woman averse to gambling risk

About Economic Risks and Rewards

In an Wired article with the promising title, “Silicon Valley isn’t a Meritocracy“, Alice Warwick doesn’t take long to make one of the dumbest statements I’ve read in a while:

If the tech scene is really a meritocracy, why are so many of its key players, from Mark Zuckerberg to Steve Jobs, white men?

It almost seems that you could compile an encyclopedia with examples of logical fallacies just by skimming feminist blog posts for a couple of hours. Here, Alice Warwick, let me teach you something.

First, you should have learnt about survivorship bias. Yes, some entrepreneurs are very successful. However, the great majority is not. Since you mention him, Alice, why don’t we spend some time discussing Mark Zuckerberg? Sure, he is a billionaire now, and inspiration to thousands of young men and women who are building their own startup. But do you think those thousands of people will all become billionaires as well? You know, Alice, just because one guy wins the jackpot doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to spend all your disposable income on lottery tickets.

Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to launch Facebook. Great idea, right? Well, it’s a great idea in hindsight. Look what Matt Welsh, one of Zuckerberg’s professors in the Harvard computer science department, had to say:

I thought that social networking sites were a complete waste of time — both for the users and those developing the sites — so I earnestly tried to talk Mark out of squandering his precious Harvard education on such a frivolous endeavor. “You think you’re going to compete against Friendster and Orkut?” was the general outline of my argument. There were already too many social networking sites out there, I claimed, and building yet another one was clearly a waste of time.

Some of you may not even remember Friendster anymore, or Orkut, or MySpace. The point is that Zuckerberg was up against pretty bad odds. The reasonable choice for him would have been not to drop out. If this is too philosophical for you, Alice Warwick, then maybe you remember something from the statistics classes you hopefully took. Let’s say you have a look at Wikipedia’s list of college dropout billionaires.

Wow, look at all those rich people! But not so fast, Alice! There are 30 college dropout billionaires, but does this imply that it’s a great idea to do as they did? I’m quite certain that the number of people who dropped out of college, or didn’t even attend college, and did not become millionaires or billionaires is many orders of magnitude larger than that. Zuckerberg took an enormous risk, but he also reaped astronomical rewards. Does this imply that Silicon Valley is sexist? If you look at all the “losers”, in other words, those who launch a startup and fail, or get nowhere for years, you can only conclude that despite the fact that the few winners are male, the vast majority of losers are male as well.

Women just don’t seem to want to take those risks. They don’t have to, but as long as they don’t, it seems rather silly to claim that the problem is sexism. Feminists cherry-pick their evidence and are either unable or unwilling to reflect over their perception of the world. To repeat: The risk-takers are predominately men, and consequently the few winners are men, but also the vast majority of losers. In Alice Warwick’s world it almost seems as if the wild economic success attained by a very few is not meritocratic just because there is no 50-50 gender split. However, where are all those female CEOs supposed to come from if women aren’t interested in making those big bets, the big gambles that sometimes that lead to great payoffs, but are much more likely to end in disaster?

The more rational choice for Zuckerberg, and Jobs, and many others who succeeded, would have been to continue on their chosen path towards a solid middle-class existence. Shall we use another example, Alice Warwick? Okay, let’s say you’re a professor at an elite university, and one of your first-year students told you he wanted to quit his studies and become a musician. The student is a young lad studying accounting at the London School of Economics, and his name happens to be — Mick Jagger!

This is not a joke. Mick Jagger did indeed study accounting at the London School of Economics. This would arguably have set him up for life. Instead, he took a gamble and became one of the most successful musicians in the world. He’s not Zuckerberg-rich, but with a few hundred million dollars in the bank he is quite a bit more comfortable than the average Joe. In hindsight he made the right choice.

In 1961, his choice was not rational, and there were thousands of boys his age who did the same thing who are now sweeping streets, collecting garbage, or tending bar.

The odds that you’re going to become a wealthy musician are laughably small. Even just getting by as a musician is incredibly difficult. The chance that the startup you’re working on in your bedroom will blow up to be worth billions of dollars is virtually zero, and so is your chance of becoming a tenured professor at Harvard, a successful author, an influential composer, a ground-breaking movie director, a lauded painter, or a star athlete. However, the reason why it’s so often men who end up in exactly those positions is because they do take those utterly irrational risks.

The vast majority will fail. Plenty will waste years if not decades of their life. Many will never recover economically from pursuing their dreams in their 20s and 30s. Yet, a very small and fortunate number does succeed. It’s mostly men who succeed because it’s mostly men who do take those risks. As a society we should be proud of those men–and also of all those who try but fail. I can’t help but think that instead of trying to guilt-trip men and insist that they enjoy some kind of “privilege,” a stronger focus should be on why women tend to avoid those risks.

The answer is of course that they are more risk-averse.

Without risk there is also no reward. This isn’t so bad, because if you don’t take any risks, you also minimize your chances of failure. But, dear Alice Warwick and all you other feminists, doesn’t it strike you as absurd that you do want to have your cake and eat it, too? You don’t want to take any risks, yet somehow society is supposed to turn women into CEOs, superstar programmers, tech billionaires and whatnot, even though they themselves make little effort to take the risks necessary do so?

This article is also available in Romanian.

About Jalon Cain (aka Aaron Sleazy)

Jalon Cain ("Aaron Sleazy") has extensively written on male and female dating behavior. His work includes two (free) books that helped to widely discredit the so-called seduction or "PUA" community. He recently developed an allergy against female and feminist bigotry.

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  • comslave

    We have more men homeless, therefore sexism. We need to create more homeless women.

    • comslave

      Women who are jealous of male success need to take a closer look at male failure.

      • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

        I was particularly moved by this piece because it points to something too few people have pointed out.

        I’ve taken enormous gambles a couple of times in my life in trying to run my own business (twice) and in throwing the dice and jumping in with a venture capital funded startup. All of them–all of them–went bust. And with only one exception, every person I know who ever took that kind of risk took big financial losses and never became successful. The one guy I do know is successful, but is not rich and likely never will be, he’s just got a stable business that provides him a modest income.

        I tire of what they used to call Horatio Algier stories and being told that men if they really want to can get fabulously wealthy by just working hard. Seen much too much of men who work their asses off completely and go bust anyway.

        This does not mean that every man who goes bust was unlucky or any man who gets rich was purely lucky, but if you think all it takes is gumption and hard work and a high IQ to get rich, you are sorely mistaken.

        Yes, every spectacular success came from a risk-taker. And for every spectacular success, there are probably at least 100 mediocre successes and a thousand failures.

        Of course that doesn’t mean “give up” but an awful lot of guys wind up throwing it in and going to find some corporate job, or just going to broke and resigning themselves to poverty.

        We look down on those men. We should stop that.

        • mrawarrior

          very well said!

      • The Real Peterman

        Exactly. Feminists always talk about how many executives are men, never how many garbage collectors. It’s almost like they don’t really care about equality!

        • Fredrik

          It’s hard to tell sometimes. Are they disingenuous, or just unthinking? It’s true that you will only ever see Richard Sherman on TV and not his dad, but it would only take a moment’s thought to realize that there are a lot more garbagemen than NFL stars. When they ignore the men that are less visible, is it on purpose, or just because they aren’t very bright?

          • http://vilo13.blogspot.com/ Lucian Vâlsan

            “is it on purpose, or just because they aren’t very bright?”

            A mixture of both I’d wager.
            Though more in the stupidity department for the useful idiots and more in the disingenuousness department for the leading ideologues.

          • Kimski

            I have my own theory on that one:
            I don’t think that the hypergamy factor allows them to notice the less visible men, because those men usually don’t represent a means to an end, financially.

            It just seems very probable that we’re dealing with some sort of inhereted biological and social filter here, just like female primates won’t notice lower status males, unless they have food to offer.

      • spencer

        I have thought about these issues for a while. Just what is it about Feminists that makes them feel so inferior? It is pretty clear they do not feel superior. They just want to. My harsh take on it is this:

        Look at the world. Sure, i’m doing it through male eyes of competitiveness. If I belonged to the gender whereby I was so clearly disadvantaged in all measurable ways (Emphasis on measurable, this is critical) I too would perhaps be frustrated. You can start with Athletes. What if due to my sex I could NEVER be best in the world? Not ever. Not even second best. Or third. In fact I could maybe be in the top few thousand. That’s depressing?. For a competitive male. But it doesn’t end there. Even the sports which don’t involve speed or strength. I could never be the best at those either. Or motor racing. All I would see on TV is the other sex being way better. Yet it still doesn’t end. Chess. There is little to no chance of a champion of my sex. Or the very top of Physics, maths. What about the creative arena? Nope, I cant win there either. All the best pianists are male. Even the best Violinists, despite more females take up violin, are still male. the best artists? Male. And only someone determined in serious self delusion explains this by “not enough women tried.”. In fact in every measurable way my sex would be second best. It is almost impossible to think of an exception. Perhaps that would “feel” devastating!?. I may want to artificially inflate my own position or artificially degrade that of the opposite sex, of whom, I would quite simply, be jealous.

        And yet. Sadly. It doesn’t even end there. As a female I would have to accept nature determined after the menopause I would become markedly less attractive to all but a very few, while the males could remain the most attractive individuals on the planet, such as Sean Connery, till their 70’s. I would have to tolerate periods, mood swings, the idea that i’m not just never going to be anywhere close to the best in the world at anything, (perhaps maybe writing), physically ill be inferior to almost half of the population who, if they so wished, could overpower me at will. I would perhaps be tempted to play on that out of frustration and my own futility in these measurable arenas. But that is all through a competitive mans eyes. For a woman, it shouldn’t feel that way surely?. Women don’t feel inferior because they know their alternative strengths. They are confident in them. In fact they feel genuine superiority in so many immeasurable, it doesnt concern them in the slightest, especially to a generally less competitive makeup, Many Feminists I seem to see behave as if they wish they were male. They try to be competitive, many even find other girls attractive. We already know the short hair stereotype isn’t just invented (sorry Karen!). So maybe, just maybe, these militant feminists actually see the world partially through male eyes. With burning envy. Which would explain their hateful actions and artificial attempts to elevate themselves above men in society and law, to create what in their frustrated minds would feel like net equality….

        • spencer

          Then we must add the feminist males. It doesn’t take a great deal of study, watching countless of their youtube videos, to see many of them clearly feel in the same boat. They are often weak, either physically or mentally and have a general aura of “I certainly couldn’t be the best at anything”. So they do all they can do. Try and pick the winning team. Right now, feminism is most certainly the winning team. It is the only hope they have to white knight themselves into a bedroom and provide themselves with the false hope that all of those above them are there by privilege. The most attractive girls are almost never feminists, either physically or mentally/ socially. Why would they need false powers? They have not denied the relative super powers they already posses, therefore don’t feel in the slightest bit hopeless. They are often socially so much more skilled than even the most intelligent males they can strut around feeling entirely superior. Mike Tyson maybe the toughest. They know they could take him down. Most men couldn’t. The denial of femininity in itself, takes away all of their home advantage and actually leads to frustrated feminism it seems.

  • Billybobownway

    “But, dear Alice Warwick and all you other feminists, doesn’t it strike you as absurd that you do want to have your cake and eat it, too?”

    No, they want the menz cake bcause patriarchy.

  • http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com Robert St. Estephe

    And why are so many accomplished people Jewish, including a huge share of female feminists? What can be done about this gentile intersectional marginalization, pray tell? Perhaps the tactic used by the “social justice” (collective guilt as social engineering ) industry up in Wisconsin can be adopted in order to assist members of the non-gentile community to improve their sensitivity. Forcing Jewish college students to wear a special “Jewish privilege” bracelet* and ordering them to keep a diary into which they will confess their transgressions against equality due to their traditional and oppressive “Jewish privilege?”

    [Note: Politically correct people frequently are so bereft of the nuances and valences of linguistic expression that they may not be able to ascertain that the above paragraph is written in a rhetorical mode which goes by the traditional name of "irony. Thus, let me state the facts clearly here. Dear PC-whipped zombie reader: The above paragraph is not to be taken literally. It is a joke. Got that? If you don't believe me, please consult an expert.]

    * [Dain Fitzgerald, “'White Privilege' Bracelets Recommended for Wisconsin Students; It's one way white kids can learn to undo their societal dominance, say educators,” Mar 13, 2013]
    http://politix.topix.com/story/5076-white-privilege-bracelets-recommended-for-wisconsin-students

  • Fredrik

    The “have your cake and eat it too” metaphor is old hat. Let us say instead that they want ice cream from heaven, with no thought of what it takes to make it.

  • The Real Peterman

    Another fine job, Aaron.

  • http://blog.StudioBrule.com Steve Brulé

    Excellent points!

    Why aren’t feminists decrying the lack of meritocracy in sports? High tech is very similar to professional sports: it’s extremely competitive, and the top end are comparable to the Olympic gold medalists. But there is no women’s category in tech and business, so you have to compete against everyone, including the men, in a free-for-all, winner-takes-all. And it’s a blood-sport.

    • Fredrik

  • John Narayan

    Alice Warwick is evidence that silicon valley is a meritocracy, also explains why she is a failure.

    Talk about penis envy.

  • justman

    While I agree that Silicon Valley is far from a meritocracy, that fact applies to all men AND all women. Lots of men of merit, and women too, were suppressed below their level of merit by the likes of Steve Jobs, who was just a particularly successful exploitative sociopath.

    But I would say that men who are part of this system are suppressed at a higher rate (fraction, percentage, whatever you want to call it) than the women.

  • John Narayan
  • J Galt

    Its also interesting that the top ten poker players in the world are all men. Must be those patriarchal decks of cards creating a glass ceiling that women can’t bluff past.

  • Mr. Sungame

    It’s interesting how risk taking in some fields are predominantly male, and yet none are predominantly female.

    The only field I could think of that might be considered “female risk taking” is the entertainment industry. How many waitresses isn’t there in Hollywood that is actually an actress/model/singer? But then again there is also a lot of male waiters with exactly the same aspirations.
    If anything entertainment is an egalitarian risk taker zone :P

    Also most women I hear of that “take the risk” to start their own thing are usually married to a man that makes money for the family. To a lot of these women there isn’t really a risk, as they are already living comfortably, and should they fail they are still supported.
    Where as for men this is often the opposite. They aren’t really supported, and if they fail they might find themselves in a situation where they no longer have a wife.

    So yeah, With great risk comes great reward, but also great loss. Most of us feel walking the straight and narrow is better. And it seems it’s men who are more willing to risk everything.