Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How Orwellian : Gaps in understanding the meaning of equality

The WEF's Gender Gap report (PDF) redefines inequality as equality. 

US Educational Attainment (page 370)

The female to male ratio of USA enrollment in tertiary education is 1.41 but it is scored as "1" (1 = Equality). There is no extra credit given for women being in an advantageous position as the maximum score is one. When there is a gender gap where men suffer then it is defined as equality.

Fiji Educational Attainment (page 198)
The result of truncating the score at 1 is that Fiji's Educational Attainment has women equal to men or leading men in 3 of the 4 subcategories but because they trail in one subcategory the entire category is graded as showing inequality to women.

Cameroon Health and Survival (page 158)
Further, they define the "equal" life expectancy ratio at 1.06:1. If men and women have the same life expectancy, like Cameroon, then that is marked as inequality. 

Also note that the Sex ratio at birth is bounded at a predetermined "equal" value of 0.94 instead of Cameroon's actual 0.97. The result is that despite being equal in life expectancy and higher in sex ratio at birth the result is a overall Health and Survival score of 0.961 – Not Equal. 

As an aside, I'm unclear as to why "Sex ratio at birth" is a significant category. It doesn't capture female infanticide (except for sex selective abortion) and unlike most categories it doesn't seem determined by traditions or social institutions. A cynical person might suggest that it is a subcategory added solely to lower the Health and Survival average and to game the OMGsomethingHasToBeDone system.

Burundi Health and Survival (page 154)
Burundi's women have a higher sex ratio at birth than average and a higher life expectancy than men. This may lead some to think men are suffering inequality. Not according to the WEF. Because the sex ratio at birth score is capped at 0.94 and because women outlive men but do not outlive them to a sufficient degree that means the women of Burundi are the ones suffering inequality. 

In Australia (p120) men have a lower life expectancy than women by 3 years which the WEF scores as women suffering a gender gap. 

It is interesting to note the existence of a category listed under "Additional Data - Social Instutitions" : "Quota type" which notes if there are laws requiring a quota of female candidates or if laws require seats in the legislature be reserved for women.

On page 4 they acknowledge that they could present both gaps in the achievements of women and also the gaps in men's achievements but "We find the one-sided scale more appropriate for our purposes.

One might get the impression these are not the most rigorous egalitarians.

the critique of the WEF Gender Gap report continues here.

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