22 January 2006

"Men, Women, and Ghosts in Science"

This is an intriguing article. Author Peter A. Lawrence argues that by not acknowledging that on average men and women have different characteristics, we are doing science a disservice. The current system selects for aggressiveness, assertiveness, self-confidence, self-aggrandization, and so on. Men, on average, tend to have these qualities in higher quantity than women. Women on the other hand, tend to have nurturing, understanding, and social skills that will encourage their peers and mentees. Such characteristics are sorely lacking in the field of science currently, and their lack continues to add to the attrition of "feminine women and feminine men."

The argument of the paper is that where men and women have different characteristics we need the feminine, and where they are the same (originality, creativity, insight), the current trend makes us select against desirable women and for less desirable men. In addition, the social taboo against acknowledging these differences in averages perpetuates the sexism inherent in the system. It's a very interesting thesis, and one that treads a fine line between trying to abolish bias, and perpetuating bias.


j_ethereal said...

This sounds almost like a spiritual argument. The idea of yin and yang. Yin is usually associated with passivity and yang with activity. As Capra states in his book the "Turning Point", we now have a patriarchal society in which all men are supposed to be masculine and all women feminine. I believe that this is a problem in our society today. We need a balance of the two (or a balance of the two averages as each individual doesn't entirely have just yin or just yang traits depending on their gender) to progress and thrive.

utenzi said...

"Men, on average, tend to have these qualities in higher quantity than men."

I'd think that men would have them in the same amount as men, ZP.

zandperl said...

Yeah yeah. It's fixed now. *glares*