Girls, Science and Sexism

Thanks to friends on feministsindia list for these links. The first is a how-not-to and the second, an alternative vision – essentially, just pictures of women actually doing science!

EU made this demeaning and sexist video to encourage women to do science. Take a look at the outraged comments that follow from women scientists.  It was taken down from their website after the negative feedback they received.

(Courtesy Sangeeta Chatterji)


And the alternative:

Girls Doing Science via the blog Feminist Philosophers

(Courtesy Sana Contractor)

6 thoughts on “Girls, Science and Sexism”

  1. Was there another epic fail like this since Larry Summers suggested that the under-representation of women in science and engineering could be due to a “different availability of aptitude at the high end”?

    “We want to overturn clichés and show women and girls, and boys too, that science is not about old men in white coats,” said Geoghegan-Quinn, European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner. Nah, science is about young girls in mini-skirts and 5-inch heels.

    The European Commission also helpfully provided a #sciencegirlthing hashtag (shortly before entering the Witless Protection Programme, I assume). I think it’s mainly that lipstick thing which really pissed off women in science. “Is that seriously an attempt to get women into science?” asks an outraged tweet, “I KNOW NO RESEARCHER WHO WEARS LIPSTICK AND HEELS @ WORK”.


    1. Except that Larry Summers was actually right (or maybe, factually correct, but politically incorrect):
      Was Larry Summers Right? by Ruth Marcus

      The only ‘epic failure’ is the equalist (s)creed.

      And all those efforts (funded by the big daddy State, of course) to get more women into STEM fields can end in nothing but epic failure. Yes, the politically correct ones too.


      1. Murali, did you actually read this article you gleefully cite as proving the ‘epic failure of the equalist creed?’

        1. In it, Marcus cites one study that did not find systematic differences: “In all but three countries — Britain, Thailand and Iceland — more boys than girls scored in the 99th percentile in math.”
        2. Marcus adds about this study: “Yet this study, published in the May 30 issue of Science, also showed a correlation between girls’ performance on math tests and countries where there is more “gender equality,” as measured by things such as the share of female elected officials or women’s participation in the workforce.”

        Hmm. Correlation between girls’ maths scores and generalized conditions of gender equality. What does Marcus say about that? Nothing. it does not affect her conclusion at all.
        What do you say about that revealing sentence, Murali? Nothing.

        In this article itself, then, the studies cited show that ‘more boys than girs in the 99th percentile’ was NOT THE CASE in Britain, Thailand and Iceland.

        In other words, the studies Marcus herself cites are inconclusive regarding systematic gender difference in mathematical ability.

        A letter to the Washington Post pointing out these elementary problems with Marcus’s article, sent by Cathy Kessel, President, Association for Women in Mathematics, was not published by the paper.

        I wonder why.

        Kessel also pointed out two more things in that unpublished letter:
        a) That while the first study cited by Marcus found more white American boys than girls had scores in the 99th percentile of state mathematics tests, in the very same study the situation was reversed for Asian Americans, a fact Marcus does not bother to mention.
        b) That a study published in the November issue of Notices of the American Mathematical Society also documented a lack of systematic gender differences in mathematical ability. Girls as well as boys with exceptional talent for mathematics are frequently identified and nurtured in some countries where this ability is highly valued. In the United States, children of immigrants from these countries are much more likely to be identified as possessing extraordinary mathematical ability.

        In short, mathematical ability is dispersed with no regard to gender within any population.

        Moreover, if you had googled a bit more diligently, Murali, you would have found the original study (published in the July 25th 2008 issue of Science) that Marcus misrepresents in this article that gladdened your anti-equalist little soul so much.
        Here is another report of that study. It is titled:
        “Study: No gender difference in math performance

        The study itself is titled “Gender Similarities Characterize Math Performance”, and it was conducted by Janet S. Hyde, Sara M. Lindberg, Marcia C. Linn, Amy B. Ellis and Caroline C. Williams (the “group of researchers all women, as it happened” whom Marcus does not bother to name).

        When asked if all this data in their study would be enough to finally shift long-held gender-bias, Janet Hyde, the leader of the study, said: “Stereotypes are very, very resistant to change, but as a scientist I have to challenge them with data.”

        She did not account for blatantly dishonest misrepresentation of her data to continue to assert exactly the opposite.

        But tell you what, Murali, you go with whatever you want to believe. I suspect your mighty brain is not capable of much more than continually reaffirming your preconceived prejudices, and you mustn’t strain it too much.


  2. It actually made me laugh.. and I can understand why EU is not able to find out any solution to their crisis…. This video is directly proportional to the mindsets sitting in EU office and deciding about the future of their dwindling stature… I feel like patting their shoulders and say “guys you really, really, really need to grow up”


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