Who cares if the future is female?
Stats aren’t for everybody.
I mean, math is hard and the fundamentals of statistics can be tricky to grasp if you haven’t been exposed to them, or you were never fortunate enough to go to university and be taught them.
Even in the latter’s case, they can be a slippery concept for more creative brain types.
Unfortunately, journalism is a field that attracts creative types. It’s a joke among journalists that if they could do math they’d have understood they weren’t going to get rich on a journalist’s salary.
It’s that lack of statistical literacy among journalists that leads to articles like this getting published by Reuters today.
“What happens when women run the economy,” the headline screams out before dramatically adding “we’re about to find out.”
The article lays out the current situation in the G7 countries, with particular attention given to the economic engine that is the United States.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen leads up a group of high-ranking female cabinet members in the Biden administration. In fact, 48% of his cabinet is female, a high-water mark.
Outside of the United States, the article lists several other women in important financial positions. They include European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde, Kristalina Georgieva of the International Monetary Fund wand Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from the World Trade Organization.
It finishes by pointing out that females are the finance minister in 16 countries worldwide and lead 14 central banks. Again, these are historically high levels.
All this is fine and makes for interesting trivia. But, what the article concludes next is where they lose the plot – and where that lack of statistical understanding by journalists comes into play.
If they did, they’d understand that one of the most basic tenants of statistics is that “correlation is not causation.”
Stats people pretty much have that phrased tattooed on them it’s so central to the discipline. What it means is that just because two things correlate it does not necessarily mean that one causes the other.
Again, this is a core concept in the statistical world. It’s well understood and accepted to be true.
Yet, the article commits the logical fallacy of connecting the fact that there are more females in powerful financial positions with changes in financial policies. The article focuses on a greater investment in what they call “human infrastructure” – stuff like day care, or money for geriatric homecare.
There may very well be a shift towards funding that sort of stuff, but it’s not because women are in charge. No, women who rise to these types of positions are still very much part of the same economic system that their male counterparts came from. There’s nothing special or unique about setting monetary policy when you have ovaries.
The reason there is a greater investment in those “caring”: areas is because the pollical winds are blowing that way. Nothing more than that. Politicians set policies that they think will get them re-elected.
There have, after all, been a lot of female leaders around the world for a long time now. Females have run Great Briton, India and other massive economies in the past and there wasn’t a significant change in direction to more “caring” investment, whatever that means exactly.
What we are seeing now is a continuation of identity politics driving the narrative. Don’t pay the game.
Women will display the exact same sense of political opportunism when setting economic policy as men have in the past. And they should be judged in the exact same ways.