This week

I’m attending a work related conference that is occupying much of my time. I normally do my blogging during breaks/lunch hour, but because of this conference, those times are not available for that.

Yesterday, we were there for over ten hours so between that and travel time, I just didn’t have the time or energy to post anything more than I did.

Content will most likely be light to nonexistent the rest of the week too.

I do want to mention something that I stumbled across yesterday. I can’t remember who linked to it so I apologize for failing to give appropriate credit. If you were the one who linked this story yesterday, please leave an appropriate scolding in the comments and I’ll be happy to credit you.

Update: Properly chastised in comments, I am reminded that it was Big Bad Wolf…a local blogger recently added to my (quite large) daily reads list…who pointed me in the right direction on this issue. Thanks buddy. [/Update]

Anyway, this lengthy article is regarding the relative dearth of women of the female persuasion seeking careers in the “hard sciences” like engineering, math, etc.

The gist is that some members of the feminist movement opine that the only POSSIBLE explanation for the low numbers of women choosing those fields of study is sexism. The patriarchy of male professors, male students and males in the profession OBVIOUSLY must be fomenting an environment of hostility and harassment that discourages women from entering their “domain.”

I mean, it couldn’t POSSIBLY be that women generally just aren’t as interested in fields like engineering et al…right?

The article, though long, does an excellent job of exploring the issue and dispelling those bigoted assumptions, but it fails to point out one major aspect of the issue.

This is an aspect that affects, consciously or unconsciously, any group that is the recipient of special treatment in order to increase group participation in an endeavor.

When special considerations are made to encourage members of a particular group to pursue and/or achieve a particular goal, their are a couple of decidedly negative impressions that the group tends to be saddled with…deservedly or not.

First, the impression is given that the group would not be capable of achieving the goal without the incentives or assistance provided.

Second, the impression is given that every individual member of the group who attains the goal did so with a stacked deck, and, therefore, is not as capable or qualified as those who attained the same goal without the “assistance” received by the group members.

This is unfair to the group members because they are all tarnished with the perception that “they couldn’t have done it without help”, whether they availed themselves of those incentives or assistance or not. It creates the perception of an entire class of people who “can’t hack it on their own” and foments resentments…and therefore, the very hostilities that proponents of such programs assume already exist.

These policies tend to become self-fulfilling insofar as they encourage the very discrimination that they were implemented to address.

And it all goes back to the supremely flawed and ridiculous contention that differences in male and female psychology are derived solely from artificial societal constructs. I hate to oversimplify but it really isn’t that difficult a concept. If genetic differences are responsible for consistent differences between male and female physical characteristics (within a reasonable variation and with exceptions to the general rules of course), why is it so difficult to imagine that genetic differences could be responsible for consistent psychological differences between males and females (within that same reasonable variation and with those same exceptions to “norms”)?

It just seems like common sense to me. But, then again, I’m not a highly trained academician in the scientific field of “women’s studies” so maybe I’m way off base.


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