February 20, 2007

Feminism leads to more nepotism

The rise of two career couples in recent decades has increased the importance of who-you-know relative to what-you-know. The huge increase in working women has increased the opportunities for nepotism because, if you come from a well connected family, you now have virtually double the number of powerful people you are related to. The term "nepotism" originated in Italy, where the nephews of Popes tended to do very well for themselves. But now, if you come from a high ranking family, you can have not only powerful uncles but also powerful aunts as well, nearly doubling your chances of being related to somebody with pull in your field. On the other hand, if you come from a family with no connections, well, two times zero is still zero, so you are no better off.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

feminism is a cruel hoax perpetrated on men and women alike. women work because they have to, not because they want to. two people working now make (inflation adjusted) what one person made 30 years ago. someone will have to explain to me how that is "progress".

Anonymous said...

Thing is, women who come from more affluent backgrounds are the women who are more likely to get the work that would offer their offspring more connections. If they weren't working, they would already have several of those connections due to the schools they probably graduated from and the social networks they most likely belong to. G. William Domhoff in his book Who Rules America? wrote about this phenomenon. While I do not agree with every word that Domhoff puts forth, given that much of it is too absolutist for my taste, he has an important arguement here. But let's take a scenario using some of Domhoff's work, shall we?
Let's say Susie Q goes to The Windsor school, a wealthy all-girls New England prep school. Windsor sent roughly 15% of their graduating classes to Harvard, Yale or Princeton from 1998 to 2001. With a larger percentage of women than men attending universities currently, and with her economic standing giving her a large advantage, it's likely Susie could end up at one of these universities, or one of comprable status (no evidence here, but you can definitely feel free to fact-check me on it). Lets say that Susie doesn't want to work and is more interested in being a stay at home mom. Maybe she marries Joe Schmoe, who graduated from the Cate School in Santa Barbara and has around a 12% chance of going to Harvard, Yale or Princeton. After graduating from one of these universities, Joe has a more than 55% chance of going on to be a wealthy white-collar executive, with a large chance of holding the position of president or vice-president. For the sake of your arguement, Joe's position is irrelavent. Nevertheless, Joe and Susie's money together can get them a position in an expensive country club, which Susie's money can pay for them to attend. Joe's position can get them past any screening process, as Joe probably knows someone already in the club from his company.
Now then, Joe's friends at the office become Susie's friend at the club, as well as their wives. They create social capital and are able to link up their children with anyone who they become close to.
Now what difference would it make if Susie held a similarly high positioned job? Honestly, I'm curious. Please use a little evidence this time.
All information taken from Domhoff's book.

Anonymous said...

Back in the old days, women actually had a lot of work to do around the house. Not just sitting around watching Oprah, but cooking, cleaning, taking care of several kids, home manufacturing (making clothing, mending clothing, knitting, preparing preserves...). Automation and mandatory public schooling got rid of much of that.

And with the Flynn Effect (maybe just related to adequate nutrition and antibiotics), many women became smarter. Those chores remaining after automation were seen as boring, simple as that.

I'm critical of feminism, but some of its basis is that smarter women are more common than before.

As to why families now need two salaries to pull their weight? Americans "need" two cars per family, 2-3 TVs per family, Playstation, Internet, premium cable, toasters, microwaves, and other expensive luxuries that weren't part of the "standard package" three generations back. After WW2, people were happy to have an affordable mortgage and chicken for dinner (whose slogan was that - "A Chicken in Every Pot"?).

If a family were content to do without so many modern appliances and "necessities," one working dad probably could pay for 5 kids. American "gimme, gimme, I see therefore I must have" is behind all this. Part of the "horrrors" of Communism was that people simply did without so many frills. Simple clothes instead of new "fasions" every "season." Entertainment was a few friends sitting around drinking vodka and singing together while someone played guitar. No $9 per seat movie tickets (plus $25 more dollars for candy, soda and popcorn). But people had the basics, which is more that can be said for Russia now.

Americans really don't get it: affluence is very expensive!

Anonymous said...

It is called the "hot house" effect. The UN refers to Korea as being the prime example.

In more traditional societies where it is the norm for women to raise children at home there is a double whammy effect. Because they are educated they tend to have smaller families to look after. With a highly educated mom at home and only one or two kids to hover over the children become super highly educated.

Anonymous said...

Stay at home women married to powerful men didn't have connections before? Unless they were holed up 24-7 in their houses, at the very least they knew the other wives (and children) of powerful men in their neighborhood. And they very often were involved in charities and civic activities.

Are you referencing a study? I ask because you stated this increased nepotism as fact, and I'm not sure if I missed the link at some point.

Anonymous said...

"MacDonalds" longs for that sweet Soviet life. Maybe he's read too many back issues of the magazine with the same name?

Sitting 'round the fire, newspapers tucked snuggly into shoes for warmth, grinnin' and pickin' the guitar with the other 12 people living in your apartment, drunk on that cheap vodka...livin' large until the knock on the door at 3AM. Whoops! One of your nonmaterialistic comrades has turned you in for "speculating on the black market." Now he gets first dibs on your wife.

There is no evil build-up of social capital in the glorious CCCP. There is only the good pecking order of how high you are in the Party, which is different, somehow.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the big difference between Communism and Nazism is that the Nazis would kill millions of people on purpose and the Communists would kill millions of people by accident. (Whoops, our plan to grow plants according to socialist principles failed!)

Anonymous said...

SFG, the Soviets deliberately starved to death, and shot, millions of Ukrainian peasants. Those peasant bastards just wouldn't accept good, sound Soviet principles.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't just about starving people in communist paradises. I'm not sure what the numbers of those simply murdered by Soviet security forces would be, but I know they're in the millions, not the thousands.

Mao, by the way, in his first few years consolidating power, boasted that they had ferreted out and liquidated over 5 million enemies of the revolution. That was before he killed 40 million people in a few years of incompetent farming practices.

Anonymous said...

Modern feminism is nepotism of a different sort. Nepotism for hiring and politically supporting women "of a certain type." Leftist, educated, activist--otherwise women can forget the feminist nepotism machine.

As for feminism supporting "traditional nepotism" that would actually come from the advances of women brought by an earlier generation of feminists--not today's radicals.

Pol Pot purged millions in Cambodia. The Vietnamese communists purged at least a million in their takeover. North Korea continues to purge on a daily basis. Cuba purged at least a hundred thousand. Active murderous purging--not accidental. China purged millions. The USSR purged at least a million, long before starving the peasants in the Ukraine.

Anonymous said...

But Margaret, they had free health care.

This idea is go-nowhere, Steve. Women have always been the power behind the throne. Probably impossible to measure the bumps up or down, and if we could, who cares?

Anonymous said...

Good point, guys. I do still think the Commies were a little less methodical in their mass killings and incompetence played a much larger role (which isn't intended as a defense of Communism--imagine the moral implications of a system that kills people by accident), but my quip isn't quite correct.

Anonymous said...

This idea is go-nowhere, Steve. Women have always been the power behind the throne.

Would you care to provide more details?

It is indisputable that some women (mostly mothers) have been able to manoeuvre their male offspring into more favourable positions, mostly by sabotaging the reproductive efforts of other women.

However, the vagaries of life in powerful regimes could sometimes lead to heartbreaking experiences. For example, Mehmet II, upon the death of his father, killed all his half-brothers and repatriated all his father's other mothers (See, for example, Runciman's The Fall of Constantinople.)

However, Chinese Emporers had much more control over these things and women were very rarely the power behind the throne, perhaps because the Chinese recognized that multiple wives and concubines all had diverging interests.

Anonymous said...

Ruth says:

Now what difference would it make if Susie held a similarly high positioned job? Honestly, I'm curious. Please use a little evidence this time.

Bill Gates' mother ...

Anonymous said...

It can be even worse than traditional nepotism for two reasons:
1. If you are being helped by a powerful aunt or a powerful spouse (and the spouse, as is common for the upper professional class has retained her name) the last names is no help in weeding out nepotism. That is why it is often something of a surprise when someone asks "Did you know that so-and-so and so-and-so are married?"
2. We haven't quite caught up to the new phenomenon. We assume that its purely an "old boy's network" even though there are some powerfully connected women out there as well, especially in academia, non-profits, entertainment, etc.

Anonymous said...

More people playing the game = more plays. Yawn. And I'm not even buying that.

Proof of "women are the power behind the throne"? Why not ask for peer-reviewed literature on "birds of a feather" and "a stitch in time" instead?

It simply contravenes common experience to assume that women as a group are powerless or even relatively powerless across time in any settled society. For one thing, they are half (or more) of the population of the world.

But OK, here's an example. The fact that Lysistrata was a successful comedy and endures. That's as close to QED as you can get in cultural anthropology, or whatever it is we're doing. Footnotes forthcoming after I get back from my date.

Anonymous said...

What's so bad about nepotism? It's natural for a parent to want to give his child an advantage in life, and in any case, nepotism is often tempered by the effects of meritocracy.

Successful parents often have talented children who are capable of handling top roles in their enterprises; when they are not, the parents are usually smart enough to replace them.

dougjnn said...


Good point, guys. I do still think the Commies were a little less methodical in their mass killings and incompetence played a much larger role (which isn't intended as a defense of Communism--imagine the moral implications of a system that kills people by accident)

Well, you’re still wrong.

The Communists in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, N. Korea, etc. kill more civilians intentionally and methodically than the Nazis. That they also killed even more than that by failed civilian economic policies that they insisting on persisting with long after it became obvious that the resulting civilian deaths were beyond horrific, does not exactly ameliorate the intentional and methodical civilian killings. See “The Black Book of Communism”, the French scholarly tome available in fairly recent English translation, which is easily the most definitive work on the subject.

You hold your views in no small part most likely because the media in this country don’t EVER challenge those sorts of views. Or diminishingly rarely, and then only in small viewer/readership settings. No Schindler’s list about Communism has ever been made, nor anything comparable to the 20 next most widely seen Holocaust heavy viewing experiences. And undoubted much more than 20 down the list.

Anonymous said...


Both the "Education/Friction" and "Feminism/Nepostism" links on the front page point to the feminism article.

Anonymous said...

NATIVE BORN WHITE WOMEN have been forced into the labor market because NATIVE BORN WHITE AMERICANS have been forced to compete with asian, muslim,hispanic and african LEGAL IMMIGRANTS for the scarce resources of OUR AMERICA.

For example, we are competing with them for affordable living/breeding space. Land for affordable living?breeding space is in fact scarce.

Land-thanks to the efforts of environmentalists-has been set aside for endangered plant and animal species,watershed protection and farmland.

The US housing market-along with the US labor market-has been gobalized.

LEGAL IMMIGRANTS from asia,the muslim world and latin america also drive up property taxes massively. Throw in a reassessment, and NATIVE BORN WHITE AMERICAN FAMILIES are put in an impossible situation:sell your home or loose it in a tax lien sale to a predatory asian or muslim LEGAL IMMIGRANT.

Moving only buys a NAIVE BORN WHITE AMERICAN FAMLIY a few years. The process repeats itself in the greener pastures.

No wonder NATIVE BORN WHITE FERTILTY has dropped below replacement level.

The vast majority of ordinary YOUNG NATIVE BORN WHITE AMERICANS have not been made better by having both parents work.

The Vast majority of ORDINARY NATIVE BORN WHITE WOMEN would very likely have an extra two possibly three children if they didn't have to work.

When I go the new and growing suburbs of Charlotte NC during Christmas, I see lots of young pregnant NATIVE BORN WHITE AND PROTESTANT WHITE WOMAN-most of them transplants from LEGAL IMMIGRANT INFESTED AREAS OF AMERICA-pregnant with young children hanging off them. Not having to pay 12-15 thousand dollars a year in property taxes a year and not having to pay 800 to a milion dollars a year for what is basiclly a 1960s factory workers home- like they did in the non-white LEGAL IMMIGRANT INFESTED areas of OUR AMERICA- enables NATIVE BORN WHITE CHRISTIAN FEMALES TO ENGAGE IN NORMAL FEMALE BEHAVIOR.

NATIVE BORN WHITE CHRISTIAN FEMALES do in fact like having babies-when given the opportunity.

Warm regards

Anonymous said...

Jupiter, thanks for the comic relief.

dougjnn said...


I posted that comment quoting SFG and responding to him in the comments section of the wrong iSteve post.

Anonymous said...

Charles Murray talked about this in The Bell Curve. There is a higher correlation of IQs between husbands and wives than between brothers and sisters. People used to meet their mates in church, now they meet in college. Doctors used to marry nurses, layers used to marry secretaries. Now doctors marry doctors and lawyers marry lawyers. The high incomes are concentrated in half the families.

Anonymous said...

Capitalist USA subsidized Pol Pot after Pol's killing spree.

Two million Cambodians died during this period. Capitalist Richard Nixon's bombing campaign and the devastation and destruction that followed in Cambodia, accounts for the second million.

It wouldn't be inaccurate to say that Pol Pot was a creation of Nixon's genocidal bombing campaign.

It was the socialist Vietnamese who ran Pol Pot out of town and kept him out for a long time. Give credit where credit is due.

Computers,the internet and browser technology are the result of the massive violation of free market principles.

The percentage of the population that can participate in the high-income, classy femminist nepotism game is obviously very small.

warm regards

Karna O'Dea said...

One thing I have learned is that one must be careful what one says about whom to whom in the work environment. It is quite likely these days that you are talking about their spouse, particularly as some professional women don't adopt their husband's surnames. And then there is the whole "musical chairs" "repartnering" phenomenon to add to the confusion and risk of unwittingly offending someone.

As for increased assortative mating by IQ and professional interest, I have a theory that this may explain the huge rise in autistic children. In the old days, slightly autistic men (scientists, engineers, etc.) would marry a pretty housewife type, but now they marry other professionals in cognate fields. This concentrates the "autistic genes".

Anonymous said...

A common form of feminism-induced nepotism, at least in academia, is the "two-fer." In this scenario, a university wants to recruit a rising star or established big gun away from a rival institution in another part of the country. However, Dr. Star (who could be male or female, although more likely male) has a spouse with an academic career of her own. She must be induced to accede to relocation with an offer of a job comparable to the one she already has, regardless of whether the recruiting institution really needs a(nother) specialist in her area and regardless of whether her career is brilliant or lackluster.

What's interesting about this phenomenon is that, in addition to feminism, it highlights the rise of the so-called meritocracy. Nowadays, smart people who aspire to or want to stay in the upper middle class MUST have "important" careers. No longer is it enough to be well-bred, charming and moderately monied. No, one must be ambitious as well - specifically, ambitious for a high-powered career.

The result of these trends, plus the tendency that Steve has mentioned many times of people to marry within their social class (bringing the meritocratic imperative to the marriage with them), is this husband-wife package deal.

Down with the meritocracy! Let's bring back the country-club aristocracy! At least they had nice manners.

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