A new study was trumpeted by the media last week, indicating that girls do no worse on standardized math scores than boys. Clearly, the commentary added, the disparities of the past were due to social preconditioning, not genetic differences, and our war against this evil stereotype is finally paying off.
Heather MacDonald took a closer look at the study, and discovered that, once again, the media reported only part of the story, the part that seemed to match their agenda. There was another angle they conveniently ignored: “while boys’ and girls’ average scores are similar, boys outnumber girls among students in both the highest and the lowest score ranges.”
Boys are found more often than girls at the outer reaches of the bell curve of abstract reasoning ability. If you’re hoping to land a job in Harvard’s math department, you’d better not show up with average math scores; in fact, you’d better present scores at the absolute top of the range. And as studies have shown for decades, there are many more boys than girls in that empyrean realm. Unless science and math faculties start practicing the most grotesque and counterproductive gender discrimination, a skew in the sex of their professors will be inevitable, given the distribution of top-level cognitive skills. Likewise, boys will be and are overrepresented among math dunces—though the feminists never complain about the male math failure rate.
Men and women are inherently different, in ways that we are still struggling to understand. To deny this basic fact of human nature is not only intellectually dishonest, it suppresses the diversity that academics insist is so vital among the human community.
No doubt you have heard by now of the reported pact made by 17 high school girls in Gloucester, MA, to get pregnant. The story apparently got twisted somewhat in the telling (it was a pact to support each other, made after the fact). Whatever the details, it became a national headline.
Kathleen Parker asks the key question in this story: Where are the fathers? No, not the young studs who proved their manhood by deflowering the fair maidens. Rather, where were the fathers of the girls?
It is a fair guess, though not possible to confirm at this point, that at least some of Gloucester’s pregnant daughters are from fatherless homes.
That guess is founded on sound social science indicating a strong correlation between father absence and a high risk for early sex and unwed pregnancy. Not only do fathers provide the masculine affection so many girls seek elsewhere, but they teach their daughters how to handle male sexual aggression, as well as to understand their own role in stimulating that aggression.
Contrary to the claims of feminists, fathers play a crucial role in the healthy emotional development of their daughters. So why isn’t our society doing more to encourage fathers, rather than denigrate them?
Christina Hoff Summers warns of a coming federal crackdown on gender discrimination in math and sciences in higher education. If Title IX is applied to these departments the same way it has been applied to college athletics, “equality” will be achieved by decimating the ranks of men who can apply for those positions. The long-term effect will be devastating to our national interest.
The continued excellence of American science and technology is vital to our security and prosperity — and depends on an exacting meritocracy and, at the top, an intensity of vocational devotion that few men or women can achieve.
Of course, as Glenn Reynolds notes, why should the feds stop there? Have you noticed the glaring gender discrimination that exists among elementary school teachers?
For years, the Democratic Party has made a career out of championing race and gender issues in an effort to be “all-inclusive.” As a result, the Party has gotten into bed with the NAACP and NOW , and is quick to hurl charges of “racist!” and “sexist!” every time a member of one of the aggrieved classes gets their feelings hurt.
So there is something deliciously ironic in seeing the Party now tearing itself apart over race and gender. They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in promoting members of their two base constituencies to the point that they now have a woman and a black running for the highest office in the land. But in a hot political campaign they know no other hand to play except the same old fear-mongering based on the usual identity labels. So they are turning on each other.
Kathleen Parker summarizes the problem well:
What’s clearly wrong is the convenient labeling — and silencing — of people as racist or sexist for expressing opinions that run counter to acceptable speech codes as determined by the minders of outrage.
Thus distracted, we ignore the real monster, whose name is Identity Politics.
It has two faces — and always bites the hand that feeds it.
UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer sees the silver lining:
This primary campaign represents the full flowering of identity politics. It’s not a pretty picture. . . .
The optimist will say that when this is over, we will look back on the Clinton-Obama contest, and its looming ugly endgame, as the low point of identity politics, and the beginning of a turning away. The pessimist will just vote Republican.
Kathryn Jean Lopez recently wrote a review on the movie Juno. She made some good observations about the phenomenon of arrested development that seems to be more widespread among young men these days (as typified by a character in the movie).
More interesting, however, was the response that Lopez received from a reader. Here are some key snippets.
Feminism’s second wave has had many, many unintended consequences, one of which is that men, not just women have been liberated from their traditional roles. Many men simply don’t feel the need to grow up because women have quite plainly said they don’t need or value men. “You say you can take care of yourselves? Fantastic! I’m gonna go invent computer games and play them for as long as I want.”
. . .
You (women) said you could take care of yourselves, and you’re doing so just fine. You treat them as disposable, dispensable, replaceable components of your lives and so they’re disengaged from you and they choose not to make commitments to you. The dissolution of a commitment to marry and have children has enormous negative financial and emotional consequences to a man. Why should they make such commitments when women consider such commitments easily violable, valueless, and trivial? Is there anything about the response of men to our culture and the choices of women that really surprises you?
The two genders are like magnets — let the opposing polarities face each other, and there is a strong attraction that binds them together; but try to force the same polarities together, and they repel each other.
Like it or not, men and women are different, and any effort to force them into absolutely equal roles is doomed to fail. This does not mean women must be forced into a box. It means simply that men and women have innate but unique qualities that should be respected and encouraged.
No, it’s not what you think.
After decades of pushing and prodding young women to step out and compete with men, the pendulum has now swung the other way. An editorial in The Detroit News bemoans the dearth of young men in colleges these days. The editorial references a recent study that points to systemic failures in K-12 education which cause boys to check out of education altogether.
There are methods besides affirmative action — rejected by the voters — to make school, and ultimately college, more welcoming to boys. Among them: Fashioning school days around the needs of boys, including physical activities to balance desk-based learning. As school budgets shrink and global competition requires more demanding curriculums and learning from students, recesses have been less commonplace.
Teachers also need to rethink how they teach boys, whose language abilities develop more slowly than girls. Students who have strong language skills tend to do better in tests — and thus, boys are less likely to excel.
School districts and the state also need to examine the needs of young men to help them stay in high school. Male students struggle more with impulsive behavior and long-term thinking, experts say.
Thus, studying for a long-term payoff — a college degree some eight years away — is tougher for some boys than it is for girls. So schools should invest in short-term incentives to keep young men in school.
And the nation needs to rethink its emphasis on desk-based jobs in which some young men lack interest. High-tech trades and job creation are needed for the millions of men who lack an aptitude or passion for sedentary work.
The feminization of education may have inspired a generation of girls to reach for the stars, but at the cost of leaving behind a generation of boys. The system needs to return to a more balanced approach that recognizes — and builds upon — the innate differences between men and women.
Mark Richardson debates feminists who argue that in marriage, men have all the autonomy while women carry all the burdens of parenthood.
If a man held autonomy to be a key aim in life he would never marry and never consent to an active fatherhood. Marriage and fatherhood lock men into a life of work and responsibility in which there is rarely time or money for a man to do as he pleases.
It’s not an easy thing for a man to adjust to and increasing numbers of men appear to be opting out or at least delaying their commitment to married life.
Most men, though, do sacrifice the larger part of their autonomy to work, marry and have children. They do so because of an impulse to find love and a soul mate; because of a sense that becoming a husband and father are the proper “offices” for an adult male through which their lives are completed: because of the instinct to procreate to pass on something of themselves to future generations; and because of paternal instincts to have children to love and to guide to adulthood.
Men are in their natures protectors and so there is a level at which meeting the burdens of fatherhood is a self-fulfilment.
Well spoken! Feminists who disparage the male gender and the institution of marriage understand neither. Men and women have different but symbiotic roles — that’s a biological fact of life that we ignore to our peril. It is true that some men abuse their role and mistreat the women in their lives. But they usually end up just as unhappy as the women who abuse their roles.
Traditional marriage, when lived by a man and woman who really love and care for each other, is the best arrangement for human happiness for everyone involved — husbands, wives, and kids.