Researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) identified the best approach to help children operate Augmented Reality (AR). According to

As a male in a predominantly female profession, what problems have you faced?

Jonathan Haidt wrote a book about the foundations to morality that we all share. He focused his work on attempting to explain how various people of different political ideologies fail to understand one another, but when I read his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, I saw a great deal of ideological difference that fit his framework when comparing my time with two different organizations that were polar opposites in regard to the ratio of men to women — The United States Marine Corps and Public Education.

With the Marines, we had a major focus on the Authority, Loyalty, and Sanctity ethics.

Specifically, authority didn’t mean what most civilians take it to mean. We didn’t march like drones or lemmings to our death and we wouldn’t shoot some random person who gave no justifiable military reason to engage. You give me a stupid order, I’m going to call you on it, and I’m even authorized to place you under arrest if the order is bad enough. But creating a system of trust upward and downward on the chain is important. It says that you have your rank because you have proven yourself. I place my faith in you to lead, and I will follow, because I know you have the experience and understanding I don’t. So when you do your job of leading and I do my job of following, we maximize success because the man with the experience is the one writing the plan.

Loyalty augmented this trait, in that being Marines was a cherished identity. We might get into fights, and want to stab one another in the nards, but there is a deep love for each other that lingers for years simply because we aren’t Air Force. All kidding aside, the comradery is a feeling powerful enough that people place themselves second to the needs of the group and others within the group. This is why we trust our leaders, generally, and why images such as this, where Marines ran into enemy sniper fire to save a wounded comrade — one even being shot himself, are possible.

The sanctity ethic is also one that matters more in the military than it did on the outside. Sanctity is the ethic that gives us the innate sense of wrongness about certain things, from seeing a dead body, to knowing that the holocaust was evil, to seeing someone’s religion mocked, and even why we hate rats and roaches, but love dogs. It also makes us stand up for our beliefs because we’re right and you’re wrong. Marines were dogmatic in their views. What is right is right and what wasn’t was stupid — including you. You’re stupid if you’re wrong. You don’t know the effective firing range of the M-16A2 service rifle, not only are you stupid, but you’re a bad person. You have a hole in your pants. Do you hate the Marines? You can’t do 20 pull-ups? I guess you just want your buddies to die then don’t you? It really does filter down into even an obsession with cleanliness and appearances.

That was a hyper man culture.

Later I became a teacher, which is hyper feminine with regards to the ratio of men and women, particularly in the lower grades. I can only comment on my personal experiences, which I hope are anecdotal, but they were very different for me if I am going to keep it in terms of the six foundations.

The first is care. It’s all about care. Everything stops if we don’t care enough. If people just care harder, the job will get done. I know that women will get angry at me for saying this, but it’s true. While all the women I worked with were very different, diverse, dynamic and none cried at the drop of a hat, when they created policy together, it always defaulted to some variant of focusing more on helping kids who have it harder, and that will make everything better. It should be obvious I disagreed with this ideal because when you put your feels aside, it honestly doesn’t work.

As an example, many teachers internalize care over any other ethic to the extreme detriment of their primary goal, to educate children. One example was a teacher (3rd grade) who let a student sleep in every class he had with her because his parents were horrible people and he normally stayed out all night, never being required to go to bed, and not even noticed if he didn’t come home. She tried to supplement his parenting at school. The end result was that years later when we came to me, he failed all his classes and was resentful that we held him to standards because his 3rd grade teacher was always “nice” to him. He has since failed every grade, is functioning still at an elementary level and deeply resentful of authority, and has already been arrested multiple times, due in no small part horrible parents, but also to that teacher who, frankly, abandoned her job as a teacher to try to be a mommy, teaching him that the world owes him special treatment. This is to say nothing of the other kids, who are likewise resentful that they have to meet high standards in spite of the kid who acts terribly getting special treatment. I agree this person had her heart in the right place, but her actions were detrimental to that child’s future success.

On the policy level we see this too, where decisions I would have never seen in the Marines are regularly made in Education. A concerningly disproportionate amount of education funds goes to the bottom 10% of students. We see almost no payoff for this diversion of funds, as the way that we teach them now, those kids never function at the level of their peers. This is juxtaposed to the fact that the top of the class is often viewed as able to take care of themselves, and receive almost no special attention. Funding for programs like Gifted and Talented are nowhere near the special education funds. I’m going to say why I think this is a misallocation on a societal level — dumb kids don’t build bridges. Suck it up. Yes, I said it. The major world changing individuals aren’t people who started at the bottom and rose to be the most brilliant people on earth. Sure you can always find an example of someone who was just misunderstood as youth and a few great teachers brought them out, but the vast majority of the millions of kids that fall into the special education spectrum never go on to do great things. It isn’t in keeping with reality to assume that many of them will. That’s the plot of a movie on Lifetime, not in keeping with reality. In reality, the kids who grow up to change the world are those the best education possible, so smart that they drop out of college to found major companies that their ideas just couldn’t wait for a degree. They were brilliant kids who had their talents focused and given direction to growth. Frankly, as much as we invest into the bottom group, we only see marginal improvements at best, while the potential of investing that time and energy into the high group is truly limitless.

This same mentality can be seen in state mandates, where schools are punished more for having kids who fail the state mandated tests then they are rewarded for having a high percentage of kids who receive Excellences. It is geared toward preventing failure rather than producing excellence. Frankly, as a realist, there are kids who arrived who have no hope. I’ve had mentally disabled kids born to drug addicted moms. I’ve had bastard children who were forced to move into their father’s home after their mother went to jail and the father’s wife hates the little girl for her husband’s infidelity. I’ve had kids whose parents were dealing drugs and their mothers were prostitutes, where the kids themselves were violent and with absolutely no capability to function in society. Don’t get me wrong, between my wife and I (both teachers) there are many parents I want to see shot in the face, but aside from ripping the kids out of those toxic homes (not that there is a better solution after that) there is no amount government intervention that can make these kids successful, certainly not within the spectrum of a public school for a town of no more than 3,000 people. But we try to anyway, and we rob funds from the kids who could have otherwise gone on to be doctors, politicians, scientists, engineers, and astronauts. Now, the best we can expect from the honor students of a graduating class are dental hygienists, managers, science-fiction enthusiasts, mechanics, and amateur telescope hobbiests. Because we care so much about the plight of the bottom 10%, we rob the upper 90% of their potential.

This sounds horrifically callous, but by my estimation, it is in keeping with the fairness and loyalty ethics, balanced with the ethic of care. I’ve never experienced an organization that abandons all other ethics to give itself a cathartic sensation of doing good, rather than seeking to achieve their actual mission, in this case of education all kids, besides one dominated by women. I believe that all the kids need attention, and that so much attention doesn’t need to be focused on the lower group who we know we will never see the fruits of that exercise, just because we feel bad for them.

This obsession with care also manifests with the obsession of being nice and understanding. I’m sorry, but there is a lot of bad science supporting the ideas that people want to believe about how kids want you to be their friends. They don’t. They don’t respect adults who want to be liked. They act out because they don’t feel like you care. Authoritative figures bring calm in a room, and in that calm, they build environments where respect is built and where kids learn. Classes where teachers try to go in being loved usually devolve into classes where the kids are defiant disturbances, the class is perpetually disturbed, and where the teacher usually ends up screaming, or worse begging, for obedience. I’ve never been confused for wanting to be a kid’s friend, but I’ve never had to scream at a child to hold their attention either. Yet, my methods were often considered too strict, when I regularly saw teachers, even senior teachers, lose control of their classrooms and descend into toxic environments where the kids weren’t learning or even as happy as mine. Frankly, this goes back to authority and loyalty. They respected me on my merit, which I had to prove (not that I should have had to), and they knew that I would do my job — so they did theirs.

Loyalty and authority is also something I found perplexing in a female dominated environment.

While I found the care ethic to be overwhelming and to the detriment of other elements of the educational process, I was disturbed by the utter absence of a respect for authority or loyalty. Teachers and students often didn’t respect the link above them, such as my principal. I’m going to be honest, I hate calling my boss by their first name. Whatever, I’m old fashioned, but I like the kids to see me call my boss “Ma’am”, and “Mrs. X”. In meetings, she acted professionally, but much more like a peer and was treated much like a peer, leading the entire school to an almost horizontal alignment. As you can imagine, we didn’t do well. And no, this wasn’t sexism, as most of the coworkers acting badly were women. Respect wasn’t expected and it wasn’t given. This filtered down not to just the teachers not caring about her instructions, but the children not respecting either her authority, or that of her teachers. This was both a lack of authority downward, which resulted in a lack of loyalty upward.

Of course, a different principal I knew was quite the opposite. She commanded, but she had absolutely no loyalty to her team. Teachers were shuffled around in ways that shattered their ability to teach, making them change their teaching standards halfway through the year, needing to abandon curriculum maps they’d worked on all Summer, or even years, and making teachers regularly skip grades, which effectively makes you a first year teacher again, a detrimental time sink to any teacher. Because of her poor decisions, teachers were effectively working 60 to 75 hours a week to meet expectations. Worst of all was “letting go” (firing) teachers on the worst possible reasons. We had one teacher who was a fine teacher. One year, however, the year she was fired she had a baby not realizing that a few months later, her father would suddenly died of a heart attack in front of her six year other child. The trauma in her family was overwhelming and, duh, it showed up in her job performance. A few months later, the principal came to my wife and asked, “You’re close to Mrs. A? She just seems different this year. Do you have any idea why?” My wife just looked at her shocked. (“Yes you twit, she just had a baby, and her dad suddenly died leaving her other daughter traumatized in the process. How in the world would she be okay?”) I’m all for firing bad teachers who show a pattern of failing to meet expectations, but the lack of grace and loyalty given to this woman was something that disturbed the community of teachers who worked under her. This has been a pattern where an unfortunate number of our teachers have lost their husbands, or suffered trauma or hardship that resulted in them getting fired. I told my wife, half jokingly, that I hoped I didn’t die, because the family couldn’t afford for her to lose her job too. I honestly hope that this is anecdotal, and that no part of it is reflective of women in the workplace, but this was the most female centric environment I’ve ever experienced, so it at least concerns me.

I honestly don’t know if this is something relating to women or not, but what I do get a deep feeling about is that in workspaces where women dominated, I did not feel that loyalty to each other or to the group was present. This was true in both the women and the men. It just wasn’t a part of the culture. Often, I felt that my female coworkers did more to harm one another and went to greater lengths to sabotage competitors to the detriment of the overall mission than my male coworkers did. To be sure, in the Marines I worked for some terrible guys, but they were always found out and usually punished severely specifically for harm done to the group. In my female dominated spheres, these people were often rewarded and harm to the group was rarely a factor in decision making at all.

Because I know that people are going to say this is answer is sexist, I have to address the generalizations. First of all, this answer isn’t saying anything in definite. It’s linking things I have personally observed in my work experience and linking that to a widely accepted moral framework. I can’t have experiences other than my own, so I welcome others’ experiences that are completely different and reach completely different conclusions as equally valid. I also don’t think men are better than women, and I also don’t think women are bad in the workplace. There are simply natural differences between men and women that express themselves when amplified by groups dominated by a single gender. Like with most things, I think that with both, more balance is required.

Likewise, I don’t think the Marine Corps does everything perfectly. I had some the most incompetent, dishonest, and disloyal male Marines, so there is nothing absolute about my above statements or examples. I even said once with all honesty that one Sergeant of mine would get all us all killed if he thought he could spin the story into getting himself a medal. He was eventually fired, but nothing about what I said was true for all Marines. My statements were that, in general, that hypermasculine culture acted in ways that followed the metrics of loyalty, authority, and sanctity, which were mostly unobserved or misunderstood in my female dominated environments, or even most civilian spheres where men and women more or less held a plurality. There is a lot they could do better and a bit of focus on the other moral foundations would probably help a long way in post deployment transition with family and society, as well as adapting to the other cultures that military engagement often demands. Likewise, the Marine Corps could give more attention to care. We live in an age where politicians demand far too much of warfighters — to be the soldier diplomat rather than just a warrior. A bit more training on the specific application of care, perhaps, would make forging alliances with the local people that surround them easier, making counter-insurgency something where the people of a nation viewed them truly as liberators and not as invaders. Hopefully that way they could join the fight rather than be the fight. The callousness we also show to our own who suffer the day to day struggles might also drive many qualified Marines out of the Corps, where a bit more compassion and a bit less “deal with it” machismo might go a long way in retention.

And where I have seen it women dominated organizations focus too heavily on the care metric and not enough on loyalty and authority, to say nothing of ignoring major organizational goals if they compete with the desire to “do good”. I feel that if Education in particular, would tone back the caring, they would realize they are ill equipped to provide every possible need to every possible child who has it hard, and that by balancing this ethic with others, they would focus more on all children meeting and exceeding expectations, rather than just focusing all efforts on ensuring that no one fails the big test.Education needs to be more realistic with its goals and organizationally more mission focused, rather than adapting the mission to something that makes them feel good — if only it would work. Education needs to respect one another and value the team as more than just a group of people all working together. Leaders need to lead rather than be the first among many, but they also need to understand that without loyalty you foster toxic environments where teachers fight desperately to flee to neighboring schools.

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