Tag Archives: peer pressure

There Is Gender And Racial Bias In The Legal Profession, But This Study Doesn’t Prove It…Because Of Bias

Incompetent, agenda-driven research leads to warped debates, hyped conclusion and bad policy. It also undermines credibility of those who cite some legitimate problems. The recent report, which proposes strategies for employers to eliminate the alleged barriers to women and minorities in the legal profession, is such research. It was conducted by the Center for  WorkLifeLaw at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, for the bar association’s Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

At least the New York Times headline, for once, was accurate., at least the online version: “Lawyers Say They Face Persistent Racial and Gender Bias at Work.” Yup, that’s what the survey showed. What it didn’t show is that there really is such discrimination, how much there is, or how it manifests itself. Here’s part of the executive summary:

Prove-It-Again. Women of color, white women, and men of color reported that they have to go “above and beyond” to get the same recognition and respect as their colleagues.

  • Women of color reported PIA bias at a higher level than any other group, 35 percentage points higher than white men.
  • White women and men of color also reported high levels of PIA bias, 25 percentage points higher than white men.
  • Women of color reported that they are held to higher standards than their colleagues at a level 32 percentage points higher than white men.

This demonstrates, at least within the reliability of the survey,  that minorities and women perceive that they are being discriminated against more than white males. That’s a useless result. We have seen and read, for example, how various African American activists and celebrities like Charles M. Blow and Ta’ nahisi Coates teach their sons that police are racists, and that they must fear them. As a result, they interpret all interactions with police through this prism. One doesn’t have to be a research ethicist to conclude that this warps their perception. Similarly, all women currently in the workplace have been bombarded by the media, activists, peers and the culture for most or all of their working lives about how hostile the workplace is to women.

At least four of the seven most common and insidious biases are at work:

1. Herd mentality: The tendency to adopt the opinions and follow the behaviors of the majority to feel safer and to avoid conflict. Also known as mob psychology, peer pressure, and group-think.

Members of groups seeking political power through maximization of perceived victim status are influenced by the needs, mission and perceptions of that group.

2. Confirmation Bias: the tendency to look for or interpret information in a way that confirms pre-formed beliefs.

If you already believe that you are going to be the target of discrimination, you will interpret events to confirm that belief.

3. Self-Serving Bias: when an individual attributes positive outcomes to internal factors and negative outcomes to external factors.

This is the most tragic phenomenon of both a history of bigotry towards certain groups and the laudable efforts to raise awareness of it to eliminate the conduct. It pushes women and minorities to blame external factors for their failures, and in so doing impedes their chances of success. I have previously written about my personal epiphany in this area, when an African American singer who I rejected for a challenging tenor role accused me outright of not casting him because of his color. He could not hit the notes the role required, and yet he was convinced that bias, and not his own deficiencies as a singer, was what cost him the part.

4. Bias Blindness: the tendency not to acknowledge one’s own thought biases.

I don’t doubt that there is considerable gender and racial bias in law firms. Indeed, I am certain of it. This kind of study, however, is not the way to sound the alarm, and smacks of either incompetence or dishonesty.

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Research and Scholarship, Workplace

Ethics Dunces: Boston Red Sox Players

owens pole

Yesterday, while watching the Boston Red Sox game on NESN as I always do EVEN WHEN THE TEAM STINKS, like this year, because no summer soldier I, team broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy pointed out that Sox rookie Henry Owens was watching the game while being taped to a pole, with his mouth taped shut as well.

This is old-fashioned baseball rookie hazing, as Remy explained (also opining that he thought it was stupid when he played and is stupid now). The theory is that this makes rookies part of the team, builds cohesion and spirit, and yada yada yada, all the same phony rationalizations that jerks have used to excuse hazing cruelty and sadism in fraternities, the military, cults and sports teams for eons. The Owens stunt was relatively mild (and mercifully short), but the practice of hazing is still institutionalized bullying, uncivilized, and, as Remy said, stupid.

Sports team players are home town heroes, and role models too. How many kids will be humiliated, tortured, injured or even killed because the Boston Red Sox thought it was funny to immobilize a 6’6″ rookie pitcher by taping him to a pole on live TV, thus teaching him that no matter how  good he may be at pitching (and Owens is going to be really good), he’s at the bottom of the pecking order until he “earns” decent treatment and respect. “In my experience, the guys who really liked hazing the rookies were the players who couldn’t play,” noted Jerry, a Sox regular in the Eighties.  They were sadistic bullies, in other words, making up for their own inadequacies by abusing others.

You can say that Owens consented, and that’s like arguing that Monica consented when the President of the United States wanted her to emulate a Bourbon Street hooker. Owens could refuse, and be regarded as a bad team mate, leading to a year or more of cut shoelaces, shredded uniforms, insulting messages on his locker and worse “jokes.” Or he could quit baseball and sell Slurpees rather than make a gazillion dollars. He had to submit, and had to smile about it.

So he did.

Even baseball players need to be better at ethics chess than this, and calculate the likely consequences of their conduct. Hazing is unethical, and glamorizing, modeling and trivializing it on TV is irresponsible.

And stupid.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Sports

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero: The Lone Juror, Adam Sirois

Juror 11

Commenter Penn posted a nuanced take on Adam Sirois’s dilemma. It would have been a COTD yesterday, but for some reason WordPress has decided to spam all of Penn’s comments of late, for no reason that I can detect. (I can only discourage commenters I ban by repeatedly spamming them until they go away.) If anyone else has a disappearing comment, e-mail me quick, and I can usually find it. I’m sorry: I swear, it’s not me!

One point before I turn the blog over to Penn. His first comment is about that photo, much criticized, of the lone juror raising his hand in the press conference and “smirking” or looking”sheepish,” or “smug.” I liked Ann Althouse’s take on that:

“The photographers must have taken thousands of pictures of Sirois’s face, and the newspaper editors have chosen one, one that supports the “smirking… sheepishly” characterization. If he “looks like a smug little prick” to you, that’s because the editors decided to help you think that and because the man just had an 18-day experience and was the kind of person who could stand up for his beliefs in a group setting for more than 2 weeks. Most people would cave and go along to get along. These people are much more likely to have a pleasant, unremarkable face.”

Now here is Penn’s spam-rescued Comment of the Day on the post Ethics Hero: The “Lone Juror,” Adam Sirois: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Comment of the Day: “The Hazing Abuse of Michael Warren”

Reminding us that one or even several incidents can’t give us the full whole measure of an organization, Hartwick College alum Fred Stoss recalls an act of courage and principle by the fraternity that hazed Michael Warren. Let Fred tell the story:

“I cannot defend the actions of what happened to Mr. Warren. I am a member of Alpha Delta Omega Fraternity, having pledged in 1969 and served as its President from 1971 to 1972. During this time our fraternity was a rather diverse community of whites, blacks, browns, Protestants (Hartwick was then a Lutheran College), Catholics, and Jewish. There is, however, a piece of ADO history (taken from the ADO FaceBook site) that deserves mention: Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Education, Etiquette and manners, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Comment of the Day: “The Hazing Abuse of Michael Warren”

Frequent commenter and anti-child abuse advocate Steven Mark Pilling catalogues the defenses and rationalizations offered here by collegiate commenters who thought my post was overly hard on pro-hazing Hartwick College. The references to “Hounddog” relate to a thankfully buried film shot five years years back that required a 12-year-old Dakota Fanning to be the victim in a graphic rape scene with an adult actor. Steven, along with Paul Petersen and others, successfully exposed the film’s skirting of laws and exploitation of Fanning. You can read my ethics commentary on that horrible story here and here.

“Jack: In reading those collegian posts and your responses, I almost had a feeling of deja vu. Isn’t it amazing how all the excuses and means of “defending the indefensible”- no matter what the specific issue- have points of commonality that immediately grab at you? When I was involved in the “Hounddog” issue, I ran into them all. I see many of them here… Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Education, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

The Hazing Abuse of Michael Warren

Michael Warren should have consulted Kevin Bacon...

A fraternity hazing story—yes, amazing as it seems, there are still hazings—raises the persistent ethical issue of whether a victim is responsible for his own mistreatment if he consents to it. Even if he shares responsibility, however, his consent does nothing to reduce the ethical failings of the abusers, or those of the irresponsible authorities who presided over a sick campus culture.

Michael Warren is an African American who was the only black pledge of the Alpha Delta Omega fraternity at Hartwick College (in Oneonta, New York). His potential “brothers” locked him in a bathroom with other pledges for hours, where they were subjected to ear-splitting music and strobe lights; he was forced, he says, to dress like a pimp, a humiliating bit of racial stereotyping; and, shades of the evil Omega Theta Phi fraternity in “Animal House,” was paddled so hard that he needed medical treatment (“Thank you, sir, may I have another?”). Warren complained, and found himself a pariah on campus, making him so uncomfortable that he gave up his scholarship to transfer to Hofstra. Now he is suing Hartwick, and his lawyer is arguing that his mistreatment by the fraternity “may have ruined his life.” Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Hey…Were the Gang Rapists of the 11-Year-Old Girl in Texas Abercrombie and Fitch Executives?

 

"And to think..our little girl is only eight!"

Well, no.

 

But since Abercrombie and Fitch is apparently eager to make its profits by turning little girls into 3-D child porn, this isn’t as unfair a question as it seems.

One of America’s largest clothing retail chains, Abercrombie & Fitch is marketing padded bikini tops to eleven-year-old girls…in fact, girls as young as eight.

The current spring line for Abercrombie Kids, a division of the fashion company dedicated to 8-14 year olds, is the “Ashley” Push-Up Triangle – a triangular-shaped bikini top which comes complete with thick padding for breast enhancement. And you thought Wal-Mart marketing cosmetics to twelve-year-olds was ominous. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Family, Gender and Sex, Popular Culture, U.S. Society