Originally Posted by Bostonian
Originally Posted by binip
I think we have to move forward with the assumption that girls can do it, because it hurts nobody, and see how it works out. The only alternative is to effectively give up on girls, "You didn't catch up fast enough!", and stop providing them with the support they need to overcome implicit bias, minority status, and so on.
The National Science Foundation has spent $130 million to encourage more women in STEM http://www.universityaffairs.ca/exa...-gender-gap-in-the-stem-disciplines.aspx , based on the belief that disparities are inequities. I think that money could have been better spent on the NSF's primary mission of funding scientific research.

Everyone agrees that the distribution of math ability in the two sexes overlaps -- there are lots of girls who are better than the average boy. Why should the belief that the male distribution is centered slightly to the right of the female distribution have such a discouraging effect on females? Accepting equal ability as dogma often leads to the conclusion that we know fewer women are in STEM because society is stacked against them. I think holding this belief could be more discouraging to a girl than the belief that there is a small difference in the distribution of ability.

I don't know why people find it so discouraging to be told that they probably won't do as well, and I don't know why that has such a big effect on their results. But that's a common behavior in men AND women. Do you know how many men I know who claim they can't dance without even trying? It's stupid. Genetics doesn't only give women the dance gene. Men don't practice for cultural reasons. It's so sad.

I agree that people should accept the truth, but what is the truth in this case? Where is the evidence?

What I don't agree is that we have any idea whether differences in behavior and performance are genetic or cultural. There's no way to test the causal theory that differences are biologically driven (in practical terms--of course I could propose an experiment, it just couldn't be carried out) so there's no reason to assume that they are.

Moreover, there are reasons to believe that discouraging half of the workforce from entering entire swaths of professions IS problematic for science. My partner is a biologist and his last three bosses were biologists. I only know one bio-statistician and that is a woman. Imagine if these women were discriminated against because of a widespread belief, not challenged, that they would likely perform worse than a man.

Last edited by binip; 03/13/14 01:50 PM.