Gender bias in how a scientist’s work is evaluated? Yep. It comes mostly from women.

8 Apr

 

 

First, the good news! We found the hamster and he’s alive!

 

hamster

 

Saturday, around 2 o’clock in the morning, Mr. JB heard our big orange kitty jump off his perch in our bedroom (he’s a fat little fucker, so it’s hard to miss) and go creeping stealthily down the stairs. So Mr. JB got up and followed him down, and sure enough, our little hamster friend, Butterscotch, had crawled out of the ductwork and was huddled in the hallway.

 

booboo

 

As soon as Butterscotch laid eyes on BooBoo the cat, he fled back into the ducts. So Mr. JB chucked BooBoo outside (kitty was not impressed) and then spent an hour coaxing Butterscotch out of the ducts with some celery. Poor little guy was starving! He ate the celery, two baby carrots, a strawberry and about 30 pumpkin seeds. And then went to sleep.

 

Mr. JB finally got back to bed around 3 AM, and his alarm went off at 4:15, and he had to get up and get ready for his flight and an 8AM meeting. What a great guy! Crawling around the house with a piece of celery for an hour even though he had a crazy busy day ahead of him.

 

sleeping

 

I got up at four with him and checked my email to see that several different people had send me this link (Which I appreciate! Keep ‘em coming!):

 

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/matilda.htm

 

Gender Bias Found in How Scholars Review Scientific Studies

Study Abstracts Rated as Higher Quality with Male Authors

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A scientist’s gender can have a big impact on how other researchers perceive his or her work, according to a new study.

 

Young scholars rated publications supposedly written by male scientists as higher quality than identical work identified with female authors.

 

The research found that graduate students in communication — both men and women — showed significant bias against study abstracts they read whose authors had female names like “Brenda Collins” or “Melissa Jordan.”

 

These students gave higher ratings to the exact same abstracts when the authors were identified with male names like “Andrew Stone” or “Matthew Webb.”

 

scientist

 

Well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? I wonder what the sample size was?

n = 243

Not bad.

Oh, now this is interesting: the 243 “scholars” were grad students in Communications, and 70% of them were women.

 

Let’s let that sink in for a second.

 

Now, if you’re like me, your first thought was “what the fuck is a graduate program in communications and how does this qualify anyone to evaluate scientific abstracts?” What do you DO with a master’s in communications?

pr

 

Marketing

Public Relations

Journalism

Corporate Communications

 

http://ask.metafilter.com/146252/What-can-I-do-with-a-masters-in-communication

 

Basically, a bullshit liberal arts designation. Most of the “scholars” will end up writing press releases for the new and improved Tampax, if they’re lucky. Most of them will be…..

 

barista

 

Oh hello, Starbucks barista!

 

Hey, at least with that master’s degree, you can work at McDonalds.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/mcdonalds-want-ad-demands-bachelors-degree-two-years-experience-for-cashier/article/2526145

 

So this is the pack of completely unqualified nitwits we’re going to have evaluating scientific papers. It’s highly unlikely any of them could possibly evaluate the work on merits alone, so obviously, they’re going to use some unconscious bias as a yardstick. It’s called a confirmation bias, and yay for the brilliant researchers who set up the experiment in the first place.

 

Rookie mistake.

 

You’d shit all over a grad student making such an obvious error, and here are two lady researchers, Silvia and Caroll, creating an experiment specifically designed to confirm what they no doubt already believe. In order for this study to be valid, the individuals evaluating the abstracts need to be able to do so on MERIT alone, and THEN if you see men’s work being given higher evaluations, you have evidence of gendered bias.

 

Asking communications students to evaluate science abstracts would be exactly like asking biologists to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. On what basis are they supposed to make their judgement calls?

 

scratch head

 

Completely ridiculous.

 

But thought-provoking, for some very different reasons than the researchers intended.

 

The full paper hasn’t been published yet, but it will be interesting to see if they track the gender breakdown in terms of WHO was the most biased. Obviously, since 70% of the evaluations came from women, there is a whole lot of bias coming FROM women.

 

Why is it that women are willing to rank men higher than women? No doubt, the authors will put forth the suggestion that the fragile little cupcakes have been brainwashed by the patriarchy into believing that women aren’t as good at science as men, ignoring the fact that WOMEN AREN’T AS GOOD AT SCIENCE AS MEN.

 

I mean really, what standards do you want to use?

 

Nobel Prizes?

98% awarded to men.

 

http://judgybitch.com/2013/02/05/the-genius-of-women-or-the-capacity-to-love-others-more-than-you-love-yourself/

 

The National Medal of Science?

90% awarded to men from 1996 – 2005

http://www.newswise.com/articles/national-medal-of-science-winners-are-all-men-for-third-straight-year

 

medal

 

The Fields Medal in mathematics?

100% awarded to men.

 

When you come across a scientific article by a woman, it is reasonable to assume that it won’t be as good as an article by a man, on AVERAGE. All that means is that you need to look carefully at the actual work. The assumption is neither here nor there. On average, all the cars will stop at a red light. That doesn’t mean they all will, and you still need to check and make sure the intersection is clear.

 

There ARE some brilliant women scientists. I just wrote about one:

 

http://judgybitch.com/2013/04/01/%EF%BB%BFrocket-scientist-figures-out-that-a-womans-life-isnt-rocket-science-a-truly-brilliant-lady-worth-applauding/

 

When you ask communications students to evaluate scientific articles, they CAN’T react to the quality of the work or the merits of the study. They have zero qualifications to do so. All they will do is react to their biases, which actually DO have some basis in fact.

 

What irritates the shit out of me when it comes to studies like this is that the group most affected by the idea that there is some kind of conspiracy keeping women from achieving their full potential in science is actual, real life, lady scientists.

 

lady

 

Women who succeed in STEM fields, who are gifted at those kinds of things, are special. They are DIFFERENT from other women, and they deserve to be applauded and recognized and acknowledged as being special. The argument that ALL women could take on sequencing the genome or hunting for the Higg’s Boson if only it weren’t for that pesky patriarchy keeping them out of the collider denies how extraordinary lady scientists really are.

 

higgs

 

Why can’t we hold up women scientists as brilliant individuals, in and of their own right? Sure, they’re great role models, for OTHER lady scientists, but the majority of women are not interested in science, nor are they particularly good at it.

 

So what?

 

We can cheer for women who succeed in traditionally masculine areas of achievement without needing to create some mythical force that keeps all the rest of us out. There isn’t one. Just like we can cheer for men who succeed in traditionally feminine occupations! Hooray for male nurses!

 

http://judgybitch.com/2013/03/01/there-are-more-male-nurses-than-ever-highly-specialized-technically-qualified-male-nurses-who-get-paid-more-than-female-nurses-because-sexism/

 

If there really IS a gender bias against women carrying out and publishing the results of research in science, then let’s keep in mind that A) there is some evidence to support that bias; and B) a lot of that bias comes from OTHER women.

 

Ultimately, asking a whole bunch of women completing some sort of arty-farty bullshit master’s degree, looking forward to an astonishing career making lattes while trying to pay down the debt they took on to get that degree, what they think of women who do REAL work might just come down to one thing:

 

Sour fucking grapes.

 

Nobody rips women down quite like other women.

 

Only one thing to do:

 

boson

 

Fabiola, you’re fabulous! Go find that particle for us. That’s a study we’ll read! Even if it was written by a girl.

 

fabiola

 

Lots of love,

JB

44 Responses to “Gender bias in how a scientist’s work is evaluated? Yep. It comes mostly from women.”

  1. Liz April 8, 2013 at 16:02 #

    Butterscotch ate “He ate the celery, two baby carrots, a strawberry and about 30 pumpkin seeds”? Holy moly, sounds more like the hungry little caterpillar. Sure he wasn’t just stuffing it in his cheek pouches? 🙂

    Like

  2. Bee April 8, 2013 at 16:44 #

    Kudos to Mr. JB!

    Like

  3. Z April 8, 2013 at 17:28 #

    I’m glad you found your hamster! And that he was alive. 🙂

    It’s obvious that the people who did this study, in order to make it say what they wanted to make it say, had to find some uneducated people to ask. If they’d asked actual scientists or even college majors in a scientific field, they would have had different results.

    I think they suspect that as well. People are going to see the “OMG gender bias” and talk about the patriarchy some more, while ignoring that 70% of that bias was coming from “other women”. So it can hardly be something we blame “the men” for.

    Had they asked actual scientists or science students, they would have had an overwhelming majority of men… and people who actually knew stuff about science… and then… oh dear… what if there WAS NO bias? What then?

    What do you want to bet, they tried that first, didn’t like their answer, and so decided to go ask a bunch of women who don’t know anything about science?

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  4. sqt April 8, 2013 at 18:14 #

    That is the cutest little hamster.

    As you’ve said before, women who excel in math and science will do just fine in their chosen fields. Excellence will always win just as it always has. Just because there aren’t that many women who can (or even want to) succeed in those fields doesn’t mean there’s some awful patriarchy in play- but women do love a good grievance.

    Like

  5. Andy April 8, 2013 at 18:34 #

    Rebecca Watson of skepchick fame has a degree in communications.

    Although she finds discussing coffee a problem.

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  6. Fuzzy Dunlop April 8, 2013 at 19:46 #

    Only in elevators. Who thinks this charming redhead has a degree in communications as well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvYyGTmcP80 ? Or is the word “fuck” perhaps more common in Women’s Studies?

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  7. sqt April 8, 2013 at 21:04 #

    Aw, isn’t she cute? Yeah, not so much… I don’t think I watched for more than 30 seconds- which is probably as long as anyone can stand listening to her.

    Like

  8. Mark April 9, 2013 at 00:10 #

    Considering that affirmative action programs for women lower the academic standards for women to get into science programs compared to male standards, it would be surprising if it didn’t turn out to be the case that male authors were on average objectively more rigorous than female ones… not because they are male, but because being male requires one to meet higher standards due largely to feminist efforts to artificially stack these fields with women.

    And did they just change the names on the same abstract, or actually have them read studies by different authors? Because if the latter, then it’s worth noting that men tend to pick subjects perceived as more difficult, rigorous, and quantitative (and perhaps therefore more likely to get a higher rating from readers); even within a field, like biology, men are more likely to go into computational biochemistry than, say, zoology, and a study from the former will, to most, probably rate higher than the latter as being more challenging (and therefore more impressive if done successfully) and more useful.

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  9. Mark April 9, 2013 at 00:13 #

    It speaks to the sad state of the American higher education system even with everything that’s coming out of her mouth, she could just as easily be an English major.

    Like

  10. Alex April 9, 2013 at 01:35 #

    i smell self-fulfilling prophecies here

    Like

  11. Kai April 9, 2013 at 03:03 #

    As a general rule, these studies are bullshit.
    But we all do have prejudices, whether conscious or unconscious. I recently had to hire some people, and deliberately chose to remove the names and addresses from the resumes as I printed them off, then evaluate the hard copies on content alone before putting the names back on them. I figure it’s quite likely that when I know the name (male/female, white/nonwhite, etc.) it may affect the tone, and it’s better that I don’t let that affect my first read. Now, i do later judge by other things, some of it deliberate, but giving applicants the first shot seems reasonable.
    And I’m not an HR department or anything. I’m just responsible for hiring my own staff, so once or twice a year, I might hire 1-3 people if I need additional. So I’m a pretty small sample size for anything.
    But especially considering most hiring departments *are* women, I would support efforts to make application systems not include names or other identifying information. When a company is doing mass hires, often through internet application forms, it would be trivial to have the system identify each application by a number, and strip personal information off the heading. The process could easily be to review resumes identified by number, then look up names of the people brought in for an interview. The same system could apply to grant applications, and other similar areas.
    These sorts of things seem like simple organisation changes that can partially address the assorted biases we all hold without needing to prove an issue with women or any such thing.

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  12. Mark April 9, 2013 at 04:25 #

    I’m not too surprised given my own hamster experience. One of my hamsters a long time ago got into a drawer in my desk and we didn’t find him till a week later. He ate his way through about ten inches of notebooks, folders, and assorted paper. I’m not sure how much of it he ate or just turned into confetti (or how nutritious all that paper was), but in any case, he survived. At the expense of all my school supplies.

    Like

  13. Luke April 9, 2013 at 13:48 #

    Well done, again, JB. As the saying go:
    1) What does a liberal arts degree holder say on the job? “Would you like fries with that?”.
    2) What’s the difference between a musician and a large pizza? The pizza can feed a family of four.

    That said, the biologists would likely do better at judging the comm majors’ work than the reverse, the bios almost certainly being considerably brighter.

    There are two other points I wish to make about women scientists:
    1) there are going to be few actual ones, no matter what affirmative action and K-12 indoctrination that PMS-sufferers* do logic better than people with 10% larger brains. That is, the extra half chromosome women get dampens the extremes for them, such that most geniuses and morons are male. The numbers for the former run something like 3:1 M/F at the 130 IQ level, and >6:1 at the 160 IQ level.

    2) A man diving into a career that is for a long time all-consuming is not a prescription for his genetic line dying out the way that it is for a woman. That would make such a choice for her, but not him, to be biologic failure. Consider the case of a woman who wishes to become a neurosurgeon. She graduates college after 5 years (non-bovine flatus degrees commonly take 5 years, not 4), putting her at age 23, say. With a real possibility of taking a year to get admitted to medical school, that puts her at age 23 best case (BC), 24 worst case (WC) to start. Med school takes 4 years, yes, but more than a few med students have to repeat a year, so she’s 27 BC, 29 WC. The residency is 7 years, but she may have to repeat a year if the program closes or she fails to be allowed to advance every year (screws up) and has to transfer (surgeon friend of mine had BOTH those happen, losing 2 years progress). End residency, age 34 BC, 38 WC. Residents make poor money, not all that much better in many cases than graduate teaching assistants, and certainly unable to do much about paying off medical school debts.

    So, here she is, our aspiring clitoral-possessing would-be neurosurgeon. Age 34-38, she has a quarter-million-dollar debt (undischargeable in bankruptcy) that makes her unmarriageable if she does not get it gone. That would take 3 years easy, even if she continued to live the same “work like a slave, live poorer than a welfare scammer” lifestyle she’s had to live up to this point to get to where she is. Practically half her life behind her already, and she’s been a poster child for delayed gratification. So, figure she’s 37 BC/40+ WC by the time the debt’s gone. That’s no recipe for much of a family, not with half her looks and 90%+ of her fertility behind her, before she even gets a husband. With 3 (not 2) children being replacement rate, she’s a likely massive failure biologically, whatever her contribution to ending brain tumors and migraines.

    *Having a life history of emotional instability from being potentially subject to PMS disqualifying a woman from appropriately having control over nuclear weapons should IMO have been used against Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Presidency.

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  14. Erudite Knight April 9, 2013 at 15:44 #

    (noble prizes) 98% awarded to men.

    ^I have seen this argued as proof of a worldwide patriarchy. You know you are delusional when you start thinking that.

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  15. Kai April 10, 2013 at 02:07 #

    There’s nothing wrong with some women being biologic failures. Some women are genetic mutants who lack the basic instinct to continue their genes. It is normal, right, and decent for society to support those women in successfully failing to pass on their genes.

    As for PMS, a life history of genuine observed emotional instability from PMS (or anything else) would be a good reason to not allow a woman near the button. The fact that one possesses a uterus is not a good reason, lacking any evidence of the actual problems that *can* come.
    PMS is mostly bullshit and excuses. Different women have different symptoms, with many women having none at all. There are plenty of women who have no more emotional instability at particular times of the month than at other times, and even more who wouldn’t if they weren’t using it as an excuse. Now, many women are insufficiently stable to be in power at the best of times, but fear of PMS due to presence of uterus is a serious cop-out as a disqualifier.

    In the specific scenario, it was Obama vs. Clinton. Obama knows he needs the women’s vote to win the big prize after defeating Clinton, so it would have been very stupid of him to allow anyone on his team to attack Clinton for being a woman, legitimacy aside.

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  16. Z April 10, 2013 at 03:11 #

    LMAO! To be fair, any man who asked me to coffee in his hotel room at 4 am, I would consider that an invitation for sex. The reason being… if I DID go to his room at 4am and he wanted sex and I didn’t and for some reason it went badly… I would be told I was stupid for going to his room at 4 am… “What did you think was going to happen?” So in that regard I see her point… BUT… and here is the big but… even if he WAS propositioning her… propositioning is not rape or threat. She said no, he took it well. That should have been the end of it.

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  17. Z April 10, 2013 at 03:13 #

    holy crap WHERE is all her nasty anger coming from? She needs some kind of anger detox. Or an orgasm.

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  18. Z April 10, 2013 at 03:22 #

    With regards to passing on genes, one has to look at it another way as well… there are 7 billion freaking people on this planet. If most women continue to reproduce as most women have throughout history, we are going to quickly go past capacity. Then everybody suffers. Just like when the deer overpopulate themselves and they aren’t being killed off fast enough to maintain a stable population.

    I wouldn’t bring a child into this world, not because I’m particularly selfish or stupid, but because I’m not. With all the crap feminism has screwed up for BOTH genders, as well as pollution, overpopulation, increasing governmental control, growing issues with economies all over the world, I just can’t see a kid I brought here having a good life, even if I did everything right. I refuse to do that to another human being whose consent I didn’t get to bring them here just because of some evolutionary urge to self-replicate.

    That doesn’t mean I fault anybody who DOES have kids. Obviously somebody has to procreate if there’s going to be another generation but… I feel with 7 billion on the planet, I can safely sit this one out. That my genes are not being passed on is not something I really care about one way or the other. It’s a false ideal of immortality. We must all deal with our own mortality and having children doesn’t make YOU last any longer.

    That said, people like JB? Those are the people who need to be having the babies because they take the job of parenting seriously. I don’t envy them in this world, but I respect them.

    Like

  19. Kai April 10, 2013 at 04:29 #

    I don’t believe that was her point. I think her point was that when you are propositioned, however euphemistically, with just the two of you in an elevator, it can feel like a situation where if she says no and he doesn’t take it well, she could be in danger. And therefore, it would be nice of men to consider that side when they proposition, since we don’t live in a world where all men take it well when they are turned down.
    And really, if it were left simply at that, I think I might agree. I don’t think there is anything wrong with telling people ‘you probably wouldn’t think of this, but since I’m on the other side, here’s how x can come across’.
    The reason I see it as a problem was how big a deal she made of it, so it was overblown into a huge thing, and the problem of it being read in an already systemic problem of women expecting men to do all the thinking and risk-taking and considering of their possible implications while letting women off the hook for everything.

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  20. Kai April 10, 2013 at 07:03 #

    I definitely think that arguments about needing to produce the next generation are only relevant if we are actually lacking in people. Which we very definitely are not.

    It is true that gene continuation is hardly actual immortality, but the fact that your head makes that decision and you have insufficient basic biological urge to overrule it by just wanting the kids enough suggests that you are part of the genetic mutant category whose genes are destined to be not passed on.

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  21. Luke April 10, 2013 at 09:43 #

    Z, the West and Japan are in the midst of demographic collapse of their native-born stock. The lifetime # of children per woman in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Japan is in the 0.9 – 1.2 range, with 2.15 being replacement rate. (Go visit Italy, and see all the sets of 4 grandparents sharing a single grandchild between them.) Scandinavia, the U.K., France, and Germany are in major decline as well. Russia? Losing a million population a year. The U.S.? Nonminority women haven’t been at replacement rate since before Reagan become President. (Married black women in the U.S. have even fewer children per capita than do white women here; it’s only the black mothers of bastards that have accounted for, if slow, population growth of native-born U.S. blacks for decades. Close to half of all U.S. abortions are done on blacks, too, FYI.)

    Even LDCs are starting to see this hit in many countries, with women already below 1.7 in Iran, right now. Mexico? Barely replacement rate now. Quite literally, in much of the world, it’s as if the people had lost the will to live. Being a biologic failure isn’t just something that can be (justly) said of an individual, but of a nation, race, or civilization as well.

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  22. Z April 10, 2013 at 15:41 #

    Oh, that’s a good point, Kai, and I hear you. I think part of the problem is… men don’t know where they are supposed to approach women because almost any place outside a pick-up bar, there is going to upset some women.

    Case in point… I was hit on by a creepy guy (and when I say creepy I mean extremely socially awkward to the point that ‘maybe this is a serial killer’ actually crossed my mind. I’m sure he WASN’T that, but he skeeved me the hell out.) at a grocery store in broad daylight surrounded by people. Well, *I* felt a little threatened by him because he was threatening. That doesn’t make him evil (just socially awkward and totally unappealing to me), nor does it mean men can’t approach women in the produce aisle anymore.

    Watson, for all her logic before she blew it way out of proportion WAS at the bar after hours, getting pretty sloshed. Like it or not… most men interpret that as receptivity. Why was she even ON an elevator at 4 am to begin with? It wasn’t as if the conference itself (i.e. the official events) were going on that late.

    Why didn’t she have a female buddy with her? I mean nothing happened to her, and that’s great, but though she felt threatened she DID put herself in that situation by being the only woman among a group of men drinking and flirting late into the night at the bar. To later cry: “OMG Elevatorgate” seems a little absurd.

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  23. Z April 10, 2013 at 15:46 #

    hehehe yes, we are not lacking in people. If we were, hey, I’d pop out some babies to “do my part” haha, because most of the BS in the world I object to and feel would make a bad world for my offspring are directly related to too many people.

    I’ve often said that if I lived in a cul de sac in the fifities with other housewives, I’d pop out some babies, sure. And we’d raise our babies together. That sounds pretty awesome. But… that’s not the world I live in. The world I live in is not one I would wish on a child.

    Should Mr. Z and I ever develop an overwhelming urge to parent, we will adopt an older child. (Like 7-10), many of those kids are unwanted and passed over by people who want “babies”.

    And I agree I am probably part of the “genetic mutant” category haha. Just by virtue of not having a strong enough biological impulse to pass on my genes. It’s all fine and good for me to spout all the logical reasons for not having kids, but the fact that I can spout those reasons and ALSO not have a strong urge toward procreation… well it’s a one, two punch.

    I get that I am not gender-typical in that regard and that is part of why I don’t “hold it against” women who have babies, even in this world, and even if they wouldn’t be ideal mothers. I get that is a powerful urge for most, and since the urge is not powerful for me, I have no room to judge. It’s a great evolutionary fail safe for if the population is low… but yeah… we’re kind of getting like the deer.

    Like

  24. Z April 10, 2013 at 15:54 #

    Luke,

    Yeah, I hear what you are saying but the planet is a FINITE place, and much of how society is built upon the young supporting the old is sort of like a population pyramid scheme. It HAS to collapse eventually. Either through lower fertility or through overpopulation to the point of epic major suffering for everybody. I’m not going to contribute to that tipping point where we all suffer like starving deer in the woods.

    re: ‘lost the will to live’ maybe it’s more… looking at the world around them and lost the will to see it as a viable place to bring an innocent soul. That’s definitely how I look at it. Though I am currently comfortable by all standards of that (and feel very lucky to be so), I feel like there is something nasty on the horizon. Whatever it is, I’ll be better prepared to survive it without small children in tow, and either way, I can’t morally justify bringing someone here into what I feel is going to be a very F’d up world. I just see writing on the wall.

    Now I could just be a crazy crackpot (and if that is true, then my genes don’t need to be passed on for THAT reason, LOL Nobody needs more crazy in this world), but if I’m not wrong, then I would not forgive myself for bringing someone here. That’s why, IF Mr. Z and I ever had the overwhelming urge to parent/nurture, and getting a dog wasn’t enough, we’d adopt an older child already here because we had no say in bringing them here.

    It also might help to know I’m a Buddhist, so I take this ‘suffering’ thing to an absurd level of seriousness. LOL.

    Like

  25. pavetack April 10, 2013 at 18:04 #

    Judgy –
    You wrote “what the fuck is a graduate program in communications and how does this qualify anyone to evaluate scientific abstracts?”

    Actually, it’s worse than that. Contrary to the press release, the grad students were reading abstracts in the *Social Sciences*, and Communications. Ok, I’m biased, but I don’t call a professor of communications a “scientist”. So these were grad students making judgements at least nominally within their area of expertise.

    “Participants also reacted differently depending on the topics covered by the abstracts. Some abstracts concerned research in areas associated with women, such as children, parenting and body image. Others involved areas associated with men, such as political communication, computers, news and journalism.

    Results showed that abstracts on male-typed topics received significantly higher ratings if they were associated with male authors rather than female authors. And abstracts associated with male authors received significantly higher ratings if they pertained to male-type topics as opposed to female-type topics.”

    I love this gem:

    Knobloch-Westerwick said the gender bias found in this study may not operate the same in other areas of science. In fields that are more male-dominated than communication, gender bias may be even more of a problem.

    Or, you know, in “real” science, it might be even less of a problem.

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  26. Kai April 10, 2013 at 19:02 #

    It is a good thing that the younger generation is smaller than the older one. Now if only we could get the whole world working that way. There is only so much of everything, and we have used far too much of it. Fruitfully multiplying worked fine when there were few people, but now that we have so many, we need to spend some time shrinking back, and work towards a stable population, rather than a constantly growing one.

    All the potential issues nations have with having fewer people are not actually a problem of lack of people, but about nations setting up their systems as pyramid schemes. When you just assume that the bigger next generation will be able to take anything you throw at them, yes, its a probably when they turn out smaller. But that means we need to fix the systems, not find more people (as more people adds more problems).
    I know people who want kids, but have taken a good look at their lives, their earning power, and the kind of life they want their children to have, and chosen to just have one child, to concentrate their resources on the one and give that child things she couldn’t have if the resources were split among 3 kids.
    If western civilization has decided that it’s better to have fewer children, to make it more possible for a smaller number of next-generation to have a better life, rather than more struggling, that just sounds to me like a reasonable balance of carrying out your biological imperative but using your brain to do it.

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  27. Kai April 10, 2013 at 19:03 #

    The genetic mutant thing isn’t an insult, and I figured you would understand how it was meant. It’s simply different people being wired different ways.

    Like

  28. Kai April 10, 2013 at 19:04 #

    Yep, I’m with you (on most things, it is seeming).
    It’s the Elevatorgate I think was the problem.

    Like

  29. Mark April 10, 2013 at 22:21 #

    Definitely. Most of the papers I read are in biology, and I rarely even look at the authors’ names before reading (and most others in the field I know are the same way). Name recognition is far more important in the social sciences, where academic rigor unfortunately is often less important. (though I often make an exception for economics, the best social science, imo)

    Also, the discrepancy between ‘male-type’ topics and ‘female-type’ topics is huge in social science. Peer-reviewed economic research is far more rigorous and quantitative than sociological research on average (economics is also more male-dominated; sociology, more female). And even within a particular social science, I am willing to bet that men are more likely to approach a question quantitatively, and most people (including women), whether they like or are good at math, are smart enough to know that numbers and statistics have an objective value in research that words not accompanied by data do not. I would hypothesize that the “bias” is not in fact primarily in how they rated the papers differently (the readers may very well have no bias) but rather in differences in the topics men and women choose, and the differences in how they approach them; if men use numbers and statistics more (and I think they do), then of course their papers are perceived as more rigorous.

    The faulty assumption that difference=discrimination really is getting old.

    Like

  30. Z April 10, 2013 at 22:55 #

    hehe I mean… I know I sound like I’m blaming the “almost victim, well, I could have been a victim, it was theoretically possible!!”. 😛

    Like

  31. Z April 10, 2013 at 22:59 #

    Oh I know, definitely. I get that I am a little bit of an outlier here and definitely not a gender-typical female in this regard. I do think I have a maternal instinct but… I don’t have as much as most women and what I do have seems to be channeled into: “Inappropriate environment, do not proceed to procreation point.” I really could see me and Mr. Z adopting an older child around age 40 (me being around age 40, not the kid hahaha). It just depends on where we are and how we both feel about it then. He’d have to be 100% on board as I wouldn’t throw him under the bus just because I wanted to nurture something. But I’m even not sure about that. We’ll see how both he and I feel then and what our situations are.

    Otherwise I’ll be an aunt and godmother, and my BFF already knows if she and her hubby have a baby that I am on board for helping her in any way she needs.

    Like

  32. Z April 10, 2013 at 23:02 #

    Yes. It’s the way the system is organized. A different organization would produce different results. Also, if we went back to more smaller communities where everyone had a role and helped each other in their group, I think that would be helpful. Now, even families are spread way out and often can’t help each other partly due to distance. I live in the same neighborhood as my mother (luckily my mother is freaking awesome!), and that is going to be SO convenient to check on her and my dad as they get older.

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  33. Kai April 10, 2013 at 23:37 #

    I don’t completely disagree, but I don’t think the system can be blamed for an individual.
    If you are close to your family and you *want* to stay close to them. it is still possible to continue to live in the same neighbourhood. But if you choose to move away for a better-paying job or something, you don’t get to complain about the downsides that come with the upsides.
    As it happens, I live walking distance from my mother. But that’s simply because it’s still the place I want to live. If she moved to another continent, that would not be a bad thing for me.
    I think the people who are so hung up on families are the people lucky enough to have a good one. Personally, I value the people I choose to have in my life more than the ones chance randomly put in it. And it’s not the system that caused my family dynamics. It was my family.

    Like

  34. Kai April 10, 2013 at 23:40 #

    If you did want to nurture something, it’s also very possible to volunteer in many areas that can help both individuals and the next generation in general, without having one’s own children.

    Like

  35. Z April 11, 2013 at 00:52 #

    Very true, and good point! Nurturing doesn’t require full time. (Makes you wonder why the women who seem to want to be part time parents and let someone else raise their kids most of the time don’t just pick that option.)

    Like

  36. Z April 11, 2013 at 00:53 #

    That’s true. I didn’t realize how lucky I was with regards to my family until I saw/heard what a lot of people had to deal with.

    Like

  37. Kai April 12, 2013 at 05:07 #

    I think it’s primarily because no-one ever told them that was an option. Despite the sway feminists have over much of society, women are still expected to want children. to be female and say you don’t means constantly having to explain yourself, defend against accusations of selfishness, odd looks and lack of understanding… but I probably don’t have to tell you this.
    I think it is important for both sides of society to recognise the middle ground – most women want children, and to raise them, and that is normal and okay. But some women don’t, and that is also just fine.
    My years of working with children whose parents don’t seem all that interested in being parents has made me a strong evangelist for the normalization of childfreedom. For one, I don’t care if a woman regrets not having children. That’s her problem. But when she has children and then regrets it, even if she likely doesn’t admit it, the children suffer. And that I do have a problem with. Often, that becomes society’s problem.

    It simply isn’t accepted as normal and okay that women could choose to not have children, or to work/volunteer with children but choose not to have her own, or anything like that. And I know a lot of women, accustomed to staying within the norm, end up having children because that’s what you do, and it never really occurred to them that there might be another option.

    Like

  38. Z April 16, 2013 at 16:44 #

    Sorry this is so long, Kai, and also to JB in case this goes to moderation and you have to read this long crazy post before deciding to approve it or not. With the super skinny wall of text it looks even longer!

    I was thinking about that the other day, how it’s still the default assumption that women want kids. I DO agree that human beings have a biological urge to have sex (like all other mammals), I think babies were a “natural result” of that behavior before birth control, but not in-and-of-itself an instinct.

    I DO think human beings, particularly women in general have nurturing instincts, but there are a ton of ways to care and nurture that don’t involve having a baby. Having a baby is just the easiest way. (And I’m NOT saying being a parent is easy, just that it is… remarkably easy to get pregnant [leaving aside people with fertility issues and those outside childbearing years]. Having a baby is just a natural “thing to do”. But it’s definitely not the only way to honor one’s nurturing instincts, and for a lot of women I don’t think it’s the best way because not every woman is a good mother.

    When the selfish accusation comes up I always ask them to list for me the altruistic reasons they chose to procreate. The bottom line is that most people have a baby because they WANT ONE. It’s fairly rare to find a couple who are having a baby for some noble reason. The only nonselfish reason I could think of would be to raise part of the next generation into useful, functioning members of society, but with 7 billion people on the planet, that might not be totally altruistic. Plus, nobody asked the kid if they wanted to be here.

    I’m not saying having kids is some evil/bad thing. Not at all, but it is no more or less “selfless” than not having them, and there are plenty of unselfish reasons for not having kids. Overpopulation, pollution, not wanting to bring a kid to suffer in the various ways they will via that crap, plus via all the govt. control and the way society has changed and blah blah blah. I mean I wouldn’t want to bring a child of either gender into this feminist nightmare and “hook up culture”. Ick.

    For most people… having kids or not having kids comes down to what someone “wants to do”. And nothing more or less. It’s not selfless to have kids, because once you have them they are your responsibility, you don’t get a medal for taking care of the responsibilities you chose to bring here. That’s your job! And it’s not selfish not to have kids. But the reverse is true, also. I don’t think most people who have kids are selfish, and I don’t think most people who don’t have a ton of unselfish reasons. Unselfish reasons factor in big for me, but… I don’t really expect those are the root reasons for most people. I assume the root reasons are going to be more financial or emotional.

    Once I became more secure in my own choice, I started to realize how much most women DO want children. Like mentioned above, I don’t really think there is a “biological urge to parent” specifically, but the urge to have sex and the urge to nurture combined… well, there may as well be! I get that a lot of women want to be mothers, whether society is influencing them in that direction or not, and I respect that. Life is all about roads and choices. Any choice you make, there are other things you have to leave on the table. One of the things I think that makes women so miserably unhappy is this “have it all” mentality. They don’t seem to get that you have to make CHOICES in life. No, you can’t have it all, at least not at the same time.

    Obviously there are some experiences/things I miss out on in life by not being a mother… some of them I am thrilled I’m missing, LOL. Others of them, sure… they are nice things I don’t get. But the childfree life has a lot of perks also that mothers don’t get. One of the huge ones is how close Mr. Z and I are when it’s just us focused on each other and our lives together. I know some people think kids bring them closer, and for some people that might be true, but the vast majority of studies on it show that kids bring a lot of extra marital strife and stress and makes it harder for the couple to stay bonded, not easier. Couple happiness declines sharply at the birth of the first child and doesn’t peak again until after the last kid is out of the house. That’s not EVERY household, obviously, but statistically.

    People ask me a lot “what if you regret it”? The thing is… most women either regret or don’t regret by their forties. And if I was in my forties and “regretted” deeply, and Mr. Z was on board with me (wouldn’t throw him under the bus just to meet my own needs at the expense of his), then we could adopt an older child. I have zero interest in babies, and older children need good homes, too. But I seriously doubt I’ll regret it. But if I do, it is far better to regret not having a child than to regret having one. Once that kid is here, it’s here. That is a 100% irreversible decision. I don’t think all women are like this, but I am pretty sure I would regret having kids. I think the odds of that go really high the more ambivalent or against having kids you are. i.e. I’m not going to just magically squeal about how it’s the best thing I ever did and then tell some hapless woman “it’s different when they’re yours.” Not necessarily. I’ve known many women for whom that statement isn’t true, but unfortunately they only learn how true it isn’t AFTER they give birth.

    A lot of women have admitted to me that though they love their kids, if they had it to do over again, they wouldn’t. I guess being childfree, they feel I’m someone safe to talk to who won’t judge them, and I don’t. But the fact that they all confide in me with their deep dark parenting secrets should make it unsurprising when I make a different choice.

    With the birth rate declining as it is… I expect the childfree choice to become much more normalized. And yeah, it will create societal level problems we’ll have to figure out, but currently most social programs are a population pyramid scheme, on a finite earth, eventually at some point we have to cut back on population, we just do. The earth has a carrying capacity. Whether we are at that capacity currently or not is a debate many are having, but… the point is that there IS ONE. Whatever that number is, when we reach it (if we haven’t already), that’s bad for us all, and having enough young people to support the old people will be the least of our problems.

    By respecting the childfree choice, everybody can get the life they most long to have… those who don’t want children can simply choose not to overburden the planet. Those who do, now have room to have them because those who don’t want them are opting out.

    With regards to normal/acceptance though, honestly, I don’t care. 9 times out of 10 when someone says something nasty to me about my choice, I can see the jealousy in their eyes. Of COURSE they’re going to harass me about it. Many of them want a different life than the one they chose. Not all, but enough that I can largely ignore a lot of it.

    Raising kids is a huge sacrifice. For many people it’s a very noble and worthy one. But for people who don’t want kids there is no inherent moral value in sacrificing to bring someone here without their permission, foist the world on them, and then muddle through shared hardship just for the hell of it.

    Like

  39. Paul Murray September 2, 2013 at 02:02 #

    “When you come across a scientific article by a woman, it is reasonable to assume that it won’t be as good as an article by a man, on AVERAGE.”
    No it isn’t. Most women don’t write scientific articles, so you can’t judge those that do by a “women in general” standard. They are an atypical group.
    It could very well be that there are heaps of mediocre men in some scientific field, because guys like science, and the few women who are in it are mostly there because they are brilliant. Maybe.
    There’s not enough data here to calculate a correlation, is what I’m saying. An example of bad math on your part, I’m afraid 🙂 .

    Like

  40. Cobalt August 9, 2014 at 20:36 #

    That’s and excellent idea and would be implemented if it were not for the fact that HR is often specifically directed by the company directors (male) to find females for senior roles.

    So this sort of “research” is created to support this hiring.

    There was another one of these on twitter the other day, saying how there was this bias against pregnancy and how it limited women’s careers.

    There are many countries where women can take a year off for maternity. Many women score as high a level position as they can, then proceed to pump out their families. On some cases I’ve seen only six months at work prior to next pregancy. This is fine for a secretary as a warm bum in seat with easily replaced skills is all that is required. However, for a senior role it is quite a different matter.

    And, if these women’s priority while pregnant and with small children WASN’T themselves and their family, they wouldn’t have their heads on straight!

    It is quite miserable for many women to do a demanding job while pregnant. And even if they fly through pregnancy, I would like to see studies of the effects of all the high stress hormones that are unleashed in demanding roles on growing fetuses. That would be interesting. There is some research but not enough I bet. No one wants to know the answer.

    Like

  41. Cobalt August 9, 2014 at 20:40 #

    Feminism is a sort of mental birth control and I’m happy if they all take themselves out of the game pool!

    Like

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