers. So they were working with kin, making beautiful carpets, beautiful, beautiful carpets, but that money was controlled and managed by their uncle or their father or their husband who would go out on their behalf to organize trade, et cetera. So the women were working, but in the home because that maximized household income while preserving male honor. So most women were just stuck at home. They were working on family farms, they were working on carpets. They weren't wearing mini skirts and funking it up. That was just a tiny minority.

MATT BURGESS: To the extent that the dynamics of elites differ from the dynamics of everyone else and how that shapes the narrative of society is really interesting. We might come back to that later. But I want to ask you-

ALICE EVANS: I'm not denying that of course the Islamic Revolution then institutionalized male dominance, of course.

MATT BURGESS: Sure, sure.

Alice Evans: Not denying. But I'm just trying to say that it's not the case that Turkey or Afghanistan, Turkey under Ataturk was not some feminist utopia. There was a little enclave in Istanbul, for example. The rest of the country was still incredibly patriarchal. And in Turkey, for example, it's not the case that the whole country has become more patriarchal because of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism or Islamic revivalism. Rather, those conservative sections have exerted greater dominance and control.

MATT BURGESS: Thanks. That's really interesting. Okay, I want to read a couple of sentences from Princeton University press's summary of your forthcoming book, The Great Gender Divergence, and then I want to ask you about it. So the summary states, quote, "The great gender divergence will explain the causes of Europe's precocious equality, how East Asia and Latin America caught up, why gender equity in the Middle East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa has lied behind and why Southeast Asia was always ahead. Evans offers a comparative history of how societies come to support gender equality and why this varies around the world, telling a story about geography, economic growth, strong states and militant activism." Obviously you're going to tell us why in the book, so don't spare our listeners the $20 or whatever it is.

ALICE EVANS: I don't care about... I'm happy to talk about any of this.

MATT BURGESS: I know. I'm joking. I want to ask you for the sparknote summary of a couple of those factors. We already talked about how affluence is maybe the single pattern. I talked about time and affluence-

ALICE EVANS: No, no, no. I'm not going to say affluence. I will give you, okay, time it on the clock. I'm going to look at the clock. We're going to give a 60 second summary of what's changed. Okay. So the great gender divergence really emerged in the 20th century as a result of the enormous economic and political divergence in outcomes. So with skill-based technological change that reduced domestic drudgery, women reduced their fertility, they increasingly seized jobs, they gained economic autonomy in the public sphere. And moreover, once in the public sphere, those women could mix and mingle, gain female friendships and forge a politics of solidarity. Then in democracies, those women could mobilize for better rights, better representation, and protection against male violence.

So countries that were more economically developed, job creating economic growth, it's not about wealth, it's about job creating economic growth and political democratization. Those places we see more female labor force participation and more political activism, right? Okay? But in the CHOP communist countries where activism is suffocated, you see women working at high rates, but locked out of politics and very little protection against male violence. But culture mediates the extent to which the rate at which women seize those economic and political opportunities. So as I was saying, in countries where men's honor is dependent on female chastity, men tend to prefer housewives and women stay at home to gain status.

And so even if there is rapid economic growth, for example, in India, even when more jobs emerge, women might forego those economic opportunities because they prefer to be housewives, they gain status by looking after their children, and that's how they demonstrate love and that's what men want, et cetera. So even relatively, and look at Saudi Arabia, for example, increasingly wealthy, but ideals of male honor limits female labor supply and response to those economic opportunities. That was over 60 seconds.

MATT BURGESS: But that was actually a really impressively short summary, and you I think largely answered what my next question was going to be, but I'm going to ask it anyway in case there's more color you want to add to it. So one of the things that you've written about that I find fascinating is the role of friendship among women as a catalyst for gender equality. You've touched on that a little bit, but is there anything else you want to add in explaining that?

ALICE EVANS: So female solidarity is not automatic. Women can be each other's worst enemy. And there's some fascinating work on how as part of sexual competition to preserve or secure the best mates, women might spread rumors and gossip about other women, especially if she's very pretty or sexually promiscuous. So let's spread rumors that she is up to no good so that other men don't want to touch her so that we get those men for themselves. So women can be nasty and backbiting to secure their own status and advantage. I'm not saying that there's this automatic sisterhood. So that is totally possible and that exists in every country. But also if we think about the cultural dimensions of patriarchy, the idea that certain things might be unquestioned, the idea that men's prerogative or preferences might be unchallenged, then there may be an important role in women sharing their experiences and realizing that some of their personal struggles are not just idiosyncratic thing that they need to personally manage, but it's actually part of an institutionalized system of oppression.

And they realize that through talking to each other, encouraging each other and emboldening each other. So for example, today some people might say, if a man bullies a woman and then says, you're just being too sensitive, they call that gaslighting, right? So that he is being rude, abusive, belittling, denigrating, and then he just tells her, but it's your fault you burnt the food. And in many societies, women internalize that. So for example, in Andhra Pradesh in India, 50% of women think a man is justified in beating his wife if she burns the food or neglects the kids in some way. So male violence is justified through women's internalization of it. In Iraq, for example, there are ethnographies which talk, and also in northern Nigeria, women think that they are obliged to have sex with their husbands, otherwise they will be punished by angels and damned to hell fire.

So all these are examples of internalized oppression, unquestioned inequalities. And how do we start to think that some of that is unfair? How do we start to push for change? Earlier I was giving the example of people who might condemn me if I was ultra slutty, right? How do we start to challenge men's sexual prerogative and double standards? Are women getting together and saying, hey, I don't think that's right, or hey, you are good to get this. Or celebrating each other's wins and saying, hey, you're doing really well. Women typically are more fearful, less confident, less likely to put themselves forward, and it may be their female friends who are championing them, supporting them, and picking your friends wisely. Some are going to be back biting, but others can be super nice, and that's a really important part of solidarity and feminist consciousness.

MATT BURGESS: So as you know, part of the Benson Center's mission is to bring more viewpoint diversity to college campuses, and I suspect many of our listeners are somewhat skeptical of parts of what one might call the modern feminist movement in the West. The qualifiers there are important. We're not talking about people who support the Iranian protests. I would imagine the vast, vast majority, if not all of our listeners, support that. Given your expertise and your thoughtful data-driven approach to these issues, I thought you might be a great person to ask some questions about gender inequality in the West that I suspect some of our listeners have, and then let you separate the weed from the chaff. Does that sound good?

ALICE EVANS: Yeah, yeah. Feel free, ask me. Absolutely. I'll add that I was recently at a protest with Iranians against the Islamic Republic over in Istanbul. It was great.

MATT BURGESS: That's awesome. Okay, so the first question is, how important do you think biological and evolutionary phenomena like sexual dimorphism, asymmetric physical investment in offspring, sexual selection, driving men to, for example, seek status more aggressively and women to be more focused on status in their mate choices, et cetera, are to explaining modern day differences in outcomes among women and men on average in career choices and other areas?

ALICE EVANS: Great question. I totally accept the role of biology. And let's not forget testosterone. It's five to 20 times higher in men. It may help explain men's greater competitiveness, risk taking, and aggression. Richard Wrangham has a nice book called The Goodness Paradox, and he thinks that maybe 50% of the variation in aggression is genetic. So yeah, why are most of the people in prison for violent crimes, men? That's biology. There's a really nice paper, and I'm going to be a terrible person who can't remember the papers. But they did an MRI scan of people's brains in California and also Spain. And they see that when women become mothers, their brains change such that they become more caring towards their infants.

And interestingly, men's brains also change upon fatherhood, and they found that the change was even greater in Spain, which they speculated was due to greater paternity leave. So their biology might be interacting with the institutionalized policy of paternity leave, because if men have more time to spend at home, then they're bonding with their kids and that part of the brain is being activated. I think that's an example of how biology matters. It changes over the life course. For example, pair bonded men have lower levels of testosterone. Young men are typically more aggressive. I'm a big fan of evolution.

MATT BURGESS: Okay. So the prison example is an interesting one because it's uncontroversial, right? The idea that men on average have higher rates of violence and that is going to lead to higher rates of commission of violent crime, and therefore higher rates of male imprisonment. As far as I know, nobody thought of calling for prison quotas. Can you think of any example of a disparity in outcomes that people do sometimes see as an injustice that you think is partly or wholly or mostly related to a biological phenomenon analogous to the prison one?

ALICE EVANS: Okay, great question. You're right. I was being too tame. I think 7% of the registered patents are under the name of a single woman. If it's a single person registering a patent, I think it's just 7% of the women. Now, why is that? That would look like an example of, and why are the vast majority of CEOs male? It varies by country. China has the world's largest share of female billionaires. But why is it that these very, very top positions are patent, comedians typically male, and I see that as an example of risk-taking. So patenting, comedians, CEOs, why are they all male? Could it be related to increased male competitiveness and risk taking? Well, the other example I meant to give in that MRI example, was saying that for example, Claudia Goldin, who is the queen, Claudia Goldin in her wonderful new book shows that in age 20, there's gender pay parity.

Men and women aren't about the same, but then when they get 30, whatever, women have babies and they step back from the labor market. And then that's when we see the big pay increase. It gets really big. Because what's happening is women are opting into flexible employment that they can combine with maternal loving care, and men are opting into long hour jobs, and it's those long hour jobs which are much more remunerative and pay more heavily. Women are doing that part-time flexible work, which doesn't have a great pay outcome, and men are doing those long hours. Well, that's the case for college educated people. So then the question becomes, well, why are women stepping back from the labor market? Is it because our institutions make it difficult to combine work and care? And I think to some extent that's certainly true. And we see that when women can work from home, then they can combine mothering and work.

So by changing the institutional configurations, by making workplaces more female friendly, then women can thrive. So there is certainly an important role for workplace culture being family friendly, and also the proportion of women in a workplace. So if there are lots of women in a workplace, then they feel much more comfortable to speak out and say, hey, we need to organize and make sure this meeting finishes at 5:00 PM because then we all need to take care of our kids. And that also makes it easier for men to be fathers. So workplace culture matters, institutions matter, government policies matter. But on top of that, we can ask the biological question, well, why is it that women are wanting to spend more time with their kids? Why do they want work to be more flexible and fit around that caregiving schedule?

I would think that some of that is biological. It is impossible to empirically test how much of it is biological. We can't test that. I don't think we can contest that.

MATT BURGESS: I actually agree with that. And you've anticipated two or three questions down, so I'm just going to move it up. I think a reason why you can't separate it, is because there's an interaction which you hinted at, right? So suppose it were the case, which I could believe that biological sex differences that affect preferences and personality traits, that affect career choices, differences that on average tend to be larger in rich, more gender equal countries I believe, would tend to produce all else equal disparities in certain careers. Right? Now, on the other hand, and again, all else equal, you might not necessarily think of that as unfair from a freedom self-actualization perspective. On the other hand, the other thing you said, which I've definitely seen evidence for, is that the demographics of a workplace affect how welcoming it is. And maybe, I've definitely seen evidence for that.

I haven't seen systematic empirical evidence for my next claim, but it's a hypothesis that anecdotally at least has that those disparities might disproportionately affect the welcomingness of women in male dominated workplaces than men in female dominated workplaces. So for two anecdotal examples, when I was in college, I worked two summers in a daycare where I was in one summer, the only man and the other summer, one of two of 10 or something employees. And there were a couple of institutional things that you might consider sexist. So for example, men were not allowed to change diapers because the worry was that parents would think that men who work at daycares are pedophiles, this is literally how it was explained to me by my boss.


MATT BURGESS: But to be fair, not being allowed to change diapers is not the worst thing in the world. That didn't negatively affect my day working there. And then the other kinds of things that you might imagine affecting your day, the fact that on average my coworkers had more common interests with each other than they did with me, didn't really bother me. If they were going out to do something outside of work and I didn't want to go, it was usually that it just didn't interest me and that I felt it was unwelcome. Whereas in contrast, I have a family member who started out as a lawyer for a big law firm in the 90s I think. And she described it as a very male dominated workplace. And she said sometimes her colleagues would want to go to a strip club, which wasn't just something she wasn't interested in, it made her extremely uncomfortable.

And maybe also related to things like disparities and risk taking, I could see that there would be, that disparity is making the workplace more unwelcoming and then therefore an interactive effect between these factors that drive disparities might be stronger in the context of workplaces where women are underrepresented. Does that make sense?

ALICE EVANS: Let me comment. From the 1960s, female employment started rising and women increasingly went into social and interpersonal work. Let's look within academia, women flocked into sociology, for example, and less so economics or computer science or technology, what we call STEM. In the 1960s sociology was incredibly sexist. So if you speak to leading professors today, they'll say, I was dismissed and they thought I was the secretary. So this was a very sexist workplace. Women's contributions were denigrated. A woman who was in sociology was assumed not to have status, not to have autonomy, not to have her own ideas, not to be an intellectual genius, whatever. But then what happened is women flooded that leaky paint pipeline and they supported each other, they encouraged each other, going back to friendships. And even though there was discrimination, even though there were a bunch of misogynist, sexist, biased men, women kept on pushing and they established themselves.

But now in sociology, you often see the American Sociological Association has female presidents and women are regarded as prominent important thinkers. And for example, there is a nice paper on this by Heather Sarsons, that if there is a co-authored paper in sociology and a woman's name is on that list of co-authors, then she's just as likely to get the credit and then get tenure as any man who is on the authorship list. In economics however, women have remained a minority. And like all other male majority workplaces, they face incredible hostility and sexism. So in economics, if a woman is a co-author on a joint paper, that paper counts for nothing towards her chances of getting tenure. That's Heather Sarsons paper. And I think that's directly because one sector is more male majority, and men have institutionalized their interest. Here is an interaction between biology and also culture and institutions.

So why is it that women opt into the interpersonal social spheres and then those sectors become heavily dominated like sociology? So it might be partly because women like that empathetic idea of dealing with people. I think also it could be partly that economics was incorrectly framed. They don't understand that it's also to do with people, for example. So there might be some slight biology. So we also know, for example, in childhood testing that girls and boys do equally well on math and reading, but men might do very badly in reading and then prefer more mathsy type subjects. So if men aren't so good at reading, they'll leave those subjects and go into the STEM stuff. So if you've got a bunch of guys who all they're really good at is STEM, they flock into STEM and then STEM as a result of that initial small variation, in biology STEM then becomes very heavily male dominated.

And then we know, we look at any male majority space, whether it is a classroom, whether it is US university, Ivy League seminar room, where men are in the numerical majority, they're more likely to interact more, they're more likely to speak for longer, they're less likely to want to collaborate with women. For example, they compare physics and biology and physics there are more men. In biology if a woman tops the class, they'll want to work with the women, they'll recognize that women are good, they'll partner with women at just as equal rates. In physics, men don't want to work with women. They don't see them as best, even if they might do just as good objectively on the test that's not recognized culturally in that physics class.

Then similarly, if you look at San Francisco's tech workplaces, I've done over 30 interviews with people in San Francisco's tech hubs, and again, there's is constant, and I'm not the only one who's done research, many have researched this about how women are questioned. They're not given the benefit of the doubts. Their code is doubly, doubly checked, just to be sure that she did it correctly. And they're not given so many opportunities. They're not given the benefit of the doubts. And some of that is exactly to what you said. It's about this system of fraternizing and socializing. It may not be entirely misogynist. It may be that men with common interests hanging out together, feel comfortable going for coffee together, feel comfortable playing basketball, going for golf, taking a cigarette break, and then bond.

So you hang out and we see the same thing in oil and gas. There's a nice paper on this in an East Asian bank, where they find a third of the gender pay gap is due to men's socializing together. So if you hang out all day with Jeff or Hang, then you think, hey, Jeff's a great guy, and then you've got some pro northy the problem that you need help with, you will go and ask Jeff about it. You trust Jeff. And then Jeff in the middle of the meeting, he says, hey, I think we should invest in that company. Well, you know Jeff's a great guy. Jeff's always got your back. Jeff makes great calls. Yeah, sure, go for it, Jeff. But then Wendy pipes up with some idea, you don't know Wendy, and then you are questioning Wendy. Well, why are you saying that? Why should we do that? So you're naturally skeptical of someone that you don't know, that you don't have that strong relationship with.

So what I'm saying there in a long-winded way is that you've brought this interaction between biology, numerical dominance, institutions, culture, who's seen and respected, and then also this comradery which can manifest in very unequal outcomes. So STEM has a very leaky pipeline, meaning that even when women are equally competent, even when they're equally competent and go into STEM with those equal qualifications, they're much more likely to leave. So they leave at very, very high rates. They exit those workplaces. And why is it? The entirety of that leaky pipeline can be explained by STEM having male majority workplaces. And as I was saying, where women are the numerical minority, not only do they face that hazing, not only do they face being neglected, denigrated, ignored, but they also, there's a nice survey by McKinsey, when woman is the only minority, she feels very uncomfortable to push for family friendly policies because you don't have lots of women asking for the same.

And so therefore it becomes very difficult to juggle work and family. Even though STEM subjects are not necessarily more difficult. So Claudia Goldin has the systematic review looking across occupations. STEM subjects or STEM work isn't necessarily like long hours, they're not necessarily greedy jobs. What makes them so hostile to women is that it's a male majority workplace.

MATT BURGESS: A couple of follow-up questions. One, correct me if I'm misremembering these statistics, but I want to say there was a review paper between five and 10 years ago published by a bunch of people, but the lead authors were Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams, and I thought that they found that the pipeline within STEM is actually leakier in sub-disciplines like biology and psychology that have more women than in math intensive disciplines. Am I remembering that right?

ALICE EVANS: I will lose status amongst all your listeners because I do not think I know that paper.

MATT BURGESS: Okay. I'm pretty sure Stephen Ceci is the lead author, I want to say it's 2014 or 2015 and it's a review paper. Sorry if I'm misremembering that. My next question is, it sounds like you're saying, actually, I don't want to put your words in your mouth, but I would say that I suspect that many of our listeners perceive the attitude towards workplace disparities as often being that problematic if men are overrepresented and not if women are overrepresented. Do you agree with that? And to what extent do you think that attitude explains the fact that women are now the vast majority of students in all levels of academia? And I believe this, also you can correct if I'm wrong, but I believe they recently also became the majority of new faculty hires. Certainly that's true in ecology, which is where I got my PhD, but I think it's also true of virologists by a smaller proportion

ALICE EVANS: Okay, I'll make two points. Number one, I'm a nihilist, so I wouldn't use the term problematic. For me there's no such thing as good or bad, right or wrong. I don't see things as problems, I just see it as data. That said, we can see that where something is very rare for men, then men may feel uncomfortable to do it. And that makes it difficult for all men. And so this is going back to what I said with the housewife example. If all women are housewives, it makes it difficult for any woman to be the first to stick her neck out because then people will be questioning her and asking questions and think she's up to no good. So wherever something is rare, it becomes very difficult for people to do it because you care about social approval. So for example, let's take male caregiving. In the USA and in much of Europe it was very rare for men to take parental leave to stay at home with their kids.

Then along came COVID, and suddenly in the UK for example, 40% of men spent time working from home. And those were primarily white collar, middle class men. Once men started to spend time at home, they had to do a lot of care work and they increased their share of care work. Women did more care work, but men increased their share of care work and they bonded with their kids. And many of them realize how much they enjoy being stay-at-home fathers. And now many, many men want to spend more time working from home, being at home with their kids. So beforehand, very few men did it and partly because they worried that they wouldn't be seen as serious in their jobs. They worried about social condemnation. So wherever something is rare, people worry about condemnation. They worry, people won't think I'm serious, people won't think I'm a proper guy. Like a guy who's a housewife, who is he? Right?

He's seen as a wuss, he's seen as under her thumb. He's not a proper guy. So it's all that social condemnation. Then you have COVID, then you have all your peers doing it, then you have massive improvements in infrastructure and technology. It becomes far more normal, and many men want to work from home with their kids. So you see a social shift in social preferences, and as more men do it becomes more normal, more socially acceptable, and then more men are able to do it. And so we see the same thing happening for many jobs and domains. For example, there is currently an expansion in health and social care roles, and there will continue to be an expansion in health and social care roles. And some men with limited education who now can no longer find jobs in manual work or manufacturing might be considering going into those health and social care jobs.

But if they're the minority, if other men are not doing nursing or care work or looking after elderly people, then they might be a little bit reticent. And men's concern for status, men's concern for being a proper guy might make them a little bit guarded about moving into that new sector, even if it's an economically growing sector. So this is how culture mediates labor supply for women and for men. Joana Duran-Franch has actually done work on this, and she shows that as manual work has been decimated, the China shock and automation, men have increasingly gone into those social roles.

MATT BURGESS: Short follow-up question and a long follow-up question?


MATT BURGESS: I want to say I've heard both scholars who would consider themselves feminists and scholars who consider themselves non-feminists assert that there has been less of a change in the acceptable social roles for men than there have been for women in the last say 50 years in the West. Would you agree with that?

ALICE EVANS: Yeah. I think we see a radical change in rising female employment, rising female political representation, but men are still tightly policed in terms of, for example, boys in school who act in effeminate ways, are heavily policed, they're mocked and they're bullied. There is strong social policing of effeminate boys in US high schools. They're bullied. They have a terrible time often.

MATT BURGESS: To what extent do you think that difference is, I would say that the two explanations that I've heard for that difference, that make the most sense to me, one is a cultural one that basically says that society has spent more time concerned with changing female acceptable social rules than male. And so that's why-

ALICE EVANS: No, that's incorrect.

MATT BURGESS: ... they've changed more. The second one is that, if you go back to the idea of evolution in sexual selection, women are the choosy sex, most anisogamous species as evolution would say. And so some of the restrictions in male social roles are enforced in this other theory by basically female mate choices and female mate preferences that may be very, very hard to change. I want to say I saw a New York Times article or op-ed from a few years ago that was headlined something like, men don't want to be nurses, their wives agree.

ALICE EVANS: What did Bill Clinton say about the economy? It's just economics. So from the 1970s, we saw that the male median wage bag began to stagnate. A male breadwinner could no longer provide for his family single-handedly and job opportunities were increasing, female fertility was reducing. So women seized those economic opportunities, they flocked into the labor market to make money. That's why women went into work. There wasn't some cultural conspiracy. Families wanted money and women joined forces. And as women joined forces in the labor market, then they amassed sufficient economic and cultural capital to get into politics as well. It's just economics. Why are fewer men nursing? Well, as I was saying, Joana Duran-French's work shows that male nursing has gone up partly because it's been hit by the fallen manual and manufacturing work.

It's all economics. It's economically advantageous for women to do more paid work. That said, there is one element where I think culture has a stronger role to play. So for example, before COVID, even though women were working at far higher rates, regardless of her time or her earnings, she still did the lion share of the housework and childcare. There was far slowest change in the private sphere. And my personal theory for that is that social change is amplified when it's publicly visible and can encourage and inspire and embolden others. But care usually takes place behind closed doors. So even if there are a bunch of guys on your street doing the ironing and washing and diaper changing, then they're not seen. So that doesn't encourage others. So men continue to think it's abnormal and it's not their role and they're not used to it. And women may not push for it because they don't consider it normal.

I think the private dimension of care work may slow and inhibit change. So that's one hypothesis about why there might be a difference. I would just say, no, for the large part, why have gender roles shifted more for women than men? It's just because luckily for us in the West we've benefited from job creating economic growth and activism.

MATT BURGESS: Okay, so we're almost out of time. One I want to ask you is, where this conversation has gone, is actually coming into an area that intersects with my research more than I expected. And that is one of the things that I've looked at in the context of climate change, but also social and political realities, is the idea that economic growth may be declining, definitely has been declining in the west for about the past 50 years, 60 years. And there are some schools of thought, which I must say I find compelling, and I've written on this a little bit, that pose it, that that slowdown will continue and there's probably nothing we can do to stop it because it's driven largely by things like shifting to services which have slower productivity growth because we don't need more stuff. And then also declining birth rates, which are intimately related with gains and gender equality, which we wouldn't want to undo just to have more GDP per capita growth.

ALICE EVANS: I can talk about fertility. Okay.

MATT BURGESS: The question I was going to ask you is you said that one of the big drivers of gender equality has been job creating economic growth. And so my question is, how worried should we be about gender equality?

ALICE EVANS: Can I talk about fertility briefly?

MATT BURGESS: Yes. Actually we have as long as you want.

ALICE EVANS: We've seen this, Matthias Doepke and colleagues have done this great new paper on fertility. And what they show is that in the initial stages with rising female employment, it was very difficult to be a mother. As women went into the workplace, they couldn't have so many kids, so they cut back on their fertility. But what we now see is a very different shift in that female employment is compatible with caregiving and can even increase it, because if men share child caregiving and if governments support mothers and if workplaces support mothers. So if the cost of motherhood is less large, then women happily mother. So it's not that feminism inevitably leads to a falling rate of fertility. It's that when it's less costly to be a mother, then women are more likely to make that choice.

When it's not such an economic hit. When fathers are supporting them, when governments are supporting them, when workplaces are supporting them, then fertility goes up. So that's a great newspaper. Now your big question is, should we be afraid of economic stagnation? So here's what I think we should be afraid of. Here are what I think are the three biggest threats to gender equality worldwide. Climate breakdown. Because, let's go beyond the USA. If there is climate breakdown, then poor families will be trapped in villages. So that's going to impede structural transformation. So then you'll have girls bearing many children, getting married early without education, lacking the resources to contest dominant men, being trapped in villages with social policing, which are isolated, which have got this homogenous group thinking where they're not getting the opportunity to challenge ideologies of patriarchal oppression. So climate breakdown is absolutely a major threat to gender equality worldwide.

MATT BURGESS: Climate breakdown, I feel silly asking you this as a climate scientist, but most of our listeners aren't. What's the definition of climate breakdown?

ALICE EVANS: I would talk about higher temperatures, flash floods, and God, I'm embarrassing myself in front of you, but all these erratic events, all these erratic environmental instability that makes it so much harder. So for example, I did four months of research in Cambodia. So the farmers face a big crisis of climate breakdown. They get heavily indebted and that really keeps women in the home or they get into bonded labor. You know the story. Or girls get into early marriage, big problem. Okay, who is authoritarian? 64% of people currently live in authoritarian systems. That makes it very difficult to organize politically, to contest patriarchy. Egypt has a new laws against sexual harassment, but as long as women are oppressed and unable to organize, then it's very difficult to push for concerted action.

Because Miss Malhun Hatun and others have shown that it's feminist activism is the major predictor of government protections against male violence. Whereas in Russia a couple of years ago, the parliament decriminalized battery as long as you don't break any bones. So authoritarianism, that's a big stop in terms of female protection from violence and female representation. Then the third one is automation. To the extent that automation, SAPs job creates economic growth, then we should anticipate stagnation in female employment. So here I'd give the example of India. So in India, female seclusion is idealized in villages and in towns, even in more progressive cosmopolitan cities like Delhi, men grow up with loving mothers looking after them, caring for them, hand feeding them laddu.

And so men want a wife who is there to love them and care for them, bring their clothes to them after their shower or cook and clean for them and be there for them to love them. So they prefer housewives. When they're looking at matrimonial ads, they want a housewife, a woman does better if she doesn't list her job. Now, in that situation where there's a strong preference for housewives, women stay at home with their patriarchal gardens, with their patriarchal protectors, they have fewer opportunities to mix and mingle and explore the world and navigate things on their own terms and gain all independence and gain that self-beliefs, gain that self-mastery, which was so missing in that woman I mentioned in Mumbai, to gain that confidence, to feel fearless, to feel that they can go to a different place, to talk to anyone, to navigate, to have the resources, the networks they need to negotiate.

If there aren't jobs, if there isn't labor demand, then families will think, well, she might as well stay at home looking after the kids, right? Only, so female employment only rises when the economic returns are sufficiently high to compensate for the preference to be a stay-at-home mother. But if those economic returns are low because of automation or economic stagnation or jobless growth as it's called in India, then most families opt for women to stay at home. So that's the situation with India. Okay, let me let you interrupt. There's so much more I want to talk about.

MATT BURGESS: It's actually great that we're not as restricted on time, because there's a couple of questions I want to ask you. The first one is, so I'm not surprised that you said that stagnation or jobless growth is a concern, because that's certainly, I suspected it was, is why I asked you the question. However, it was interesting to hear you mention automation. And the reason I find that interesting is because for example, I'm sure you know of the study by paper by David Otto and co-authors, that looked at, sorry if I'm mispronouncing his name, that found that when automation affects things like manufacturing, that are historically male sectors, what you actually don't tend to see as far as I remember, reversions of closing of gender gaps that had previously favored men.

What you see is almost a dystopian version of the opposite. What you see is marriage rates go down because women don't find the newly unemployed men marriageable and men are not displacing by and large women in HEALTH professions in these areas that are often have high unemployment rates, skyrocketing use of drugs and denser despair, skyrocketing single motherhood, which disproportionately affects the development of young boys. So where does that fit into your automation story?

ALICE EVANS: Absolutely. I think that's a fantastic paper by David Otto. I think it's great. I think it's a major problem. So if you have the China shock or if you have automation, then men become less marriageable. And also a really interesting paper that suggests that a large part of male labor supplies are also affected by whether they're already married. So men who are unmarried are even less likely to seize and pursue jobs because they don't have a responsibility, they don't have families to provide for. So there could be some interactions there. Yes, but I think it definitely could be a growing story in the USA, that if labor demand falls as a result and then you have more jobless men and perhaps even more single mothers among the working class and especially the black Americans.

MATT BURGESS: This leads me to, I am going to bring Richard Reeves back in. You wrote a really thoughtful Twitter thread about Richard Reeve's new book Of Boys and Men, which the title of the book is Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do about It. And some of the ways in which Reeves outlines that men are struggling in western countries include falling well behind girls in school, especially boys from disadvantaged backgrounds. He cites that there's now a larger disparity in college attendance favoring women than there was favoring men when Title IX was passed, which is the education equity law. Men have always been disproportionate victims of suicide, workplace deaths, disproportionate victims of the opioid crisis, de-industrialization, et cetera. And he talks about the HEAL professions, which stands for health, education, administration, and literacy.

Even though it's true that some nursing have a shrinking disparity, many of them have growing disparities favoring women and disparities that are often larger than the disparities favoring men in STEM professions. And so he talks about, I forget if he uses this metaphor or not, but he basically talks about how we should be able to walk and chew gum. That dealing with these facts and these issues head on doesn't need to be at odds with or distract us from continuing to deal with the disparities and disadvantages that affect women. Do you agree with that? Do you think these issues that he describes in this book receive enough attention? And do you think that these facts in any way complicate the notion of the west being a patriarchy?

ALICE EVANS: No. When I talk about institutionalized patriarchy, it's like a system whereby men are dominating institutions of power and privilege and having the higher pay and being revered culturally. So all the high paying, high-powered, high status ideologies are favoring men. But in addition to that, there are a lot of poor and disadvantaged men who are struggling, who are struggling growing up in neighborhoods with very few fathers, without that paternal authority, in situations of high crime, of violence, of drugs, et cetera. And boys without fathers tend to, they're under developing their prefrontal cortex, which is associated with long-termism, conscientiousness. Boys whose fathers are in prison, my friend Arpit Gupta at NYU, he was telling me about their new emotive research about boys who grew up with parents in prison. They're struggling with delinquency in school.

There's another great paper by Marianne Bertrand at Chicago, she and Jessica Pan, they track kids from pre-K over to grade eight and they find that ones without fathers are much more likely to be suspended in grade eight. I don't find it difficult or in any way inconsistent to say a bunch of boys are struggling in a system of patriarchy. I don't find that weird. It's not a difficult thing for me. I don't consider that gymnastics. For example, I was in India. India is a very patriarchal country, but it also has a system of cast oppression in which Dalit men are denigrated. That's not mental gymnastics.

MATT BURGESS: That's a good parallel. So would it be fair to say that men are overrepresented at both the top and the bottom in American society?

ALICE EVANS: Yes. I think that's fair to the CEOs, the patent inventors, the cultural heroes, the savior in your Hollywood films, the guy, the hero who does it all. Yeah, he's a guy. And then the people in the prisons, the homeless and criminals are primarily men. Again, I don't find it tricky to talk about that spectrum.

MATT BURGESS: I think what you frame it that way, you're framing it in an empirical way, right? It's harder to disagree with it. It's more nihilist.

ALICE EVANS: I can't talk about anything apart from data.

MATT BURGESS: Which I love. That's why I wanted to interview you so badly. Okay. So maybe as a last question, moving back to 1,000 feet up, I suspect some of our listeners who are both logical and paid close attention, might be somewhat confused by the following, or maybe it's just me and I'm projecting. And that is, okay, on the one hand, we talked about how things like biology are going to create some disparity. So prison being a safe example, we talked about some other examples. We talked about how disparities can create unfairness. So we were just talking about that.

ALICE EVANS: They're using the term unfairness because that's a normative concept.

MATT BURGESS: So two kinds of disadvantages-

ALICE EVANS: Or disparities maybe get bigger disparities because of culture and institutions.

MATT BURGESS: I'm using the word disadvantage, and I don't think it's too normally loaded, in the following two ways. So one sense that we talked about already was the idea that if there's a disparity in a workplace, that makes the workplace less welcoming to whichever group is underrepresented. The second way is that there's certain kinds of professions, we talk about it in the contexts of diversity and science and different people thinking differently, and making teams stronger as being a benefit. There's other cases, for example, there's some evidence that I think Richard Reeves also talks about, that boys can benefit from male teachers. I believe this is especially the case for African-American boys in the US.

ALICE EVANS: I haven't seen the data that's showing-

MATT BURGESS: Is it contested?

ALICE EVANS: Yeah, it is contested. There is an experiment in Finland and that experiment seems good. I don't know how much wider evidence there is. So the experiment in Finland is good and it is plausible, and it will be great if that was the case, because if you've got 64% of black mothers being single and we realize that that has a negative effect on boys cognitive development and educational development and likelihood of delinquency, then you definitely, then a policymaker may try to turbocharge male role models. I don't know how much great evidence there is beyond Finland's case. It's not rock solid

MATT BURGESS: I certainly haven't seen a lot of studies on this, but I could swear to the one that I did see that was empirical wasn't the American context-

ALICE EVANS: But it's also true that black American men comprise 2% of all teachers. It's a plausible hypothesis that black disadvantaged boys do not have many positive role models. So I'm not denying it. I'm just not saying I've seen so much evidence.

MATT BURGESS: The crux of the question is that, so on the one hand, I think we've said that some disparities are likely to be driven by things that are very hard to change, shall we say, to stick to the non-normative frame. And then on the other hand, that disparities create disadvantage and that disparities in high status occupations and in politics or the defining characteristic of patriarchy. If your goal as a society is to be, I won't say fair because that's normative, but to be one where people have the greatest freedom to flourish and to self-actualize, and also to have their interests represented in things like politics. Do we expect to want a society pursuant to that objective that has 50, 50 men and women in every occupation? And if not, how do we know when we're done?

ALICE EVANS: Okay, so let me say three things. Number one, I misspoke if I gave the impression that what only matters is high status positions, because of course we should also think about the gender pay gaps for working class communities. So in the European Union, there is a 10 hours maximum regulation of how many hours you're allowed to work today. And what that means is that among the working class of that is the non-manager people, even though men could work a much longer day because they don't have normative childcare responsibilities, their workday is limited to that of the same as women. So among those communities, the gender pay gap is relatively small. So I think it's important to address gender parity at all parts of the income distribution, not just with women at the top.

The woman who is the cleaner, the teacher, the nurse, her life isn't that affected whether there are a bunch of CEOs or not. What also matters is her earnings relative to other men in her status, in her community, and whether she can afford a car, a house, et cetera. I just wanted to make that point, that it's just about what high status women can do. And patriarchy isn't just determined by who makes the laws at the top, it's also about our earnings and culture and cultural representations and what's seen as appropriate.

MATT BURGESS: To put a slightly finer point at that, suppose that we had a world where the government was half women, where full-time working men and women had the same median income, so there's no pay gap. And yet it was still the case, suppose that the pattern like the Netherlands held that among full-time workers, the men were disproportionately working jobs that were more dangerous and longer hours. Among part-time workers women were overrepresented, but that didn't affect the pay gap because the pay gap is zero. So women are earning the same income as men despite those patterns. We're not going to have prison quotas. So we still have massively overrepresented men in prisons, et cetera. Would that be a gender equal society?

ALICE EVANS: Well, so for example, Taiwan comes pretty close to what you were saying. So it's got very high rates of female employment. Its parliament is 44% female and it's got a twice elected female PM, who has 77% approval rating. She did fantastically over COVID in managing a very tech-savvy democracy, et cetera. But rape is still a total stigma. And a woman who is sexually abused or coerced remains silent. Recently, a couple of years ago, a woman killed herself rather than admit what happened. So still there can be that cultural ideal, those cultural norms enforcing silence because women are so embarrassed and ashamed and would rather die. In some conservative cultures, rape is seen as a fate, as bad as death. It is social death. And for that reason women stay quiet.

And as long as victims stay quiet, then perpetrators enjoy impunity because they can do it without anticipating backlash because they know victims are scared into submission. And if victims never ever see public accountability, then they remain quiet because they think it's not worth going to. I'm sure of the statistics that a quarter of all US college students have been sexually coerced. It's high.

MATT BURGESS: That's an interesting one because I believe that statistic is disputed-

ALICE EVANS: Oh, really?

MATT BURGESS: ... in the sense that-

ALICE EVANS: All I was trying to say is that even in a culture where women can enjoy political power, where the gender pay gap is very small, there can still be a bunch of culturally oppressive norms that enable men to rape with impunity because women are so silenced and scared. I was wrong to make the jump to the US because that's a totally different system, and I'll double check that stat. But I just wanted to highlight that there are so many different aspects of patriarchy, and I know you're trying to get me to think about what is a gender equal society? What would that look like? There are just so many cogs, right? There are so many different cogs. We need to think about all these different income groups, all these different clusters of society, all these different dimensions and domains of patriarch.

So this is why what I'm doing, often when people study gender inequality, they just look at one domain. So for example, Claudia Goldin's brilliant book looks at the labor market participation of college educated US women over the past century. What I'm saying is that we need to look at all these different dimensions, violence, representation, culture, et cetera. Economic autonomy. And then see how they all mix together and see how they change over time and see why they differ between places. It's a very, very boring academic answer, but we can see these general patterns and that a society becomes progressively more gender equal with job creating economic growth and feminist activism. And then the other point was, I realized more recently and was a wake-up call for me, in my field of work, I also saw the importance of universities in catalyzing social change, because young people are living for the first time in their life independently, and they're mixing and mingling freely, and they're developing these peer groups and they're emboldening each other.

And we talked earlier about female friendships, but male friendships are important there too. Is the youth challenging the gerontocratic patriarchs, pushing for their own ideals. It's men and women pushing for sexual liberation in the 1970s. And then in the US also, television shows in the 1970s were enormously important because people became more familiar with these slightly diverse individual characters like the Mary Tyler Moore Show or All in the Family, M*A*S*H, all sorts of building familiarity with a diverse range of customs. And people became more accepting, more open-minded and tolerant. So that's another example of a society becoming more gender equal in that it's not just about the share of women in employment, but whether people culturally accept it and whether that's revered and recognized.

I want to give another example, going away from objective data. In the USA, if you look at female employment by region over the 20th century, we see that it was pretty similar in all regions. So just as many women in the Southeast were employed as women in the Northeast, there wasn't a big divergence. But the Southeast at the time was much more religious. This was the Bible belt. And also the South was less economically developed. So even though women were in the workforce, they couldn't really aspire for careers. The South was poorer. So many of those women were in crappy jobs, working in a diner, for example, being disrespected at work, working in a Walmart. So to them, the feminist revolution of the 1970s of showcasing independence, of showcasing women by themselves, wasn't seen as a wonderful great thing if you are in an insecure, undignified job that offers you little reward or security or dignity or support, and you are also in a religiously conservative, homogeneous environment.

To them when they see these ideas, it is threatening. I just wanted to highlight how it's about the interplay between culture and economics that's really important. We can't just say we need economic parity and then it's gender equal. Because the South was just, in terms of labor market participation, it was the same as the Northeast. But there was actually a massive counter movement, a counter patriarchal backlash among so many of those evangelicals. Evangelicals were especially opposed to this idea of female independence. And so you saw the emergence of lots of advice literature, of talk show radio. So there was books like Marabel Morgan's book, The Total Woman, all these talk show radio shows really propagating the idea that women should be staying in the home.

So a lot of it is cultural, and through persuasion, through using media and through Fox News, for example, more recently people propagate these patriarchal ideals. And so evangelicals to the group that are most opposed to female leaders in the US.

MATT BURGESS: Okay. So you mentioned persuasion, the importance of persuasion, both for and against patriarchal norms. And you mentioned the role of universities in pushing against patriarchal norms. And so I want to bring that together in the context of a topic that is quite close, I think to the origin story of the Benson Center, which is this idea of free speech on campus. And as I understand it, there are forces against free speech on campus in the US that come from both the right and the left. As I've experienced and as I've seen, the forces that oppose free speech from the right mostly originate off campus. And the ones that oppose free speech from the left, many of them originate on campus. And the ones on the left that oppose free speech often do so in language in using concepts that are either implicitly or explicitly intended to be feminist.

And so I wanted to ask you about that. Does the role that you see of colleges in persuading people towards more gender equal norms as you see it, does that require less free speech or more, or is that a dumb dichotomy than I'm trying to shoehorn you into?

ALICE EVANS: Okay, so let me make the distinction between, may I talk about human history and then we can also talk about present day US campuses. So in human history, in human history, particularly the 1970s, in Turkey today, in India today, I'm interested in the big global picture. Their universities can be catalytic if someone migrates independently. Now they're suddenly living for themselves. Now a guy is suddenly cooking for himself. Now in Turkey or in India, a woman is navigating the world independently. She needs to work out a place to live. She needs to organize with other people, she needs to do things for herself. And without watchful eyes women can mix and mingle. So I was in the Southeast Kurdish region of Turkey on the border with Syria in Midian, and Madina has a university. And so you can see women and men staying late into the night socializing in cafes like Starbucks.

Before, those cafes were just totally male dominated. It would be socially inappropriate for a woman to go. And a woman who dared to put foot, people would think, what is she up to? She's up to no good. So that is another cultural example about gender equality, that it would be questioned. Why was she there? She must be a prostitute to be mixing with men. Just going into a cafe would be socially questioned, inappropriate. Same with Cambodia where I used to stay. And so now you have all these universities, these students come in, they're without their parents. No one is watching them, no one is reporting them, so it's socially acceptable. And as more women mix and mingle with men and form friendships, then those cafes become more female friendly and it's fine for other women to go. Konya, for example, the heartland of religious conservatism has radically changed in the past five years as a result of more universities firing up.

Because now women are coming from all over. Their parents aren't seeing, maybe they're tying their hijab in a slightly different way. Maybe they're not wearing the hijab. This is shocking. Five years ago, if a woman walked down Konya's gold streets where they sell gold, without the hijab, everybody would stare. But now it's normal because there are so many students coming in without parental supervision. So universities are a massive catalyst of cultural transformation if students can live independently. And all this interacts with the economy, if parents can afford it, if living costs are subsidized. In India they might be put into a hostel to preserve their reputation. So that's the global historical perspective on universities. And we certainly saw campuses in Paris, in Boston, in New York, those were the hotbeds of revolution where people were rethinking ideas, challenging gerontocratic patriarchy.

Now let's come to the very specific question of US campuses today. And this, as I understand it, is motivated by ideas for inclusion and well-meaning people wanting to create safe, inclusive, supportive spaces where everyone can thrive. There has been a focus on policing discourse, on what kinds of things are appropriate to say. This emphasis on discourse and terminology is to the best of my knowledge, not so well-supported empirically. I read widely on gender equality and what drives it, et cetera. Never in my life have I seen a study demonstrating that terminology matters, that woke inverted terminology can advance gender equality. In fact, as Jonathan Haidt has argued, that this may lead people, what he calls it, The Coddling of the American Mind, in that people, if they don't have to defend their views against those who might question them, if they're not exposed to diversity, yes, then that may have negative effects on thought.

And I think the more dangerous thing that I see personally is that you have now a very vocal group, a very, very vocal group pushing for what they think is right and championing each other and encouraging each other and having a sense of righteous resistance and being supported by each other. And then another set of people who are more on the fence and not so strongly, but staying quiet because they worry about social condemnation. So lots of academics have said to me, for example, that they stay quiet on things because they don't want to be attacked.

MATT BURGESS: I've heard similar things.

ALICE EVANS: And people are genuinely attacked. So for example, I have colleagues working on evolution, working on social psychology, working on biology, where they may be attacked for identifying biological differences between males and females, because that is now associated, well, because that now has implications for issues of trans, for example

MATT BURGESS: Right. The trans topic is relatively new in terms of this kind of dynamic. This has been oodles of fun. I really appreciate you making the time. Dr. Alice Evans, thanks again for coming on the Free Mind podcast.

ALICE EVANS: Thank you so much. This is great fun.

MATT BURGESS: The Free Mind podcast is produced by the Benson Center for the study of Western Civilization at the University of Colorado Boulder. You can email us feedback at freemind@colorado.edu or visit us online at colorado.edu/center/benson. You can also find us on social media. Our Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube accounts are all @BensonCenter. Our Instagram is @thebensoncenter. And the Facebook is at Bruce D. Benson Center.