Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Christina Hoff Sommers hates women scientists

Christina Hoff Sommers is at it again: claiming that applying Title IX to science will ruin America, just as she did around this same time last year, as discussed in previous issues of AASWOMEN: see here, here, and here.

She starts off like this:
What's good for women's basketball will be good for nuclear physics. To most Americans, that statement will sound odd.
Well, yes, how can you possibly fairly compare a gender-segregated sport to a field of science? Apples and oranges, anyone?

(click on the "link to full post" to read the rest)

"Title IX has had an enormous impact on women's opportunities and participation in sports." Indeed, Title IX has contributed to significant progress in women's athletics -- but at what cost to male student athletics?
Okay, now we're getting somewhere: we are looking to open opportunities to women and increase their participation. What's wrong with that? And besides, men's college basketball does not seem to have suffered at all from the rise of women's college basketball. College basketball was all over the news last month, at least the men's tournament. Maybe once in a while you'd hear about the women's tournament, but it wasn't the big story.

Title IX could make "similar striking advances" for women in science and engineering. Indeed it could -- but at what cost to science?
Okay, now that's just insulting. She's basically just put right out there that she believes that women are not capable of doing math or science. Thank you, Ms. Sommers, for adding to the problem of gender bias in science.

Badly in need of an advocacy cause just as women were beginning to outnumber men on college campuses, well-funded academic women's groups alerted their followers that American science education was "hostile" to women.
Look, more insults! We women in science advocates are simply troublemakers looking for a cause. Gotta love the scare quotes around "hostile" too. Well, if people continue to assume that women cannot do good science, then American science education is going to continue to be hostile to women, won't it. I also love the idea of well-funded academic women's groups. And how much money does the American Enterprise Institute pay you, Ms. Sommers?

Is it true that women are being excluded from academic science programs because of sexist bias? Some researchers agree that bias is to blame; others, perhaps a majority, suggest that biology and considered preference explain why men and women gravitate to different academic fields. But researchers who dispute the bias explanation played little or no role in the Title IX conferences, summits or congressional hearings.
Oh really? And which studies are these? Do these studies actually definitively point to biological differences rather than cultural upbringing, because those are notoriously difficult to separate. Or perhaps it's all stereotype threat?

American scientific excellence, though, is an invaluable and irreplaceable resource. The fields that will be most affected -- math, engineering, physics and computer science -- are vital to the economy and national defense.
Look, a statement I can actually agree with. But that means we need to bring more people into STEM fields. If you limit those people to just the white males, you're not taking advantage of all your resources. This is not a zero-sum game. Believe it or not, women and minorities can make significant contributions to STEM, too. The white male culture of STEM does not necessarily produce the best science, and just because it's always been that way doesn't mean that it can't change.

Title IX is not just about sports: it's about ending sexual discrimination in universities as a whole. It just so happens that the only realm where this has been successful is sports. Title IX was passed 37 years ago: it's high time that it was applied more widely.

Hat tip to A, who alerted me to this article and ruined my morning.  I forgive you, though.