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Wednesday, 02 October 2013 15:35

Why Girls and Science Don’t Mix

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The Equality Police are unhappy. It seems that despite their best efforts women still aren’t entering the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as men are. You may not care about this — but you should. Because when the Equality Police become unhappy, we get bad policy such as the leftist desire to apply Title IX dictates to STEM, which would effectively eliminate opportunities for men in those fields.

Bringing this to mind is a recent study from The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education. You can imagine its conclusions. Women aren’t rejecting STEM because they lack math and science skills, but because of “cultural expectations,” “gender stereotypes” and “social structures.” My, I guess we must completely upend society because our cultural-social-gender-expectation-structure thingamajig is thoroughly discombobulated.

The reality, though, is that we have largely upended tradition. And the result? Well, question: Do you think women are more likely to enter STEM fields in equality-obsessed nations such as Norway or “less egalitarian” places such as India? Note here that Norway is so shackled by feminism it actually has laws stating that women must comprise at least 40 percent of public committees and corporate boards. But the answer?


This phenomenon was explored in an interesting Norwegian documentary entitled The Gender Equality Paradox (GEP). It’s interesting not so much because it bears out the age-old understanding that the sexes are different womb to tomb, but because it illustrates the dangers of Equality Dogma and the jihadist mentality of its adherents.

After pointing out that even in 2011 Norway, virtually all nurses are women and most every engineer is a man, comedian-turned-documentarian Harald Eia interviewed various “experts” about the phenomenon. He then learned of research indicating a strong biological basis for sex-specific job preference. Dr. Trond Diseth of Norway’s National Hospital explained that from the age of nine months, boys gravitate toward “masculine” toys while girls choose “feminine” ones. Cambridge’s Professor Simon Baron-Cohen discussed how even during the first day after birth, boys are more likely to look at mechanical objects whereas girls are drawn to faces, a fact explainable only by way of intrauterine influences (my, what biased places those wombs are!).

This is one reason why, as California State U. Fullerton psychology professor Richard Lippa put it, “Men are much more interested in thing-oriented occupations, things like being an engineer or a mechanic; women, relatively, are much more interested in the people-oriented occupations.” Lippa appeared in the GEP because he conducted a study of 53 nations and found that the sex-specific preference for jobs was universal. Said he, “You would expect it to change across countries if cultures were a big influence.... [Yet the phenomenon] was every bit as strong in Norway as it was in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or India or Singapore or Malaysia.... When you see a result like that ... that gives you a hint that something biological is going on there.”

Yet why are women in less egalitarian nations nonetheless more likely to pursue STEM? Lippa explained what’s obvious, saying, “In the gender-egalitarian countries like Norway, you really are free to follow your inclinations.... In a poor country, you’re probably worried about just getting a job. And if computers are going to get you that job — in India, for example — you’ll go for it.” For sure, there aren’t many opportunities for “gender” researchers in the land of sati and saris.

Speaking of which, the Equality Police’s true nature was revealed when Harald Eia confronted Norwegian “gender” researchers Joergen Lorenzten and Cathrine Egeland with the studies on biological sex differences. Lorenzten just flat-out denied the science, dismissing American research ad-hominem style as “poor” and saying, “My hypothesis is that there are none [biological sex differences]. Science hasn’t shown any.” Egeland’s response was even more telling. When asked what her scientific basis was for denying the research, she stammered the following: “My scientific basis? I have what you would call a theoretical basis. There’s no room for biology in there for me. That would ... and I feel social sciences should challenge thinking that is based on the differences between humans being biological.”

Absolutely striking. What Egeland really means is that she has an ideological basis. Translated, she’s saying that like a doctrinaire communist or Muslim jihadist, her formulaic devotion to her own creed excludes everything — even truth — that contradicts it. She’s not a scientist. She’s an activist.

But activists abound. And with China producing 10 times as many scientists as the United States, we don’t need Title IX-like policies hobbling us further. Yet that may result due to Equality Dogma and one other factor: the notion that science would actually be better if only we’d grease the skids for feminine genius.

This was reflected by writer Samantha Bonar, who recently treated the STEM matter and wrote, “'Girls in the U.S. have been out-performing boys in math and science classes for some time,' said Lisa Wade, associate professor and chairwoman of the sociology department at Occidental College in Los Angeles.” Ah, if only the patriarchy didn’t hold women back, by now we’d have a perpetual motion machine. Actually, though, understanding another sex difference is necessary to place grades in perspective.

In the rigorous specialty high school I attended, I can’t tell you how many highly intelligent young guys I knew who got terrible grades. The reason? They just didn’t try.

Girls are inside-the-box thinkers; boys are outside-the-box thinkers. Girls are more likely to follow society’s prescribed path, right or wrong; boys are more likely to stray from it, right or wrong. What this means for schooling is that girls are wont to apply themselves simply because that’s what you’re supposed to do; they also care more about pleasing parents and teachers. Boys are more apt to say “To hell with this — it’s boring.” This is one reason why virtually all of history’s revolutionaries, both good and bad, have been men. And the education problem is exacerbated today by permissiveness. For the weaker the box’s boundaries, the more boys will stray from it.

Yet there’s something else that happens. While a boy won’t be as inclined as a girl to apply himself to what he finds uninteresting, he’ll pour himself into his passions in a way a girl rarely will. Parents have seen this in sons who spend countless hours working on a computer or practicing a sport. It’s another example of how men are the sex of extremes (which can be good or bad).

But there is another factor still. Bonar’s commentary is a bit deceptive. As the University of Texas study points out, the students most likely to pursue STEM are those with the highest science and math test scores in high school — and these students are predominately male. The reason? There is far more trait variation among men than women. For example, there are more very tall and very short men than women of extremes in height. This applies to intellectual capabilities as well, which is why the ratio of male to female math geniuses is at least seven to one.

By the way, I suspect this is for the same reason why men are more likely to suffer from X-linked genetic disorders. The male Y chromosome makes anomalies far more likely, and, well, great gifts are anomalies.

Why does this matter? Because history-changing scientific triumphs are not made by the average person or even the average “good” science student, but by rare geniuses such as Einstein, da Vinci, Tesla, Newton, Pasteur, and Galileo. This, and not discrimination, is the major reason why virtually all great scientists have been men. And it is why, barring Frankenstein-esque genetic engineering that alters the sexes’ “wiring,” they always will be.

And does it really matter if most engineers are men, most nurses women, and most NBA players black? Those not in envy’s grip can accept that the natural world is an inherently unequal place, and we should cherish others’ gifts, not try to suppress them. After all, it benefits everyone when the cream rises to the top. For a nation homogenized will learn the hard way that equality is no substitute for excellence.

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