Almost everyone is aware of the statistics-based morality on race and ethnicity: if any admired group does not contain the correct proportion of African-Americans and Hispanics, bias can reasonably be inferred.
The same bag of statistical assertions which animated much appropriate (and some inappropriate) legal and social change has, of course, migrated over to discussions of sex. The problem here is that there are no real interesting biosocial differences between the races but there are major discernible and definable differences between the sexes. So we have incubated a new, prosperous and irritated industry of people scouring the community looking for any departure from the 51% number of females in the population to the workplace of, say, CEOs, professional hockey players, or lumberjacks.
Everyone from the President on down recites the mantra that women earn only 77 cents to the male dollar. However, a Dept of Labor report in 2010 concluded unambiguously that the principal reason for economic difference was personal choice - perhaps not a free choice but one made by persons in the economy. One huge example: some 85% of women have children and the average mother tends to leave the labor force for 5-8 years and is much more likely than a male to work part-time. Both lead to reduced income. Add that males take the higher-paying jobs such as commercial fishing, which are dangerous and lead to much higher fatality and injury rates, and we begin to derive a picture different from the conventional statistician's view that if there's a discrepancy it must be imposed not chosen.
Now the statistical moralists have a problem they are eager not to see: the perception that males are not doing well in the system of education. Allie Grasgreen in Inside Higher Education reviews a book published by the Russell Sage Foundation, certifying that women outpace men in college action in a ratio of 1.4 to 1. Grasgreen delineates the conclusion of the authors (Thomas diPrete and Claudia Buchmann) that there is inadequate gender integration in higher ed and that males are unrealistic about what they need do to become effective men. But there is also a cultural problem here: the now conventional anti-male attitude on campus. I know from my own teaching experience that the pervasiveness of this attitude, launched on the first day of class with a stark rape seminar, causes males, especially of blue-collar origin, to flee a community they quickly come to see as suffused with the gender-studies rebuke of men now built into college life.
Lionel Tiger is Darwin professor of anthropology emeritus at Rutgers University and author of The Decline of Males and The Pursuit of Pleasure.