March 12, 2014

"Clubhouse chemistry is important," said Nate Silver, displaying a chart that shows that only 6 of the 19 members of his editorial staff are female.

Emily Bell at The Guardian says:
It is as if Arianna Huffington never happened. Or as if diversity of leadership and ownership did not really matter, as long as the data-driven, responsively designed new news becomes a radical and successful enough departure from the drab anecdote laden guff put out by those other men....

A clubhouse. Do we really still have to have one of those? And does the importance of clubhouse chemistry really override the need for a more thorough look at the statistical make-up of its membership?
Nate Silver, ironically, is the big statistician. I'd use these numbers against them if they use numbers like this against anybody else. But I'd say a startup should be tight and efficient, not padded with extra people who are there for appearance's sake. They've got 6 females in the clubhouse. I don't see a reason to charge discrimination. Now, give us some great journalism.

53 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

Diversity of leadership and management is of absolutely no importance.

More often than not, it's a negative.

Time to go back to freedom of association and tell the social engineers to go suck it.

Why is everybody trying to manage other people's business? Don't they have enough to do managing their own?

The Crack Emcee said...

"It is as if Arianna Huffington never happened."

Or more like she did,...

Bobby said...

In this case, given Nate Silver's origins as a sabermetrician, "clubhouse" should probably be interpreted to refer to a baseball clubhouse, which is where the players and coaches interact and prepare for the game on the field. Discussions about "clubhouse chemistry"-- that is, how the players get along with each other and with the coaching staff and its perceived impact on on-field performance-- has been debated and discussed for decades by Society for American Baseball Research members. Anyone with a slight amount of baseball background would immediately get the reference, and Nate Silver's political writings are frequently replete with baseball references so this should be seen as no exception.

But if Emily Bell writes for The Guardian, maybe she's British and doesn't know a whole lot about baseball or its associated terms?

--Bobby

madAsHell said...

"Yes, I did agree to having a tokin' woman on the staff."
.
.
.
"What do you mean "the other definition of tokin' "? "

KLDAVIS said...

"But I'd say a startup should be tight and efficient, not padded with extra people who are there for appearance's sake."

Who can afford such decadence? And, who should decide?

Henry said...

I'm really curious where the quote for the blog post title came from. Perhaps the Guardian has already edited it away.

Anyway, for the record, here are the quotes I can actually find.

At the Guardian:

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight re-launches Monday with six women out of 19 people on his edit staff, which he judged on a set of axes. (photo caption)

and

“Clubhouse chemistry is important,” Silver said when he talked to Time.com last week about his own rigorous hires, which he posts gleefully on his dummy site. (article)

And at Time:

The x-axis runs from “quantitative” to “qualitative,” the y-axis (top to bottom) from “rigorous and empirical” to “anecdotal and ad hoc.” All FiveThirtyEight employees, he says, need to land in the upper-left quadrant of the coordinate plane, where they are quantitatively inclined, rigorous and empirical.

Let's let Silver finish his thought, and then reflect what it says about op-ed writer Emily Bell:

The bottom two quadrants belong to the dregs of American journalism: on the left, sportswriters who cherry-pick statistics without thinking through them, and on the right, op-ed columnists. “That’s the crap quadrant. Two-thirds of the op-ed columnists at America’s major newspapers are worthless,” Silver says.

Whew, that was close. He only said America's major newspapers. Ms. Bell gets a reprieve.

The Drill SGT said...

All entities must be at least 60% female, lest they be biased, bigoted chauvinistic patrimonial places.

as if Arianna Huffington never happened...

Michael said...

If you are trying to build a business you do not do so with any objective other than attracting talent that you can leverage to create profits. Any other consideration is a distraction. If you find the talent in a diverse group of people who can work together and create something then that's great. Otherwise you are wasting your time.

David said...

You know what would be a revolution in journalism?

Having some idea what they are talking about.

We're waiting.

Sorun said...

"But I'd say a startup should be tight and efficient, not padded with extra people who are there for appearance's sake."

They only need one black and one woman whose photos can be put on publications, so I think they overdid it with 6 women.

Google once celebrated Mother's Day with photos of employees' moms. Oops! - no black moms.

Shouting Thomas said...

I left the corporate legal biz just about the time Diversity became a mania.

And, plowed into the dotcom biz, which was 100% male. A startup cannot survive as a babysiting, grievance mongering, gossip factory for the tender sensibilities of women, which is what the corporate legal biz became.

The freedom of the dotcom era was great while it lasted. Nothing mattered except competence, working hard and production.

That lasted for about a decade before the web biz began to solidify into stable corporations, after which the Diversity ladies moved in to demand babysiting.

Whenever the ladies get hold of a biz, it's time for men to move on.

David said...

Emily Bell is director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.

She previously worked for the Observer and then the Guardian for 20 years, setting up MediaGuardian.co.uk in 2000 and becoming editor-in-chief of Guardian Unlimited in 2001.

In September 2006, Emily was promoted to the new position of director of digital content for Guardian News and Media.

guardian.co.uk, the Guardian and Observer's network of websites, has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Webby for Best Newspaper on the worldwide web in 2005, 2006 and 2007.


She did so well and won so many awards that she no longer works there.

Zach said...

Surprise, surprise. Bell is complaining about the male to female ratio at a stat-based startup, but she herself works for a well established business in a job that requires no math.

You know why tech startups are male dominated? Because there are lots and lots of women like Bell.

Shouting Thomas said...

The nose dive you are now witnessing in the corporate legal biz can be partly explained by the successful demand by women for all sorts of perks and butt kissing that have nothing to do with being a productive lawyer.

Back when I first worked in corporate law, way back in the mid-70s, my clients were all small firms in the initial stages of building a partnership and biz. All male. Often, all Jewish and male.

Lean and mean, and focused completely on competence and production.

Allowing the women in changed all that. Women show up after a biz becomes fat and profitable. Then, they want to demand the fat as their right.

Henry said...

The key question, of course, is compared to what?.

Oh look, there's the Guardian. 72% male.

mccullough said...

A bunch of white quants.

If Silver's stats-method for sports is any good, he'd make a killing in Vegas. But he's doing this venture for ESPN. It's all fun. If he were confident in his methods, he'd be betting his own money.

CWJ said...

Did Emily Bell apply for a job and get turned down? Did anyone who was turned down for a job complain to Ms. Bell? Is there any evidence that the gender ratio of the pool of candidates varied from the 2 to 1 male/female staff ratio?

As far as I can tell from the article she wrote, the answer to these three questions is no, no, and no. So sorry to say, but STFU.

chuck said...

It is as if Arianna Huffington never happened.

Marry rich and exploit volunteer labor. Smart women know how to make use of *all* their assets.

The Counterfactualist said...

Based on her argument, I wouldn't claim that Ms. Bell is radically insane. She is more or less expressing skepticism that these revolutionary journalism start-ups are actually playing 'Moneyball'.

One could be rightly skeptical that you had created a 'Moneyball' baseball team if you hired nothing but overpriced athletes from big teams that went free agent, rather than finding hidden gems in the minor leagues and undervalued players from losing teams.

Only here she is implying that journalists can be undervalued because of their gender and/or race. To believe her skepticism may be justified, one need only accept that employment discrimination is real and actually happens in the world of journalism.

I am not a journalist, but that does not sound insanely radical to me. Most people drive carefully and loath automobile accidents, but hit-and-runs are real and actually happen in many cities.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm really curious where the quote for the blog post title came from. Perhaps the Guardian has already edited it away."

It's in the middle of the article.

John Christopher said...

I like that she built much of her argument based on her not understanding a baseball term.

Big Mike said...

No girls allowed

dreams said...

I want to know which team he thinks is going to win the NCAA tournament, he got it right last year.

Joe said...

It appears that 100% of her husbands are white males. I presume, though may be wrong, that all her children are white. Talk about lack of diversity!

dreams said...

Last year he had Louisville with the best percentage chance (23%) to win the NCAA tournament. That doesn't seem like a for sure way to bet and make money but I guess it would improve the odds.

jr565 said...

Unless you are implementing strict quotas you shoudln't expect any sort of parity between the sexes.

PB Reader said...

diversity trumps qualifications in everything except results.

RecChief said...

Nate Silver being a sports guy, I'm pretty sure that "clubhouse" is a baseball reference.

EMD said...

It is as if Arianna Huffington never happened.

It is as if self-selection bias never happens.

RecChief said...

so left liberals feel it's their place to proscribe the makeup of Silver's staff, and that it is more important for the staff to mirror the demographics of the population at large. Why doesn't this surprise me? welcome to the new world, according to the left.

EMD said...

Good clubhouse chemistry.

Henry said...

It's in the middle of the article.

It's gone now.

There are only two quotes that are close -- the caption to the photo and this, from the middle of the article:

“Clubhouse chemistry is important,” Silver said when he talked to Time.com last week about his own rigorous hires, which he posts gleefully on his dummy site. Last count: six women on the 19-person editorial staff.

There's a high degree of mendacity in implying that Silver's generic statement about his hiring process is his own reflection on the gender of his hires. I suspect an editor at the Guardian caught that a little late.

What did Silver actually say in the Times article that Bell sifts for nuggets of poison?

“Companies in general ought to spend more time on their hiring — it’s not the kind of thing that should be left to HR reps,” Silver says. “You know, clubhouse chemistry matters.”

Phil 3:14 said...

I'd like Crack to weigh in on the racism angle.

Unknown said...

Good clubhouse chemistry is overrated:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0waDmNxikPU

Yankees won the World Series that year.

Drago said...

EMD: "It is as if self-selection bias never happens."

Precisely.

As someone who knows a little something about this effort at Vox I can assure you that the talent pool for what they are actually trying to do is very small.

Very small.

Drago said...

On the technical side.

EMD said...

Hell, I'm impressed he's got six chicks out of 19 there. I mean, this heavy-duty nerd stuff they're churning out.

The head writer of the blog at the future fivethirtyeight is a woman.

Henry said...

Good clubhouse chemistry is overrated

True. Silver was lazy with his words there.

Now if he was a hockey fan he would have said "dressing room" instead of "clubhouse."

Jupiter said...

First, women demand to be included in what men do, because it looks like fun. But once you include them, a few of them say that it's no fun, because the men are sexist and play too rough, so we need a bunch of rules against the way men behave. But aside from not behaving like a man, just go on with what you were doing. Then they wonder why men don't want them around.

And please note that I said "a few". I have worked with lots of women who were great coworkers. But I have also put up with shit that I would never have taken from any (unarmed) man, simply because any conflict with a woman is always the man's fault. And I expect they wonder why I don't answer their e-mails. He's always so pleasant in person!

Gabriel said...

6 / 19 is about 32%. If he chose men and women at random, he'd have had about a 92% probability of getting more than that.

Either he himself is biased toward men, or the qualifications he is looking for have a disparate impact, which is of course discrimination to a court.

The Crack Emcee said...

Phil 3:14 said...
I'd like Crack to weigh in on the racism angle.

Your wish is my command:

A New Black Web Series On Diversity: Tales from the Kraka Tower

BTW - Is any of those 19 people in the "Clubhouse" black?

The Crack Emcee said...

Pardon:

ARE any of those 19 people in the "Clubhouse" black?

Alex said...

Crack - was "Good Times" racist because the cast was all-black and had a character that was constantly ragging on the entire white race?

The Crack Emcee said...

Alex said...
Crack - was "Good Times" racist because the cast was all-black and had a character that was constantly ragging on the entire white race?

Nope - you guys never will consider history BEFORE YOU SPEAK on your own, will you?

Iapetus said...

ST @5:49 said : "Whenever the ladies get hold of a biz, it's time for men to move on"

You've said something equivalent to that on several other discussion threads before, but I think you've got it backwards. In my experience, when a field has peaked and the men have decided it's time to move on to new experiences, that's when the women decide to show up. They think it's "safer" to move into a field that's already established and (on the surface at least) looks like it's thriving.

Leit Bart said...

Seinfeld, anyone? Remember that ghastly fink of a fellow who cares only whether you're funny, and gives not one whisker of a wink whether you're purple or pangender?

Or consider Malcolm Gladwell, who refuses to interview his research assistants because, he argues, it would only introduce invalid biases (like attractiveness, engagement, and affinity). To avoid all of that irrelevance and possible fun -- "Who goes to the movies with their research assistant?" he queried, seriously, in his characteristically egalitarian, pro-equality tone -- he leaves those grossly imputed-with-bias-error interviews to his current assistants (presumably immune and living on an even higher plane than Malcolm). I'd link it (here's the general link) but his remarks on hiring are only in the "60 Minutes after" story or whatever it is called by the highbrows these days.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/malcolm-gladwell-the-power-of-the-underdog/

In any event, the notion that a group needs chemistry to survive and flourish is hardly assailable. But to argue that such a group requires complete diversity at the expense of its success is utter hooey.

These discussions about, and insistence upon diversity at any cost have become exhausting. They are heartening only in the sense that the leftists have become their own targets. Boomerang, schaudenfreude -- call it what you will. But when the sauce prescribed for the proletariat geese is so obviously loathsome to the commandant ganders, one can't help but feel a wee bit of satisfaction.

fizzymagic said...

The Counterfactualist said...

Only here she is implying that journalists can be undervalued because of their gender and/or race.

You don't have a degree in anything vaguely technical, do you? I am trying very hard to imagine how anybody with basic analytical skills could come to that conclusion from her article.

In short: no, she is stating directly (not implying) that journalists are discriminated against primarily because of gender and/or race.

Phil 3:14 said...

I'm going to rename Crack Siri.

Henry said...

BTW, the comments at the link are almost universally skeptical. At the Guardian!

EMD said...

I sense a disparate amount of Jews in that clubhouse.

What do I win?

Anglelyne said...

Henry quotes: "That’s the crap quadrant. Two-thirds of the op-ed columnists at America’s major newspapers are worthless,” Silver says.

Ha. Crap-quadrant journalist. Great descriptor.

Hey Bell, could you perhaps explain to us why there is a "need for a more thorough look at the statistical make-up of its membership"? Could you make a persuasive argument that "diversity of leadership and ownership" really is important, instead of just trotting them out as unquestioned and unquestionable holy writ?

No, of course not. Because that would require you to be "rigorous and empirical" and maybe even to get quantitative, and you're a crap-quadrant journalist.

(Jeez, you, a grown woman, are still whimpering about "the bruising nature of internet discourse", and in the same breath wondering why venture capital isn't flowing toward people like you?)

The Counterfactualist said...

In short: no, she is stating directly (not implying) that journalists are discriminated against primarily because of gender and/or race.

Please point to the quote in the article where Emily Bell 'states directly' that "journalists are discriminated against primarily because of their gender and/or race."

wholelottasplainin' said...

"But I'd say a startup should be tight and efficient, not padded with extra people who are there for appearance's sake."

They only need one black and one woman whose photos can be put on publications, so I think they overdid it with 6 women.

****

Even better if they had the black stripped to the waste, so they could use the same pic w/o having to reflect current fashions.

(harder to do with a woman, though)