Women are neurologically inferior!

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FemaleScienceProfessor is commenting on a really depressing article by yet another sexist academic on the apparently unfair behaviour of Title IX and other diversity mandates in the States. It is a trend that is starting to really piss me off. First Larry Summers, then John Tierney, and now Peter Wood are flying the it’s-not-discrimination,-women-are-weaker-and-that’s-why-they-aren’t-in-our-fields banner. Here’s Peter Wood’s precious argument:

The science “problems” we now ask students to think about aren’t really science problems at all. Instead we have the National Science Foundation vexed about the need for more women and minorities in the sciences. President Lawrence H. Summers was pushed out of Harvard University for speculating (in league with a great deal of neurological evidence) that innate difference might have something to do with the disparity in numbers of men and women at the highest levels of those fields. [Emphasis mine.]

I’m sorry, I must be one of those neurologically inferior women who is incapable of keeping up with current psychological research. Where’s this neurological evidence you’re talking about? Is it this? This? This? Oh, my mistake, it must be this article, the one that states in its title that “sex matters” to neuroanatomy, but not to eventual outcomes of neurological activity. Mr. Wood must be too busy to read abstracts.

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  • http://www.reneestephen.com Renee

    This stuff so gives me argh it’s not even funny.

    I love these guys who received so much from society to get where they are today who manage somehow to attribute it to only their own strong muscles and personal effort. The argument basically breaks down to this:” I got here, why can’t you? Well, obviously, because you’re not me.” Any guy who has spent even a millisecond paying attention to how women in academia – or, you know, women sitting in their living rooms minding their own business – are treated would not be so quick to dismiss the enormous preponderance of social factors that so overshadow any biological issues that it’s basically like claiming that you really can feel that pea under your twenty layers of mattresses.

  • http://www.reneestephen.com Renee

    Sorry about the rant. As a woman, I get easily upset. By SEXIST ASSHOLES.

  • Steph

    ARGH. This sort of drivel makes me so, so angry. The way these twits talk, you’d think I must have a latent penis around somewhere to be able to even consider doing physics, because clearly my little womanly brain is just not built to do math. Pure, 100% BS.

    I’m enraged by petulant white men crowing about how they’re superior to everyone else because society has handed them their privilege on a silver platter for millennia, but they have the SCIENCE (that they’ve done with obvious bias) to back it up, so we should just suck it up and leave the science/math/anything considered powerful and influencing to the big boys with their anatomically superior brains! Serious amount of angry muttering going on here, and it’s not even 11 o’clock.

  • Charles in Vancouver

    I have a very pregnant friend in my Chemistry program right now and I can see how there are numerous systematic barriers intended to discourage her from pursuing a future in academia as a working mother. She’s getting a year of maternity leave but she’s already decided to downgrade her PhD program to MSc. The prospect of working towards a doctorate at a university where the on-campus child care has a 4-year waiting list is not appealing. If she chooses part-time grad school and additional work hours to support her child, she loses her subsidized on-campus housing.

    Her male supervisor knows what it’s like to have kids but his wife is a stay-at-home type. When my friend approached him about maternity leave, he spoke to her with a tone that suggested she’d really be best to get out of grad school ASAP and let baby-daddy do all the working.

    If there’s anything about male brains that precludes women from ascending the academic ladder, I highly doubt intelligence is it.

  • http://www.guzzlingcakes.com/ Eve

    Haha! Well said, Charles!

  • http://www.guzzlingcakes.com/ Eve

    Update: I have since read the entire article in question (I didn’t have access before, but I managed to get a copy through my supervisor) and have confirmed that the above quotes are not taken out of context. As a matter of fact, there’s also this:

    “Officials of the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education are looking to use Title IX to force science graduate programs to admit more women. The big problem? As of 2001, 80 percent of engineering degrees and 72 percent of computer-science degrees have gone to men.”

    Apparently, the huge attrition rates that lead to such a disparity between 1st year and 4th year gender proportions doesn’t seem to bother him either. The only thing that does bother him is that the people at the end appear to be men, which I guess is what he uses to prove to himself that men are more apt for STEM fields, and that we’re being unfair by saying that women should be given the same shakes as men. Despite an even balance at the beginning of college, few women make it to the end of a degree in science. But what annoys him is that those women, who have obviously made it through despite all sorts of biases working against them, should be given a job.