Friday, December 29, 2006

Nature and Nurture.... girls in science and math

As Addie noted in a long and very welcome comment on my previous post -- there has been much research concerning soclialization and the resulting gender gap in terms of math and science. I have no doubt that this is true -- and that the cannon of epistemology and philosophy of science has a lot to do with this socialization. If women are 'emotional' and men are 'rational' -- and math and science are based on reason -- of course more men will wind up in math and science... duh.

I'm 38, and I recall getting the impression that being good at math and science was 'for boys' and being good at language related subjects was 'for girls'. I also recall the way I was instructed in these subjects (by men --geared towards boys). I really think that the reason I'm in a languageish (yea, I make up words) discipline is simply that I learned to read very early and by 4th grade I was off the K-12 scale in reading comprehension etc... For this reason it is hard to say that where I ended up was all about socilization.

What I'm worried about (FYI 'worried' is a technical term in philosophy denoting the central concern..) is the potential for feminist politics to block scientific research that could give us data about how to more effectively teach girls math and science...

I'm also worried that feminism will send the message that women are not rational -- because that simply isn't true....


bungle said...

Women and men are both 'emotional'. The difference is emphasis. Emotion has the effect of establishing connectedness. Since woman is the center of the family it falls on her to be an emotional adept. For men, fighting in the world of men, emotion is best kept in strict control.

Women are rational. I haven't seen proof to the contrary. But at this point I'm going to do something very questionable philosophically: proclaim my FAITH in the written notion of an AUTHORITY. (bwaaaahahahahaha!)
Yeah. That is, Plato saith something like: Girl dogs can herd as good as boy dogs; (implicit: we're better 'n them) therefore girl Guardians are as good as boy Guardians.

Good enough for me, for now.

Breena Ronan said...

Since when are feminists saying that women are emotional and men are rational? I would say that women tend to be cooperative and men tend to be competitive. It's more complicated than that really, because it's more like women have different ways of being competitive, but on a simplistic level I think it works. This means that women are less comfortable fitting into a scientific culture that rewards masculine ways of relating. It doesn't mean that they are actually less rational or less able to reason in a scientific manner. Also, women who have been successful in science have often been discounted, their work downplayed. Women don't get rewarded for showing off their accomplishment the way that men do (at least not traditionally.) I could go on and on about all the reasons that women don't fit into the culture of science but it doesn't have to do with women being less rational.