If you are one of the exclusive few that hasn’t watched or read the story of Harry Potter, this article may be harder to follow. However, the brief explanation below should explain the individual elements which are necessary to understand this piece, and should make things clearer.
Within the Harry Potter world, there is the school Hogwarts. Famed for its academic credibility in the teaching of witchcraft and wizardry. Within this school, the students are divided into four “Houses”, each with their own set of distinct differences and characteristics. These houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin; each named after famous wizards and witches from the Harry Potter universe. The House Gryffindor was famed for bravery, courage, and strength. Hufflepuff for hard work, perseverance and loyalty. Ravenclaw on intelligence, mental ability, and wisdom. Slytherin for cunning, for power, and nobility.
Students, when first attending the school, are sorted into these different houses by a magical talking hat; the Sorting Hat. And in these Houses they remain for the duration of their lives. Each of these Houses has different attributes, and each attribute has different benefits and drawbacks. Certain Houses are famed for certain characteristics and prospects are widely determined based on the Houses students are in.
In a rather informal, but conclusive, manner, a twitter poll was run asking four distinct questions. The first two being very much so linked. When the twitter sphere was asked “Out of the Harry Potter Houses, a member of which house do you think would be the most successful in the workplace?”, the highest voted House, with a total of 48% of the vote was Ravenclaw, followed by Slytherin on 27%. In last place came Hufflepuff, on 11% of the vote. Thus, people deem the House of Hufflepuff to be the least likely to accrue success.
Furthermore, when asked the question “A member of which house would be the least successful?”, a similar story unfolded. A grand total of zero votes, 0%, of all respondents voted that Ravenclaw would be the least successful. Echoing the results from prior poll. 53% of people voted that Hufflepuff would be the least successful, with Gryffindor on 21% and Slytherin on 26%.
From the books, people therefore thought that the House of Hufflepuff would be less likely to achieve well in the real world. Any logical or rational person can see why though. The people in the House of Hufflepuff possess different traits; perhaps less desirable traits. Perseverance and loyalty, although admirable and beneficial, does not a person who excels make. When compared to traits such as cunning, or bravery, or intelligence, the ability to continue plodding along at a certain task with perseverance seems logical that these characteristics are less desirable in environments that specifically require high levels of competency. Additionally, traits such as loyalty and friendliness correlate to a psychological trait known as agreeableness. People with high levels of agreeableness are shown in the workplace to be less successful, and to earn less than their counterparts. Assuming these assumptions are accurate, and that traits that are possessed by the members of the House Hufflepuff, it would be logical to realise that the theoretical success of House members is determined by specific psychology attributes and traits.
The black and white argument, which would surely be illogical, is to assume that someone who is part of Hufflepuff, is less successful because they are in Hufflepuff. That their success is predicated not by their individual and independent attributes, but by some collective notion that specific House membership determines the course for the individual. This view is dangerous. It assumes that because someone is a part of some group, they are therefore necessarily less capable, rather than allowing all individuals to be treated based on their own merits and own abilities.
The general theme so far of this piece may seem absurd. For what reason does Harry Potter and their systems of Houses fit at all into the real world? In general, this analogy can be used to describe the problems of gender, of the gender pay gap, and of disparities of genders in certain career pathways. Empirically, factually, and scientifically, men and women possess different psychology attributes. We have labelled them is society as “masculine” or “feminine” based on which gender is more or less likely to have these features, although this notion should be rejected. It is equally possible, although less likely, for a woman to possess the same psychological traits as men. Whether it is openness and lateral thinking, industriousness, agreeableness, neuroticism or some other mental trait. Each psychological characteristic exists not in black and white, but on a scale, you can be more or less neurotic than others, for example, and in terms of research, different levels of different personality characteristics correlates to success in the workplace.
The danger we have as society is assuming that because someone is a women they are less capable than a man. Whilst women on the whole tend to possess traits that deem them less attractive in areas of high stress and competency, this does not mean for one second that a women may not be capable of the job at hand. Women in high competency or high stress jobs will often have lower levels of agreeableness, higher levels of industriousness, than fellow counterparts. But similarly, men in high competency positions and high stress positions will equally have higher levels of the traits which empirically show higher aptitudes. The conflation that characteristics are purely male vs. female, or masculine vs. feminine is wrong. It is equally plausible for both men and women to have the same traits, and thus the levels of success in these individuals will roughly correlate. Men and women who have equal traits will be in equal positions and likely have equal pay (within a margin). In a pluralistic society, in a free, equal society, people who are equal will achieve equal degrees of success.
If we want to ensure that women are more successful, traits such as industriousness must be encouraged, and agreeableness discouraged. However the argument comes down to how much these traits are determined by genetics. Much like with IQ, training and environmental factors will likely be able to increase or decrease IQ by say up to 10 or 20 points either side. However someone who genetically is predisposed to an IQ of 100 will never reach parity with someone who is predisposed to an IQ of 140, and just as education, training, and psychotherapy can allow women to reach their full potential, this may never, due to biological reasons, allow them to exceed that of “males”, as an aggregate of the collective group.
The blame for this, by many, has been placed on the nature of the capitalistic society. This cut throat, competitive, dog-eat-dog system. But to argue “what if the system was different?” or “what if this was not the case?” is illogical in any real scope of questioning. It is not about what the world could be in an abject utopia, but about where the world is, what we want it to be, and how we enable it to get there. Trying to use the powers of the state to mandate equality of outcome, when it is physically impossible for that to ever be the case, only acts to the detriment of society. The liberal movement, for it to be truly accepting and competent, needs to look at science, it needs to look at empirical data and results, and use this information to mold the world into the shape it can be within the scope of reality.
Just as saying that someone is worse off because they were put into the House of Hufflepuff is sorely illogical, saying that someone is less capable is predicated from the fact they are a woman is false. They are less capable due to the psychological traits they are more likely to possess, and these are universally variable across the species.
In fact, different physical traits are correlated to differing mental traits. For example, someone who is tall, is more likely to have a higher IQ. This is due to the way that our genome is coded. Our genome exists of around ten million of what are called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs for short. Thousands of these SNPs correlate to different physical traits, and there is assumed to be an overlap between the formation of these SNPs. The Manhattan Plot is a way of measuring hundreds of thousands of SNPs, and with the data we have today there is a clear correlation between the possession of different SNP groupings and different traits. Therefore it is entirely possible to assume that the genome of different people will indicate success in the work place, and thus the differences between the genetic structure of men and women will determine to what degree success is reached.
To conclude, a piece of food for thought: it has been shown that the number of differences between the sexes, including psychological differences and differences in terms of jobs and wages, are far larger in countries which are more gender egalitarian. There is no sociological factor that is forcing men and women to be different. In nations where people are more free to follow which paths they choose, men and women are more likely to tend towards different pathways. The actions by the modern feminist or egalitarian movements actually seek to reduce the freedoms of women by forcing them to go into positions or careers they otherwise would not seek to choose. This is a disgrace, this is illiberal, and it will only seek to hurt individual members of society.