Is keeping girls clean harming their health?

Fascinating interview with philosopher Sharyn Clough suggesting that it might be.

There’s a growing body of research showing that children exposed to lots of germs early in life are less likely to develop allergies, asthma or autoimmune disorders as they grow up.

But now there’s a new twist on the theory, known as the hygiene hypothesis in scientific circles, and it’s about little girls in cute little dresses.

In an article in the peer-reviewed journal Social Science and Medicine, Sharyn Clough, a philosopher of science at Oregon State University who studies research bias, says young girls are held to a higher standard of cleanliness than young boys, a discrepancy that could help explain later health differences.

Girls are expected to stay squeaky clean while boys are encouraged to play outside, Clough argues. And that might explain why women have higher rates of certain illnesses.

Women have a higher rate of asthma than men — 8.5 percent compared to 7.1 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re also more likely than men to have allergies. And the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association says autoimmune disorders affect women three times more often than men.

H/T Leiter.

New feminism blog, at Men’s Health

The Men’s Health Feminist blog launched in the United States last week, and at last count, more than 200 people had “liked” it on Facebook. The blog will be written by reporter Kiera Aaron, who promised in her first post to “get ready to talk sex, stereotypes, pop culture, and possibly, definitely, not bra burning.”

So far, so obvious. But Aaron also wrote that she will be pointing out intrinscally ingrained sexism in our culture. “It was my idea,” says Aaron. “Men and women are always trying to understand one another, and I think a lot of people are probably feminist without even realising. It was an opportunity to create and open up dialogues for both sexes, dispel myths and negative connotations. There’s a lack of this kind of thing on men’s websites. “

For more, go here.

Thanks, H!

Being objectified worsens women’s maths performance

Women who are looked at as sexual objects not only react as sexual objects, they also exhibit less proficiency with math, according to a new study published in the March 2011 issue of the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly.

For more, go here.

I’m curious whether this is separate from stereotype threat, or a manifestation of it. (I’m thinking it could be that being objectified calls attention to women’s gender. It’s known that being reminded of gender decreased women’s maths performance due to stereotype threat.) Haven’t had a chance to go read the full study yet!