Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Misconceptions about equality


As a Swede, I have seen an enormous amount of misconceptions about equality between the sexes propagated through television, newspaper articles and editorials, my own school education, and political propaganda. The same problems, often with a focus on race instead of sex, are present in the U.S. Similar problems exist, if to a noticeably lesser degree, in e.g. Germany.

This page deals with some such occurrences (at the moment with a focus on Swedish equality between the sexes).


The original version of this page was written before my study of feminism, and based only on observations of, to be blunt, stupidity where equality is concerned. I was at the time not aware of the extreme degree of biological “equalness” that some feminists propose (“gender as a social construct”, etc.).

This does not make the errors of thought below less stupid, in light of this particular feminist idea being scientifically debunked (cf. e.g. an article on genetic disposition for transsexualisme; TODO, add a separate page to list a more extensive set of references on HBD issues); however, it does suggest a pattern of consistent thought, not just random human stupidity—which was the target I originally set out to attack.

In the light of this, and contrary to my original intention, this page will mostly be left alone: Examples worthy of inclusion are simply so ridiculously abundant that using this page as much more than a demonstration of principle would be futile. (To date, there has been one exception, the 2012 discussion of issues around Högskoleprovet—issues that were an unusual good source of examples and illustration.)

Meaning of “equality”

While “equality” can be legitimately used to imply “equalness”, the normal (political/non-mathematical) use is to imply “equality before the law”, “equal opportunities”, or similar. This article discusses uses of “equality” in the latter meanings, and it is usually clear from context that this reading is the intended in the sources.

As far as Swedish is concerned, two near-synonymous words are in common (but confusing and inconsistent) use to match the English “equal[ity]” :

  1. “jämställd[het]” (roughly, “evenly put”), which can only refer to the latter meanings.

  2. “jämlik[het]” (roughly, “alike in evenness”), which, going by literal meaning could conceivably be used in the former sense—however, this is contrary to the formal definitions that I have seen to date.


    I originally wrote “I cannot recall ever having seen this.” concerning use in the former sense. However, re-visiting this page years later, this seems like a partial self-contradiction. Maybe, I simply misunderstand an earlier version of myself; maybe, the convolutedness of use by various parties, and the resulting disproportionate effort to sort out various meanings and intents, made me sloppy. (The effort of writing is not always reflected in the word count.)

This distinction is important to bear in mind, because many discussions of equality (at least in Sweden) amount to pointing to differences in outcome and then raising hell because “equalness” has not been reached.


At the time of original writing, I was not yet aware of use of the English word “equity” (and its variations) in meanings partially overlapping with “jämlikhet” and “jämställdhet”. (Or has the use only become common in the interim?)

This creates a similar English division into “equality” and “equity”; however, the division is likely not identical. (Moreover, these uses of “equity” often seem highly dubious. When implying “equality of outcome”, the use is arguably outright antithetical to established meanings, as equality of outcome necessitates in-equality of opportunity.)

Lack of uniformity implies lack of equality

Uniformity of behavior

http://www.friidrott.se/nyheter.aspx?id=9580e (in Swedish) starts of with the claim “Jämlikheten allt närmre!”–“Equality ever closer!”, and goes on to substantiate this claim with statistics showing that the proportion of female participants in certain Swedish road-running events has increased rapidly—as have the sales of running shoes for women.

Here equality appears to be used in sense of “uniformity of behavior”—women have reached equality with men when they behave like men. I can only speculate that the author implicitly assumes that men and women are so inherently identical that deviations from “equality of behavior” are signs of inequality in the more typical sense—an extremely naive view. (But a view that is very common in Sweden.)

Because women have long been allowed to participate and, at least in Sweden in reasonably modern times, have only rarely had lesser opportunities than men, the statistics reflect changes in interests and habits—not equality.

Uniformity of treatment

http://svt.se/2.22620/1.1617124/svenska_skolan_inte_jamstalld?lid=puff_1617129&lpos=lasmere discusses a report from DEJA (Delegationen för jämställdhet i skolan/Delegation for equality in schools) to the Swedish minister of education, Jan Björklund. I additionally draw on a page from an online version of the SVT (Swedish Television) video-text on the same subject, which unfortunately is not archived.

The core statement in both:

A later claim is that the choices of high-school programs (which are highly varied in Sweden) are “very sex stereotypical” (“väldigt könsstereotypa”, article), respectively divided into typical girl’s and boy’s educations (video text). The video text adds that those pupils who make “untraditional” choices are more prone to drop out.

This is exactly what is to be expected: There are natural difference between the sexes, and their interests vary—end of discussion. That Swedish feminist propaganda keeps denying this fact, and does so without contradiction in main media, is outrageous. The very fact that the “untraditional” students drop out more, is in strong support of this, and not as implied (in my perception; this is not entirely clear-cut) a sign of worse treatment by others.


Beware that this is a statement about aggregates: No a priori statement can be made about any individual boy or girl. Further, the existence of a strong genetic component does not rule an environmental component out.

It is true that other factors could play in, e.g., that a girl/boy could be teased for considering joining a “male”/“female” program; however, this is highly unlikely to be the main explanation. Similarly, a contributing explanation to the higher drop-out rate might be that being in an environment with, say, four times as many members of the opposite sex as of the same sex can be far from ideal; however, this is not a sign of lacking equality, but just tough luck: A baseball player who lands in a town of basketball fanatics might simply have to join a basketball team—he has no right to complain of “discrimination” just because no-one wants to play his game. On the other hand, if he is given worse service in the super-market for being a baseball player, then he has a legitimate reason to complain.

Both articles are clear on the described situation being something bad that should be fought—without providing arguments ad rem, just rhetoric and preconceived opinions.


Not having read the report, I cannot say whether the discussed problems were present in the report (although I consider this likely) and merely too uncritically propagated by media, or whether the report was more factual and a later unscientific/feminist distortion has taken place. For the purposes of this discussion, this is irrelevant; however, care should be taken if and when blame is assigned.

The Swedish SATs


On 27.10.2012, a number of Swedish news sources discussed the results of “Högskoleprovet” (the Swedish counter-part to the U.S. SATs).

A number of interesting claims were made with regard to men, women, and the restructuring of the test that had taken place.

(The below claims were gathered from a number of articles that I read that day. Not all of them were present in all sources. The leading items, however, were uniformly present. Notably, some variation of “Högskoleprovet favors men” was the typical headline.)


  1. Obviously, issues like the relative scores of men and women must not be considerations when making tests like these: They should be written with one purpose and one purpose only in mind—selecting the candidates who are the most worthy. (Exactly what is to be understood under “worthy” will vary from case to case and there might be legitimate differences of opinion. The sex of candidates, however, is entirely irrelevant and should not be given weight when constructing the test.)

    This, alone and without other considerations, justifies a condemnation of “absurd”. However, this area is off-topic and I will not address it below.

  2. While I leave the issue of underlying motivation aside, it is noteworthy that the below absurdities would be well explained by belief in the long debunked “tabula rasa” view of the human mind, e.g. in that any true difference between groups or individuals is denied with thinking like “gender is just a social construct” or “if someone is better at math than someone else, it is caused exclusively by social injustice in math education”.

  3. I took a much older version of the test myself in (probably) 1993, scoring the maximum 2.0 on the normalized scale of 0.0–2.0. My raw score contained 6 errors, with the limit for 2.0 being a full 12 errors. To my recollection, all six errors came on knowledge questions, leaving me with a perfect score on math and reading comprehension. (If I misremember, the difference is minimal.)

Factual claims

  1. Men (on average; this qualifier applies everywhere below, even when not explicitly stated) have consistently scored higher than women on the test, throughout its history. (Despite repeated attempts to make the test more “equal” through alterations intended to favor women.)

  2. The recent overhaul had increased the “Math” part and decreased the “Verbal” part. (In a rough translation into SAT-terms. The details are a bit different, as the Swedish test has more individual parts than the SATs, belonging to two rough groups.) This with the intention of giving a leg up to ... women.


    A similar claim was made in media before the restructuring, but in the future tense. I remember being so surprised that I originally assumed that I had misread the claim—how was adding more math going to favor women?!?

    (I found the actual results very gratifying in a Schadenfreude manner.)

  3. The number of questions was increased from 122 to 160.

  4. The difference in group average between men and women increased from 6.1 to 9.4.



  5. These differences remain even when looking at particular groups that have been selected for e.g. equal level of education.

Interpretations and other claims of a naive character

  1. The new test would favor (with an implication of unfairness) men over women resp. do so even more than the old test.

  2. This is odd! We expected it to be the other way around!

    Because women have better math grades, the changes should have been favorable for them.



  3. We know that there is some systematic social difference that favors men, but Högskoleverket (the government institution responsible for higher education in general and the test in particular) has no clue what it could be.

My commentary

  1. The change in the difference is considerably smaller than the articles claim—so small that the overall claim appears sensationalist. Further, it is a proof that the involved parties would themselves have problems scoring highly on the math part:

    6.1 out of 122 (the original difference respectively maximum score) is 5 % exactly. 9.4 out of 160 is 5.875 %. In other words, the proportional difference, which is the relevant measure, has increased by 17.5 % and 0.875 (!) percentage points. (The 0.875 is the more telling, as the 17.5 depends inversely on the size of the old gap—the smaller the original difference, the larger the percentage change, and vice versa.)

    While this might well be a statistically significant change, and one that could have consequences when looking at the groups as a whole, it is nowhere near the > 50 % increase that the naive reporters implicitly propose—and very many naive readers would take at face value. (Notably and absurdly, not even one of the articles that I encountered bothered to look at this relative change...)

  2. That women would be favored by increasing the math part is absurd. It is well-known that men are better at math and related tasks, whereas women do relatively better on e.g. word tasks. An increase in difference was exactly what was to be expected—and exactly what happened.

    Indeed, if anything, it is surprising that the change in difference was not greater... (At least one of the articles claimed that the character of the math tasks had been altered too, also to increase the scores for women. Due to lack of details, I cannot analyse this claim; however, if it involved some degree of dumbing down or a switch to test more “root learnable” math, it would explain why the change was so small.)

    Notably, the whole “girls have better math grades” is entirely misleading as a basis for the change. It is well-established by now (outside the sphere of politically correct and unscientific biology denialism) that the Swedish schools and school system is biased to the advantage of girls, giving them higher grades for the same ability, more encouragement to study, and providing a more “female-friendly” school (e.g. through female teachers dominating and rewarding industriousness instead of accomplishment). Indeed, when standardized nationwide subject exams are held, without the subjectivity of the teacher playing in and where ability, not effort, is tested, boys do better than girls—despite trailing in grades.) Further, before the considerable dumbing-down that has taken place over the last few decades, the math grades were very solidly in favor of boys—and the math classes of old had a higher “g loading”, making them better predictors for other “g loaded” tests.

    A better conclusion would be that grading should be changed, not Högskoleprovet, as school grades (as used in e.g. Sweden) have so many problems and so much subjectivity that they are a less reliable tool than standardized tests. Tests are not perfect, but they are better.

    (When comparing specifically with Högskoleprovet, we also have to remember that it is intended more as a test of academic/intellectual potential than as a test of “What has the prospective student learnt in school?”, and it is far from a given that the brighter student would have the better grades, even were grades less subjective. Consider e.g. the risk of a bright student growing bored and unmotivated through being under-challenged by one-size-fits-all, and increasingly dumbed down, schooling.)

  3. Even if men and women had identical suitability for higher studies, it is not a given that their test scores would be identical. At a minimum, selection effects have to be considered, e.g. in that that intelligent men/boys are underestimated in school grades and have a greater need to take Högskoleprovet in order to be admitted to the college/uni programs that interest them/are good matches for them. As soon as the sub-populations of test takers deviate from the overall populations in profile, statements about the sub-populations (which the Högskoleprovet statistics are) do not necessarily apply to the overall populations.

  4. If anything, these results are a further proof of a systematic biological difference between men and women, men on average tending to be better at thinking—a difference that is reflected e.g. by IQ-tests, Högskoleprovet and the repeated failures of the attempts to make it “less favorable” to men, actual life accomplishments, etc. (I use quotes around “less favorable” for the simple reason that even if the attempts have failed to eradicate the difference, they are likely to have artificially biased the test to give women an unfair advantage.)

    That Högskoleverket has no idea what the social difference is, well, that has a very simple explanation: There is no social difference favoring men (but there might be one favoring women in other similar contexts). The average results are rooted in a biological difference—and looking for a social difference is just as futile and unproductive as trying to explain a harsh winter with the displeasure of the gods. The fact that proponents still “know” that there is a social difference is a strong sign of how ideologically driven and unscientific the efforts are—and the prolonged failure to find this difference is, it self, an indication of biological differences. (Which, of course, means that they can never give up, because giving up would virtually necessitate a different political take—and one not compatible with Leftist ideology.)