April 30, 2009
Not that long ago, I watched women in a roller derby with a guy friend, and he was absolutely disgusted by seeing the women on skates being so aggressive. And women with tattoos? Heaven forbid. There are even men who object to women drinking beer from a bottle. What?
Then there are the non-too subtle messages sent out to women from some lofty male figures that they are simply not as smart as men in many areas of life. Some statements are mind-blowing disrespectful.
Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Harvard University was featured in an article published in The Boston Globe and written by Marcella Bombardieri, Globe Staff, January 17, 2005. The article was written in response to statements Summers made and she said: “The setting was a two-day conference at the economic research bureau, a group in Cambridge whose members include economists from all over the country. The conference, on women and minorities in the science and engineering workforce, was a private, invitation-only event, with about 50 attendees.”
Bombardieri also said: “The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, sparked an uproar at an academic conference Friday when he said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. Summers also questioned how much of a role discrimination plays in the dearth of female professors in science and engineering at elite universities.”
Perhaps Summers might want to read my blogs (doubtful) and look at the research that supports the insidious, underlying gender discrimination that starts in infancy and ultimately prevents many women in a myriad of professions to break through the prejudice. When people say women are not willing to work the number of hours men do, I have to ask them how do you think men can do that? In all probability there is a woman behind him, most likely a wife working full-time, running the household, taking care of domestic responsibilities and mostly raising the children. That easily explains how males are able to put the time into their careers with little outside interference or distractions.
Bombardieri, continued in the article: “However, the problem of women in academia is one that Summers is confronting in his role as university president. The percentage of tenured job offers made to women by the university’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences has dropped dramatically since Summers took office, prompting vigorous complaints from many of Harvard’s senior female professors.”
I’m seeing a contradiction here. One the one hand, there is doubt that gender discrimination might play a role in the dearth of female professors in science and engineering but the flip side says there a dramatic drop in the percentage of tenured jobs offered to women by the university’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences since Summers took office. I’m confused!!!
She goes on to say: “Summers has called last year’s results, when only 32 tenured job offers went to women, unacceptable and promised to work on the problem. However, some Harvard professors have questioned his commitment to the issue.”
Now, let’s go on to another male who demeaned females and also their racial background. Don Imus is reported to have made a reference to Rutgers women’s basketball team, calling them “Nappy-headed hos.” That was said the day after the team competed in the NCAA championship game. These women are reported to be of high intellect as well as excellent athletes. I am not a fan of spectator sports, but I do not ever recall a commentator making personal derogatory statements about an entire male team on national radio or TV. They comment about the execution of a game or the ability or lack of talent concerning an individual, but I doubt they indicted an entire team with irrelevant, nasty slurs .
So, what’s happening here? Is there a deep-rooted need within most men to keep women as second class citizens, trying hard to prevent them from excelling in math, science, engineering and athletics? Why aren’t women athletes elevated and put in the same category as men? I myself have heard men say they’d rather watch a male basketball game rather than a women’s team. On the other hand, the same men love watching females play professional tennis. Could it possibly be the short skirts that show panties in a good wind and a little bit of cleavage for some? They never mind watching the good looking cheerleaders.
In USA Today, Sports, updated on 4/11/2007, Christine Brennan wrote an article called, Keeping Score. Here’s an excerpt from the article that I thought pertinent:
“In the Imus case, the racial component has helped give voice to the gender issue: The fact that the nation’s No. 2 basketball team has been treated with such utter disregard by a national media powerhouse, Imus thrives in a male-dominated, trash-talking world, where it’s often open season on women. While Imus uttered repulsive words that others certainly would not use, let’s not kid ourselves. On every college campus, there’s a male athlete or coach who under his breath has made fun of a female athlete in the last week or two, guaranteed.”
To me, this kind of talk and behavior whether joking or serious is dangerous. It starts with very, very young children and continues unabated into adulthood. Some may laugh it off, but it terrifies me. I have to wonder if the demeaning and smug snickering that belittles women ultimately incites some men to commit violence, rape and abuses. This insidious disdain society demonstrates against females is destructive and, in my mind, contributes to the very high divorce rate. There seems to be a somewhat hidden, but very real disregard for women as equals. More to come in my next blog. In the meantime, let’s unite and try to wipe out every shred of gender inequity.
The sexy G firstname.lastname@example.org
April 23, 2009
Because so many people are unaware of the continuing bias toward females in the workforce and other areas of life, I have concentrated on quoting people in the academic field who are far more imbued in studies done on this topic. I know the following quotes are long, but please stay with me as it is vital to the point I’m trying to make.
The journal I quoted from in my last blog blew my mind. I’d like to quote once again from The Scientific American Mind, Volume 18, Number 6, December 2007/January 2008, an article entitled, “Sex, Math and Scientific Achievement.” The authors are, Diane F. Halpern, Camilla P. Benbow, David C. Geary, Ruben C. Gur, Janet Shibley Hyde and Morton Ann Gernsbacher.
“There has been one thorough study of the real-world peer-review process. Biologists Christine Wenneras and Agnes Wold of Goeteborg University gained access to the Swedish Medical Research Council’s data on postdoctoral fellowship awards only after a battle in court. Shortly before the investigators published their study in 1997, the United Nations had named Sweden the leading country in the world with respect to equal opportunities for men and women. Even so, men dominated Swedish science. At the time, women received 44 percent of Swedish biomedical doctoral degrees but held only 25 percent of postdoctoral positions and 7 percent of professional positions.
“What Wenneras and Wold discovered was shocking. Female applicants received lower mean scores in all areas in which they were evaluated: scientific competence, quality of proposed methodology and relevance of the research proposal. It was possible that the women applicants were less qualified. To test this possibility, the investigators computed scientific productivity based on the applicant’s total number of publications, number of first-author publications, quality of each publication and number of times other scientific papers cited their work. By these measures, the most productive group of female researchers was rated as comparable in ability to the least productive male researchers. All other women were rated below all the men. The authors of this study concluded that the peer-review process in what is arguably the most gender-equal nation in the world is rife with sexism. These results provide a strong rationale for making the peer-review process more transparent. Despite these findings, which were published in the top-ranked international scientific journal Nature, there has been no progress toward making the peer-review process more open.”
There was a study done in the ’80s to further understand this seeming disparity in the sciences between boys and girls and it was mentioned in the same article.
“Data from the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth exemplify this phenomenon. In the 1980s one of us (Benbow), along with the late psychologist Julian C. Stanley, who founded this study at the John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, observed sex difference in mathematical reasoning ability among tens of thousands of intellectually talented 10 – to 14 – year-olds who had taken the SAT several years before the typical age.
“Among this elite group, no significant differences were found on the verbal part of the SAT, but the math part revealed sex differences favoring boys. There were twice as many boys as girls with math scores of 500 or higher (out of a possible score of 800), four times as many boys with scores of at least 600, and 13 times as many boys with scores of at least 700 (putting these test takers in the top 0.01 percent of 12 – to 14 – year-olds nationwide).
“Although it has drawn little media coverage, dramatic changes have been occurring among these junior math wizards: the relative number of girls among them has been soaring. The ratio of boys to girls, first observed at 13 to 1 in the 1980s, has been dropping steadily and is now only about 3 to 1. During the same period the number of women in a few other scientific fields has surged. In the U.S., women now make up half of new medical school graduates and 75 percent of recent veterinary school graduates. We cannot identify any single cause for the increasing the number of women entering these formerly male-dominated fields, because multiple changes have occurred in society over the past several decades.
“This period coincides with a trend of special programs and mentoring to encourage girls to take higher-level math and science courses. And direct evidence exists that specifically targeted training could boost female performance even further.”
I would speculate that one of the reasons law, medical and graduate schools have welcomed so many women is that they needed to fill seats. Tuitions since the 1980s have jumped dramatically and perhaps that induced the institutions of higher learning to look at qualified women differently. I hate to be so cynical, but it seems logical to me when so many people bought into the notion of women being inferior in so many subjects, especially the sciences.
I mentioned before that although women comprise approximately 50 percent of law students only 16 percent nationally achieve partnerships. The same statistic goes for medical students. Only about 16 percent of women achieve status in the higher echelon of medicine (department chairpersons, research, etc.), while the rest remain in the lower levels. The same could be said for most previously male dominated areas of endeavor. It is in the upper reaches of the above mentioned fields where the discrimination is seen most clearly. Although there have been small changes, they are moving a lot slower than most women would like – or I would like.
In order to achieve male/female equality, the male dominated world has to give up some power. In marriages, men must participate equally in the domestic scene. Why don’t more wealthy law firms, businesses and hospitals put in day care centers for their workers? They could charge a reasonable amount in order to break even but it would produce so much less of employee turnover and give women a chance to excel.
Sadly, I don’t see this coming any time soon. A good first step toward seeking equity would be widespread recognition of these issues and transparency in how people are selected for the high level jobs, postdoctoral awards, professorships, research and other positions. Once the discrimination is seen and corrected, perhaps then women can forge ahead.
Women, we must speak out. Look carefully at the low percentages of women in power even though women comprise approximately 50 percent of the entire work force. Don’t be afraid to speak out because you’ll be accused of being an overly aggressive female (more often called a ball-buster). You are just righting an injustice. Remember, when men speak out they are applauded for being on the cutting edge and enlightening the world. Let’s do it!
The Sexy G email@example.com
April 16, 2009
It is widely thought that the United States is running behind other countries in the areas of math, science and engineering. The scientific community appears to be extremely fearful if, in the near future, we fall behind too far behind. They seem to want to import people proficient in these fields, but it is increasingly more difficult to get around immigration laws for bringing brainpower into the U.S. There are numerous complaints in the scientific community about these restrictions. So, where do we look to fill the many vital slots available?
Wake up, people. There is a huge reservoir of talented population right here in the U.S. that has not, to date, been fully exploited. Women! Some inroads have been made to support women to join this so-called elite group, but not enough. Before this giant pool of intellect is tapped into and welcomed, the deep-lying prejudice – that women just don’t have the biological wherewithal to compete – must be eliminated. It would surely help to close the ever widening gap if women were encouraged to enter those fields where they are presently under represented.
Okay, readers. Let’s get to work here. Are we going to buy into that nonsensical myth? Of course not! We need to discover why women are not working in these fields as much as men. Is the pervasive suspicion true that women, in general, don’t have the biological capacity for these areas of expertise? Or, have the years of holding women back in male-dominated fields created this demise? Women, throughout time, have been told they can’t do math and don’t belong in the sciences or engineering. Hence, there are undercurrents of discrimination implicit in our society and a continuing lack of support in giving women opportunities to achieve at the top levels in the scientific community. It wasn’t that long ago that women were being told not to let men know they can do advanced math if they wanted to snare him into marriage.
In an article, “Why Men Dominate in Science and Math” published in Scientific American Mind, Volume 18, Number 6, December 2007/January 2008 by Diane F. Halpern, Camilla P. Benbow, David C. Geary, Ruben C. Gur, Janet Shibley Hyde and Morton Ann Gernsbacher, had this to say: “One of the confusing things about the field of sex differences is that you can arrive at very different conclusions depending on how you decide to assess abilities. Women clearly have the right stuff to cut it academically. They have constituted the majority of college enrollments in the U.S. since 1982, with the attendance gap widening every year since then. Similar trends are occurring in many other countries. Furthermore, women receive higher average grades in school in every subject – including mathematics and science.
“Despite their success in the classroom, however, women score significantly lower on many standardized tests used for admission to college and graduate school. The disparity in male-female enrollment in science and related fields grows larger at advanced levels of the education system. For example, in the late 1990′s women represented 40 percent of undergraduates in science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but only 8 percent of the faculty.”
This trend is startlingly real in other fields as well. One such example is that although females comprise at least 50 percent of law school students, only approximately 16 percent are partners nationally. What is happening here?
The article goes on to talk about the biological and cognitive abilities of both sexes such as boys being more variable in mathematical ability while females are more clustered toward the center of the distribution of skills.
“Perhaps most troubling is the thought that a skilled, confident scientist could climb to the top and still face discrimination when she gets there. Nevertheless, plenty of research suggests that people’s perception of a job as stereotypically masculine or feminine results in a bias in hiring and compensating candidates or employees who are male and female, respectively. Even though social psychologists agree that the overt sexism that existed decades ago in the U.S. and in many other countries is now rare they say it has been replaced by unconscious sexism in some situations.”
My question is why do so many people deny this disturbing, subtle undertow of discrimination against women still exists? Besides, I don’t think it is always unconscious. In many instances, it is semi-conscious if not clearly something people are totally aware of.
I know a very bright young woman who is going for a Ph.D. in science and is involved in a research project that is associated with a major university. One female, senior researcher informed this young Ph.D. candidate that if she wanted to remain and advance in the arena of complex research she should forget about having children. Even marriage was questionable. My guess is that the woman was dead-on, telling it like it is.
Listen to the following paragraph from the same article cited above, “Why Men Dominate in Science and Math” – “Finally, we cannot consider success at work without considering the effort needed for families to function and maintain a home. Even when husbands and wives both work full-time, women continue to assume most of the child care duties and to shoulder most of the responsibility for tending to sick and elderly family members. Women work, on average, fewer hours per week and spend more time on family and household tasks than comparably educated men do. For women, having children is associated with lower income and a reduced probability of attaining tenure. In contrast, men show a slight tendency to benefit professionally when they become fathers. Thus, the different roles women and men play in family care can also explain their differential participation in demanding careers.”
All you women out there – are you going to take this? I suggest you get out there and educate the people who insist women have become equal on all fronts. They haven’t taken into consideration the hidden biases. The fight for equality is far from ended. There is a long, arduous road ahead before the gender gap favoring men and the glass ceiling are eliminated.
The Sexy G firstname.lastname@example.org
April 2, 2009
In the last blog I talked about situations where women’s medical issues are summarily dismissed. Overall, it occurs in a majority of everyday daily events.
Here is another very important, but often overlooked, area — menopause. If men had hot flashes and night sweats like women do, there would be an instantaneous cure and the change of life would be a piece of cake. Yet, men have something of a comparable nature. Many men, not all, experience a kind of male menopause that is usually called a mid-life crisis. He could be anywhere from late forties on up.
It could happen to a man in a long-term relationship who feels the hands of time pressing on him. He decides that he needs space and possibly reverts to a teenage level of maturity. He begins to see his mortality and becomes very fearful. Perhaps he thinks his family is holding him back from achieving the greatness he thought he deserved. He doesn’t stop to think that his wife was tied down as well, raising children and/or worked. Perhaps she had to raise him, too.
Another major fear is that he hasn’t achieved his dreams no matter how unrealistic they may be. Even if he hasn’t reached obtainable goals once he hits this mid-life crisis it is enough to throw him into a depression or revive the one he’s had and run from all of his life. He might blame his unhappiness on his wife, his children or being hemmed in by domestic bliss. Instead of handling this crisis in a mature way, many men indulge in affairs – more often than not with a younger woman.
This kind of temporarily maneuver (although he doesn’t know that it is temporary, yet) revives what he sees as his youth. Now he doesn’t have to think about having reached middle age. It might never occur to him to sit down and talk to his wife about the problem he’s experiencing. There is no cheap thrill in coming to a grown-up solution in a rational manner like finding engrossing hobbies, a change of career, more intellectual/recreational activities, more involvement with his family, perhaps a move to another location. The list is endless.
What is missing from this stable method of handling a trying situation is the adrenalin rush. Capturing the attention of a younger woman is much more of exciting It can momentarily take him out of his funk.
Often, this younger woman (maybe in her thirties or forties) is anxious to marry because of economics or a ticking biological clock or both. For some strange reason he denies this reality, more than likely because she coddles him and gives him unconditional adoration. There is a tendency for him to believe she’s actually mad about him. All will be terrific and romantic, and they’ll live happily ever after once he leaves his wife. This new younger person is the answer to ridding himself of his depression. That is, until the reality of this new domesticity bliss slams him. And, she might have delivered the first child she begged for. There might even be a second one. His depression returns with a vengeance because you can only run so far from. The real cure is discovering the root of what’s causing it. He’s returned to the sad emotional status where he started only a lot poorer.
Enter – bills, laundry, home repairs, snotty noses, braces, crying kids (and in tandem with child support for the children of his earlier marriage or even alimony).
Many men applaud this type of reaction to a mid-life crisis of finding a younger woman and think it is pretty cool. But when menopause symptoms strike a woman she is thought to be hysterical and that she exaggerates her symptoms. So, she sweats a little and gets these funny hot flashes and her face turns beet red and it might cause a little nausea. So what? The difference is, more than likely, she continues carrying out her responsibilities to her family. I have never heard of a woman leaving because she hit menopause (although there might be a few) but many men (in much greater numbers) leave when they smack into a mid-life crisis.
I think this kind of behavior is an inability to take responsibility for ones own internal problems that probably have nothing to do with outsiders. Depression can’t be cured with running. It finds you. You can’t run with drugs, alcohol or musical chairs with women. If a man will look at that and say he has to find the answer within himself, whether with help or on his own, it is a much healthier and lasting way to go. Otherwise, when the young thing stops making him happy she is out and number three or four enters. You have to understand yourself before you can be happy – that goes for men and women.
The Sexy G email@example.com
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