White Women Rule

Well, white women may not rule yet, but they will. Give them 25 years. Think of Hillary Clinton as a leading indicator: It doesn’t look like she’ll win the 2008 Democratic nomination, but she’s paving the way for the next generation.

I got a glimpse of the next generation at the Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony at William & Mary held in the Wren Chapel yesterday. One of my daughters, I’m proud to say, was among the 43 graduates honored. (Some 40 other students were inducted as well last fall, bringing the total to seven percent of the senior class.) Phi Beta Kappa represents the cream of the crop: students who demonstrated either outstanding leadership or academic abilities.

Two thirds of the inductees last evening were women. Nearly all were white. One young woman had a Vietnamese name; two honorees had what appeared to be Hispanic surnames but were pigmentally indistinguishable from the rest. (For those interested in regional disparities, out-of-state students were well represented among the group, but most of the Virginia students came from Northern Virginia.)

William & Mary is one of the nation’s leading universities, and its top-performing students are likely to ascend into the ranks of the business, professional and political elite (unless they pursue graduate degrees in arcane, dead-end fields like linguistics, grrrrr, but I won’t mention any names). Of course, W&M is only one school, and it may not be typical of what’s happening nationally. Virginia has a relatively small Asian population, and I suspect that students of East Asian and South Asian ancestry, like white women in Virginia, may be over-represented among the academic elite elsewhere.

Regardless, of the major demographic groups here in Virginia, white women are attending college in the greatest numbers. And, it appears, they are excelling in the greatest numbers. Young white women are entering the adult world best equipped with the cultural attributes and educational backgrounds required to succeed in an increasingly global, knowledge-intensive economy. Some people may take pleasure at the impending comeuppance for white males, who will be hard-pressed to maintain their traditional dominance, but for anyone hoping that Virginia’s top ranks will make more room for minorities, the Phi Beta Kappa indicator does not look promising.

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  1. will vehrs Avatar
    will vehrs

    Jim, congratulations to your daughter! Our nation’s young women are an incredible resource. They truly have the potential to alter every aspect of the future landscape.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    First, congrats to your daughter. That’s a great accomplishment.

    However, a few comments about your post:

    (1) Why the emphasis on “White” as opposed to “Women?” I buy women are doing much better but I’m not sure I can say that “White Woman” are doing even better than that. It could be W&M’s student mix, which I do not know. I do know that Berekely, rated No. 1 in the country for public universities ( some notches higher than W&M,) has a student population that is more than 40 percent Asian. Maybe that’s because more Asians live in California and prefer the more liberal environment as opposed to W&M’s more conservative one.

    (2) I’m not sure I would give too much credit to Hillary Clinton asd leading the charge for female accomplishment. Other than being an effective senator from New York, I’m not sure what she has accomplished other than being a lawyer in an elite firm in a small southern state capital whose husband happened to be governor. How about Condoleezza Rice, the first black female Secretary of State. She might not be the best one we’ve ever had but she is accomplished, arguably more so than Hillary.

    (3) I found myself feeling a bit creepy when I read: “One young woman had a Vietnamese name; two honorees had what appeared to be Hispanic surnames but were pigmentally indistinguishable from the rest.” Huh? What do you mean by “Hispanic.” Suppose they were Spanish. Are you implying that Spanish people are not as “White” as Brits or Germans or Swedes? I’d watch that, you might sound a bit off here.

    (4) As much as I love girls and have two accomplished ones of my own, I do think there is merit to crticisms that American society has lavished maybe too much attention on girls as opposed to boys who have been getting shortchanged as far as attention. I protested “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” when I was one of many editors at Business Week’s skyscraper and was regarded as some kind of Kluxer. But it struck me as overly biased, despite the fact that I have no sons.

    Anyway, Congrats again and I hope you have taken her out to dinner or made for some other celebartion.

    Peter Galuszka

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    As the parent of two non-Caucasian children, one female and one male, I think that Peter makes some good points, including the hearty congratulations.

    I must (somewhat reluctantly) defend Senator Clinton though. I strongly oppose most of her policies and have done so consistently over the years. But I think that she has been treated poorly and unfairly by the MSM and the crazed left. I wouldn’t argue that all of the criticisms made against her are all wrong. But nothing has changed. Those criticisms were equally valid earlier, but were not made when Hillary was “acceptable.”

    Now that the MSM and lefty loonies have fallen in love with the most hollwo empty suit candidate since Dan Quayle, they have hypocritically jumped on all her “faults” that weren’t faults before.

    Say what you will about Hillary, but she has at least proposed specific programs and policies and has, IMO, a much longer period of actually being in the rough and tumble of politics than the guy without any record and any real ideas beyond saying change.

    Senator Clinton has been held to a double standard, just like any other candidate who is not currently loved by the equally empty suits known as the MSM. I think that’s wrong and unfair to Hillary.

    This is a first for me — writing a defense of a Clinton. But so be it.


  4. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Peter, the reason brought skin pigmentation into the narrative is that when I was sitting there in the pew of the Wren Chapel the absence of “people of color” hit me like a brick. I am accustomed to seeing diversity on college campuses. The lily white complexion of the Phi Beta Kappas struck me not only as an anomaly but a phenomenon of potential social significance. (As you and I both observed, if I’d been attending a UCLA ceremony, the picture undoubtedly would have been very different, with a far larger representation, perhaps even a majority of Eastern or Southern, Asians. But this is Virginia.)

    I suspect that there are two trends going on: (1) Girls and women, whether for reasons of culture or biology, appear to be better adapted on average> than boys to the intellectual rigors and /or the collaborative nature of the knowledge economy. I have a 10-year-old boy. He is a bright lad, but he is far more kinetic than either of my daughters, and he has far more difficulty sitting still and focusing on studies. (2) Meanwhile, African-Americans, whether for reasons of history (slavery, Jim Crow), politics (poor schools) or culture (breakdown of the nuclear family, fear of “acting white,” whatever) are still playing catch-up with whites in terms of academic performance.

    I suspect that the combination of (1) and (2) go a long way to explaining why a disproportionate number of so many high achievers in college are white women.

    As far as my use of the adjective “Hispanic,” it is utterly meaningless as a term to describe race. Hispanic describes a wide variety of cultures and an even wider range of phenotypes, from Castillian, to Amer-Indian, to mestizo, to African-American, to mulatto. My point in mentioning the Spanish surnames was to simply avoid implying that none of the group were Hispanic when, in fact, a couple of them might well be.

    Too Many Taxes, Like you I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. But it is indisputable that she is an inspiration and role model to a large number of women (including my wife). As for my daughter, I am disconsolate to say, she is an “Obama girl.”

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Lately, Hillary has been claiming she has the support of the white working class.

    It occurred to me that it might not be the best sales strategy to claim to be popular with those that are (perhaps) less well educated.


  6. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Congratulations to Miss Bacon and all the family! Hooah!

    The talents of those who do well in school translate to talents rewarded well in the Information Economy. Clearly, there are many ways to wealth based on different skills.

    The translation of girls doing better than boys in school into power is different. We’ll see – or I may for a few more decades maybe.

    That difference is one of the things breeding Islamists in France – believe it or not. Muslim girls do well in school, get better paying jobs etc. than boys and the males resent it greatly.

    Jim: Was the cross behind the plastic to keep from exerting its exclusionary powers or out on the altar of the old Christian chapel?

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Women graduates are greatly increasing


    The intersting thing to me is that there is still a pay gap even when you equalize out for major

    Men apparently ask for more salary increases, negotiate more aggressively, and are more likely to leave a job and pursue higher pay elsewhere. Men are also more likely to be in management

    Women will always be hampered by the mommy track


  8. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    JAB: The cross in the Wren chapel was removed from the altar for the ceremony. No one was offended, unless they took offense by its absence.

    Nova Middle Man: While women on average are temperamentally better suited to achieve in school and academia, men may be temperamentally better suited to succeed in an entrepreneurial environment. Whether for biological or cultural reasons, I don’t know, but men are more willing to take risks. That means they are more likely to either succeed or fail spectacularly.

    I would offer the following hypothesis to be confirmed or rejected by observation over the next decade or two: that women will gravitate to professions and occupations in which success is less dependent upon risk taking. Women may well come to dominate those professions/occupations.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim curious as to what areas are less dependent on risk taking in your view

    Quick rough breakdown of whitecollar high pay careers

    Financial (high risk/aggressive)
    Law (see finance)
    Other Business (see finance)
    IT/Engineering/Defense (lower risk but sill giant gender gap)
    Government/Academia (your model might work here but upper level promotions are still based on aggressive behavior)
    Medical (see government)
    Non-Profit (see government also lower pay and already dominated by women in many cases)

    insert TIA-CREF joke for the last three :-p

    Feel free to add some other categories. I agree with your general premise that men are more risk taking/aggressive than women. I am struggling to find an occupation area (white and blue collar for that matter) where this type of behavior is not required for advancement.


  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim or whatever your name is. White women won’t rule. Us white men will bring them to their sorry knees. If we won’t then Islamic guys will. They don’t mess around.

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