However, although an individual's accomplishments are usually a result of their unique and overall capabilities, when it comes to grouping them together as statistics, I see things differently. While it is true that a person's gender is only part of their makeup, it is still a very important part of their core being that can restrict or enhance their capabilities and interests. Science, psychology, common sense and experience all point to inherent and common differences between the genders that cannot be ignored, no matter what the feminists and liberals say. These differences obviously must come with pros and cons.
A person's individuality can show itself in two ways: The relative combination of external factors that include gender, environment, upbringing, education, intellect, etc., and the active, internal work done by this individual on him/herself to rise above such restrictions, as well as the ability to use these given tools to their fullest advantage, complementing them with other people's skills as necessary.
So both approaches contain truth. Personalities should be admired as individuals, but statistics and studies that show a pattern, where, for example, there are ten representatives of gender A in a specific area of expertise for every one of gender B, cannot be ignored. The trouble lies in the conclusions people make based on these statistics:
1. Just because we find one or even several areas dominated by one gender, that doesn't make this gender superior. This is childish. What it means is that each gender has its advantages and disadvantages and that, at best, this gender is generally stronger in this field, or, at worst, that there is a bias involved.
2. If the numbers show an advantage of one gender in most areas, then perhaps not enough types of accomplishments or careers are being awarded. Perhaps male-oriented accomplishments are disproportionately respected and admired to the detriment of female-dominated interests. Case in point, why isn't there a Nobel prize for teaching? How often is an office manager praised for enabling success? And why are feminists de-valuing traditional female roles and worshipping typical male choices regardless of what women really want?
Note that I am not saying that women should stick to traditionally female-oriented careers or life-styles. But feminists claim that the genders are equal and that given the opportunity, women can perform just as well as men in every area. I agree about performance when it comes to individuals, but as a group, this is a fallacy.
Case in point: Nowadays, more women than men are in college; The gates have been opened in most areas yet women still show a definite pattern in their academic and career choices. For example, while women have recently grown to dominate areas such as sales and marketing, they have barely made a dent in the computer engineering industry figures. The feminist claim that this is due to oppression and bias just doesn't cut it anymore.
3. Individuals must be judged individually, but as I discussed earlier, there can be strong justification to favor one gender over another for certain tasks in the sense that if an HR person has similarly qualified CVs in front of her, she should be allowed to decide who to interview based on gender. The problem arises when a manager is simply biased and hasn't thought things through, or has an obviously talented individual in front of her and still misjudges them based on their gender. But this should be between her and her experience, knowledge and conscience (and boss), and not up to the government.
4. There may be other reasons for the lack of gender representatives in certain fields. As mentioned earlier, the accusation of repression is not always valid, but what about a lack of interest or an incompatible psychological makeup? This can mean that the capability is there but the interest isn't, or it can mean something more provocative: That the individual isn't interested enough in this subject to develop her potential skills, simply because of her gender (and obviously a lack of passion is another valid rationale for not hiring an individual).
Statistics about gender-related career and academic patterns are valid arguments that justify gender inequality. It's just a matter of taking the figures with a grain of salt and handling them maturely and rationally, as with any statistical study.
One final comment: When feminists use Marie Curie as an example of female accomplishment, I too roll my eyes, but only because I interpret this as an exception that proves the rule. What rule this proves is the real question and I will discuss actual gender differences elsewhere.