Another theory bites the dust!

  ***POW!! #### BIFF-BAM!! %%%% ZOWEE!!!

 You know the  good ol’ Simon Baron Cohen theory that males possess analytic superiority as demonstrated by significantly more men at the top in performance on maths tests? 

See the abstract/article below (from Richard Zack’s blog)

 Janet S. Hyde, and Janet E. Mertz. Gender, culture, and mathematics performance. PNAS vol. 106, no. 22, (June 2, 2009).                        
Abstract: Using contemporary data from the U.S. and other nations, we address 3 questions: Do gender   differences in mathematics performance exist in the general population? Do gender differences exist among the mathematically talented? Do females exist who possess profound mathematical talent? In regard to the first question, contemporary data indicate that girls in the U.S. have reached parity with boys in mathematics performance, a pattern that is found in some other nations as well. Focusing on the second question, studies find more males than females scoring above the 95th or 99th percentile, but this gender gap has significantly narrowed over time in the U.S. and is not found among some ethnic groups and in some nations. Furthermore, data from several studies indicate that greater male variability with respect to mathematics is not ubiquitous. Rather, its presence correlates with several measures of gender inequality. Thus, it is largely an artifact of changeable sociocultural factors, not immutable, innate biological differences between the sexes. Responding to the third question, we document the existence of females who possess profound mathematical talent. Finally, we review mounting evidence that both the magnitude of mean math gender differences and the frequency of identification of gifted and profoundly gifted females significantly correlate with sociocultural factors, including measures of gender equality across nations.

Many thanks, RZ!

Women’s papers for undergraduate teaching

You know, I’m really struck by what a potentially great point in time this is for tackling the gender gap in philosophy. I just keep hearing about project after project. And here’s another great one:

We are seeking suggestions for papers to include in a database of
women-authored papers that would be suitable for undergraduate teaching. The
database is intended to facilitate the selection of texts written by women
to be included in philosophy undergraduate teaching.

The database will be freely accessible online, and is intended to be up and
running by mid-2010. We aim for a pilot version to be ready by the end of

This project is funded by a Macquarie University Competitive Learning and
Teaching Grant, awarded to a team from the Philosophy Department.

We are happy to provide more information if that should be useful,

Thanks in advance for your assistance,

Cynthia Townley, Albert Atkin, Mitch Parsell and Swantje Lorrimer

And then there were five

Women Nobel Prize winners, that is.

The latest woman to win the  prize is the economist, Elinor Ostrom.  Others:

Literature:  Herta Müller

Chemistry:  Ada Yonath

Medicine:  Elizabeth H. Blackburn  and Carol W. Greider

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for philosophers in general to realize that fields unreceptive to women are losing important human capital.  In addition, that is, to making it harder for women to function.

This shouldn’t have to be done

but given that it does, I’m glad Al Franken’s finally there to do it:

Al Franken successfully introduced legislation that denies federal contracts to companies that have policies — anywhere in the world — that punish employees for complaining about rape or discrimination on the job. This is in response to a KBR/Halliburton employee in Iraq who was drugged and gang-raped by co-workers and denied justice or even medical treatment, then locked in a storage container for 24 hours and told that she’d lose her job if she left the country to get medical help. She was also prohibited from suing or seeking criminal justice because her Halliburton contract forbade seeking any justice apart from private arbitration.

Thanks, Mr Jender! (And thanks also to Boing Boing, which has recently started posting a lot of stuff of great feminist importance.)

another request for names

We’ve had a request for names from a department working on material for an introductory philosophy course. If you can think of any, please do leave a comment or send via contact-us. Thank you in advance for any help anyone can offer!

Can anyone name women who are prominent in public life (novelists, poets, judges, tv interviewers, etc., etc. – they just need to be known) who have a philosophy degree, who might be able to talk about the impact the subject had or continues to have on them? I’m particularly interested in those who will be known in the UK.