equality

Last month, Michael Balter published a story in Science about sexual misconduct in anthropology (I also mentioned it). A research assistant reported that Brian Richmond had assaulted her at a conference. In late September 2014, less than 2 months after Richmond had begun at AMNH, he and the research assistant attended a meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE) in Florence. The research assistant says that on the last night of the meeting, she, Richmond, and several young European researchers were out on the town, visiting bars and drinking red wine and shots of…
I endorse this article: 5 Ways That Science Supports Feminism – Not Gender Essentialism. It's making the point that when you actually study the relevant sciences, you discover that they fundamentally support a more complex view of sexuality than the usual boy/girl dichotomy. Here, in brief, are the five points it makes: 1. There Are More Than Two Sexes, Not to Mention a Vast Range of Gender Identities 2. The Environment Impacts Human Development from the Very Beginning at the Cellular Level 3. Socialization Is a Powerful Force 4. When Studies Do Find Gender Differences, They Are Often Too…
A study of students in Israel by Victor Lavy and Edith Sand has discovered a surprising result…or maybe not so surprising to you, but I was rather shocked. Math teachers score girls' performance lower when they know their identities. In math, the girls outscored the boys in the exam graded anonymously, but the boys outscored the girls when graded by teachers who knew their names. The effect was not the same for tests on other subjects, like English and Hebrew. The researchers concluded that in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys’ abilities and underestimated the girls’, and…
The New York Times has declared that Academic Science Isn’t Sexist. What a relief! The authors are reporting the results of a broad study of many different parameters of the career pipeline, and are happy to report that there are no problems in academia. None at all, no sir. Our analysis reveals that the experiences of young and midcareer women in math-intensive fields are, for the most part, similar to those of their male counterparts: They are more likely to receive hiring offers, are paid roughly the same (in 14 of 16 comparisons across the eight fields), are generally tenured and promoted…
I made the mistake of reading some of the comments on those last youtube videos. There were some good ones, but they were also laced with the usual grunting assholes complaining about gays and "trannies" and quoting the Bible and making racist remarks about Africans. Let us pass over those contemptible arguments; there's no dealing with them rationally. Spit and move on. But there's another flavor of argument that annoys me to no end: people who cite science and evolution to support their ignorant misconceptions about human nature. I want to address two, one anti-gay and the other pro-gay,…
In case you hadn't heard yet, Science magazine is making a play to reach the supermarket checkout aisle and tabloid market, with exciting new covers featuring sexy womanly body parts and leaving out pointless details like their faces. I don't know, they could have taken it a step further and featured dramatically posed dead sexy women. It should be obvious that this photo is problematic. Seelix has a good summary of the concerns. The via Science Editor-in-Chief has apologized, strangely, on a blog that apparently was set up for just this purpose that contains only one post, the apology. The…
Dr Gijsbert Stoet thinks we should stop trying to correct gender disparities. Speaking at the British Education Studies Association conference in Glasgow on Friday, he argued: "We need to have a national debate on why we find it so important to have equal numbers. Do we really care that only five per cent of the programmers are women? "Well, actually, I don't care who programmes my computers. A wealthy, democratic society can afford to let people do what they want. "What is better? To have 50 per cent of female engineers who do not really like their work but say, 'Yeah, well, I did it for the…
We're always talking about this curious phenomenon, that we see lots of women at the undergraduate and graduate level in biology, but large numbers of them leave science rather than rising through the ranks. Why is that? It seems that one answer is that elite male faculty in the life sciences employ fewer women, that is, the more prestigious, well-known labs headed by male faculty with great academic reputations tend not to hire women for the next level of training. Women make up over one-half of all doctoral recipients in biology- related fields but are vastly underrepresented at the faculty…
We've heard so much about bad behavior at conferences, and how sexist attitudes can suppress the contributions of women. And it doesn't seem to matter what the conference is about: tech, gaming, atheism, skepticism, philosophy, you name it. Now Prof-Like Substance describes the scene at evolutionary biology conferences, explaining how many women are hesitant to participate in important events because of the predatory behavior of some men. And she gives a little advice. So dudes, pull this apart a little bit. First off, the frequency with which inappropriate advances occur is causing some…
Credentialism always makes for convenient excuses. We love to construct simple shortcuts in our cognitive models: someone has a Ph.D., they must be smart (I can tell you that one is wrong). Someone is a scientist, they must have all the right facts. And of course, the converse: we can use the absence of a Ph.D. or professional standing, to dismiss someone. Creationists are very concerned about this, and you see it over and over again: the desperate need to acquire a degree or title, even if it is from some unaccredited diploma mill or a correspondence school, in order to justify their wacky…
I don't even… I have roused the furious slap-fighting anger of the HBD crowd, that's for sure. They have now come up with a priceless argument to refute everything I've said, and are accusing me of being a creationist. This image is priceless. Yes, @pzmyers, by definition, is a creationist. Why does PZ hate Darwin so? This must be a doozy of a refutation, encapsulated in a single image. And here it is. The Cultural Marxist War against Darwinism Creationists: evolution is a social construct, not biologically real. Liberal Creationists: race is a social construct, not biologically real.…
I've been getting lots of email and twitter remarks from the HBD mafia -- they don't seem to realize that I don't have any respect for a gang of pseudonymous incompetents, and that they're in a clique of self-deluded racist twits. You want to see real tribalism in action, there's a group that demonstrates it beautifully, driven by one primitive tribal distinction, race, to constantly affirm to each other that they are right to reinforce their prejudices. I'd rather read what real anthropologists -- you know, professionals who have wrestled with and studied this specific problem deeply -- have…
Two more meaty reviews of his li'l book of racism: One by Agustin Fuentes, an anthropologist who debated Wade, and the other by Jennifer Raff, yet another anthropologist with expertise in genetics. I’ve focused a lot of this review on numerous technical details because I think that it’s very important that non-geneticists understand the degree to which Wade is distorting the results of recent research on genome-wide human variation. I won’t speculate whether this distortion is deliberate or a result of simple ignorance about genetics, but it is serious. There is a great deal more in this book…
Sometimes those are good descriptors. I read a happy story for a change this morning: it's about Arunachalam Muruganantham, an Indian man who embarked on a long crusade to make…sanitary napkins. Perhaps you laugh. Perhaps you get a little cranky at a guy who rushes in to meddle in women's concerns. And there's some good reason to feel that way: he starts out with embarrassing levels of ignorance. He fashioned a sanitary pad out of cotton and gave it to Shanthi [his wife], demanding immediate feedback. She said he'd have to wait for some time - only then did he realise that periods were…
I had known that Jérôme Lejeune was the fellow who had discovered that Down Syndrome was caused by trisomy of chromosome 21, but it seems there were many other things about him I had not known -- he was just a name. But there were a few things that set me aback. Lejeune became not just a renowned researcher but the darling of the French Catholic right-to-life movement.  You can read long flattering Wikipedia biographies in both French and English. He was showered with awards and given a prestigious Chair of Human Genetics at the Paris School of Medicine, bypassing the usual competition.…
I thought I'd include a picture of the young Charles Darwin, since we are celebrating his birthday today. That's him in 1816, when he was 6 or 7 years old, with his younger sister, Emily Catherine Darwin. And then I started wondering about that other person in the picture. Darwin's sisters were an extremely important influence on his life, and I don't know a heck of a lot about her; Darwin had four sisters and one brother, Erasmus, and most of the biographies say quite a bit about the older brother who preceded him to university, but the sisters seem to be background noise. It seems…
"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." -John Stuart Mill No one becomes a master overnight, and practically no one does it without the outside help and support of not just a mentor, but of a number of peers, advisors and other allies along the way. At least, that was my story. Image credit: University of Baltimore. I remember being an undergraduate. I remember the combined struggles of rigorous academics, self-confidence crises, trying to figure myself out as a person, and trying to make friends and forge relationships all at…
In science, there's data, and there's interpretation. It's really easy to collect data (usually), but interpretation is the hard part — it requires an understanding of context and theory, and an appreciation of the real complexity of the problem. It's tempting to simplify all your models — the spherical cow problem — but you also have to justify the reduction in complexity to show that it is reasonable. And that's where some papers blow a hole in their foot. This is particularly a problem when the interpretation of the science is used to argue for policy changes. Here's a paper that's a…
Wow. Talk about major failure. A new study out correlates levels of Foxp2 with levels of vocalization in rats: basically, male rats squeak more than female pups when they're stressed by separation from their mothers, and mothers tend to rescue the rat who squeaks the loudest. They then found higher levels of Foxp2 in males, and also found that reducing male Foxp2 levels in male pups with siRNA also reduced vocalizations. So far, so good; looks like a reasonable and interesting experiment. Then they extended it to humans half-assedly, finding that 4 year old boys have lower levels of Foxp2 in…
The latest issue of Priscum, the newsletter of the Paleontological Society (pdf), has an interesting focus: where are the women in paleontology? They have a problem, in that only 23% of their membership are women, and I hate to say it, but the stereotype of a paleontologist is Roy Chapman Andrews — most people don't imagine a woman when they hear the word paleontologist (unjustly, I know!) On the other hand, 37% of the paleontology presentations at the GSA were by women. They're there, but they aren't getting far up the ladder of success. They're not achieving high status positions within…